I’m a firm believer that style is timeless, bold and without limits. Fads die out and imitators are looking for the next trend, but genuine style stands the test of time. Rosemary Ponzo is an artist that truly represents these qualities and then some. She is an accomplished stylist and designer that has made a significant impact on the world of style.
She has worked in numerous films, television shows, commercials, editorials and with several celebrities over years. Some of her major film, television & theatrical accomplishments include Coyote Ugly, NY Cop, Guiding Light, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum to name of few. She has also designed and styled for Gweneth Paltrow, Josh Lucas, Prince, Mary J. Blige, Michael Bolton and many other celebrities. What I find most notable is that this native New Yorker takes the time out to lecture at NYU School of Film, Fashion Institute of New York and Parsons School of Design & Visual Arts. We were able to catch up with Rosemary who was kind enough to share a little bit more about herself.
LOS: Your personal style is so unique. What inspires you when putting together your outfit for the day?Rosemary: It could be a dream I had the night before, or something totally unrelated to fashion. I sometimes put on “My Sunday Best” (Hello Dolly Soundtrack) if it’s not the greatest day in New York, and then I feel amazing. There are days when I just think of something crazy I saw on the street and with my vast collections I can re-create it and put my own spin on it.
LOS: In an era where society is so judgmental about personal expression and fashion, how do you manage to pull off your style regardless of the critics? Rosemary: I always say, If they are not paying me or my fashionista habit (shopping/designing) I could care less! I believe one should “know Thyself” (William Shakespeare) and be true to yourself; you are going to be found out eventually, so why not have people become a little curious of the outfit, and accessories. When people ask me how I have so many different looks, I say I use my imagination, and transpose outfits to make them look different. When people get to know me, I am a real person and just love to be creative and hopefully inspire someone out there to try something new and exciting with their own clothes or go that extra mile to make their own look special.LOS: Your hats and head pieces have become quite popular. How many hats & head pieces do you own? Why have they become such a significant part of your outfits?Rosemary: I have 417 hats, and they are all in hat boxes and preserved. I just love the idea of a completed look, and a hat or fascinator adds more interest to the outfit. Because of my Costume History background, through the ages women have worn hats, head dresses, and pure gold and bejeweled pieces which adorned the heads of Kings and Queens (Cleopatra). These women were considered Goddesses. In addition everyone notices a woman today in a hat or headpiece.
LOS: I’ve noticed you spent quite some time working in Japan on the set of the “Divorce Lawyer” from Za Zu Productions. How does the expression of style differ in Japan from the United States? Have you taken some Asian influences and incorporated it in your styles and designs?
Rosemary: I love Japan, and the people there are very willing to take risks, the younger generation. Their hair is always at least two colors and they love everything American. There is a lot of Tradition but with an edginess to it. They love color, color, color and anything over the top. When you are working on a project with them, you are like family, and everyone eats together, and goes out together and every shoot I have been on, the Director always gives small tokens of appreciation to the crew (part of a tradition). We even take a “Class Portrait” and everyone gets a copy! Ha! Ha!I worked there with another Japanese stylist and she had to have my leopard totebag!
Anything different and unique is what they strive for and it makes it so easy for me to work with Japanese companies here in the States; I know what they are looking for and it does not always have to be according to Costume History. They also love designer labels and I am the Queen of that, although my own designs have gotten great accolades from the Japanese companies as well. As Far as incorporating some of the Asian influences, I try to bring more color into my wardrobe, whether it be a ruby red pair of shoes, or a colored handbag or headpiece. It is not easy getting out of Black, it is a New York Icon in itself.
LOS: What was your very first job in design or styling? How did you get the job? What impact did it make on your overall career?
Rosemary: I was at a party, and I met a friend who said to this Film Director that I was a Costume Designer/Fashion Stylist and had all this experience in styling films. I wrote my telephone number on a napkin and he called within the next day or so, and I said to myself, “Do or Die” and it was an amazing experience. The impact it left was that I as a stylist, even though I now have assistants, must always rely on myself to get the job done, knowing everything about the set, shoot, script, etc. and not be afraid to ask questions. LOS: You have accomplished so much in your career, but is there a particular job that sticks out to you as the most memorable? If so, share why.
Rosemary: I was called to style a rock band and three other actors on a Blackberry Apps Commercial and had four hours to style, fit and get the talent to the set, and I did it!!!!! Came within budget, and had a very happy Director, Producer and of course the Talent loved their wardrobe.LOS: What was the biggest risk you ever took in regard to style or design?
Rosemary: This particular shoot I was on had a really crazy time frame, and we could not by any means find the colors the Director was looking for within the time allotted, so I sent the talent to the set in colors I thought could work, and he was surprised, amazed and happy. There was a storm inside me, but I was unfluttered and very composed, therefore, expressed with great style, class and grace why we were using this color scheme. And it worked! LOS: Who would you consider a style icon and why?
Rosemary: That’s a loaded question! There are so many that it is a really very difficult choice to make. However when I moved to Manhattan, my first job was with Diana Vreeland, so where do you go from there.
LOS: You always seem to be front row at NY Fashion Week. What are you looking for when you see all of the new collections being presented?
Rosemary: It’s great to be invited to Fashion Week and I am extremely grateful to go, some of the shows are very theatrical and fun. If I can assess what The Designer’s inspiration is and the theme of the styling, then and only then I can say wow this is an amazing well thought out Fashion show, with the right shoes and accessories and now of course Fascinators, since The Royal Wedding.LOS: What advice would you give aspiring stylists and designers looking to start their careers?
Rosemary: I have had many many aspiring stylists work for me, and the advice I can give them is this: learn the business well, have a quiet confidence about yourself, and realize that you are providing a service to the project, so if the Art Director or Film/Stage Director wants to go another way than your ideas, understand and accept it, and you will always be working!To see Rosemary’s work visit: