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Stylist Solange Franklin On the Obama Girls and Eating Leftover Lasagna For Breakfast

SolangeFranklin.jpgIn our ongoing series, "Ladies Who Lunch," 2014 Beautiful Person, cook, co-founder of catering company bigLITTLE Get Together and Marc Jacobs' personal chef, Lauren Gerrie, will be whipping up lunch -- and conversation -- with some of our favorite New York City gals.

"Pork & bacon. It's absolutely the best where I'm from and the smell reminds me of Sundays and my Dad's tradition," Solange Franklin says while reminiscing about foods she grew up with in Des Moines, Iowa. Now living in NYC and working as a stylist -- for, among other outlets, PAPER! -- Franklin's entry in the fashion world was initially a bit roundabout. While attending Mount Holyoke College -- her mother's Alma mater -- she first decided to major in African American Studies with a concentration in Literature and Economics before switching gears and studying Pre-Med for two years. But it was while working in labs (microbiology / biochemistry / gastroenterology) that she found herself daydreaming about fashion.

After taking a year off to "figure her shit out" she returned to the humanities and finished school, knowing she could always return to medicine later. Her transition from science to fashion started in earnest with stints working in the theater department at Mount Holyoke before landing internships at Condé Nast publications like Teen Vogue. It was there that she was first exposed to the world of styling while working with casting director Claire Rhodes. She went on to assist stylist Avena Gallagher and organize a show for Rachel Comey before becoming the first assistant to W's Giovanna Battaglia. Below, Solange chats with us about styling the Obama girls, her favorite Bed-Stuy restaurant and why challah is her go-to "solo-styles eating habit."


Healthy "Chinese Take Out"
Herb Jasmin Rice with Sugar Snap Peas & Meyer Lemon
Coconut Oil Roasted Cauliflower & Celery with Maple Syrup / Sesame Seeds / Red Pepper Flakes

SolangeFranklinWATERCOLOR.jpgRecipe for Three Herb Jasmine Rice

How were you able to transition from being an assistant to a full-fledged stylist?

I'm definitely a 'keep your head down and just work'-type of person -- but not necessarily with blinders on. I like to wait until I'm absolutely ready to do something before stepping out and trying it. In terms of becoming a stylist, I started speaking with photo assistants on set and suggesting we build our books together. There were a lot of test shoots and exploring my own style. I was actually referred to PAPER through a high school friend of mine -- they were having an open call for stylists and I went. I hit it off with Mickey and it took off from there.

What shoot are you most proud of thus far?

The Rita Ora shoot for the cover of PAPER Magazine's April "Beautiful People" Issue. I think it is the best she has ever looked. It was a nice timeline for her own personal growth and style. Very clean.

Who would you most like to style?

I would love to do the Obama Girls. Really and truly. I feel like we always see them dressed down walking across the lawn holding their dad's hand. I feel like there could be a play on "Daddy's Girl" or something completely different. I think it would be cool to see them as bad-ass princess biker girls or just talk to them and see what they were into. I respect that Michelle has kept them sheltered -- I think it's very important for young girls in their formative years who are in the public eye.

Moving on from fashion to food, what's your favorite meal of the day?

Dinner. I often times won't eat until noon. I'm not a breakfast girl and if I do eat that early it's probably leftover lasagna. I cook, but my schedule is so varied so I don't do it often. Luckily my boyfriend makes it happen most of the time. Thank you, Brian.


What food makes you feel most nostalgic?

I love southern food so black eyed peas, cornbread, mac'n cheese. Growing up, my mom would bake sweet potatoes just to fill the house with the aroma. Living in Bed-Stuy, it's amazing because there are a bunch of soul food and Jamaican jerk spots. It's dangerous.

Where is your go-to neighborhood restaurant?

Soul Food Kitchen is within walking distance and they have the most delicious and tender fried whiting. They have bomb cabbage too. I don't know what kind of spices they put in it, but it makes me salivate.

You just moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn, what WAS your favorite go-to dinner spot?

Bianca, an Italian restaurant between Broadway and Lafayette. I love carbs.

If you could learn to make any artisan food product, what would it be?

Challah! I am not eating processed white flour or sugar... or at least trying. But I will buy the whole wheat challah at Whole Foods. That is my secret solo-styles eating habit. When my boyfriend goes out of town I will buy a loaf of challah and dip it into anything I can get my hands on. It's so good with tahini or fig jam -- oh I love fig jam with cheese on challah. So good.

If you weren't enjoying this wonderful lunch with me, what lady would you like to be dining with?

I would probably choose Michelle Obama. If not her, then Nina Simone. I want her to serenade me and tell me stories with that syrupy voice. I would make her something really easy that I couldn't mess up. Plantains in coconut oil with coconut rise & shaved coconut. I'm really into coconut right now. I might try to fry her some fish, too.

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