A celebrity wedding would probably be daunting to many stylists. Not to Khalilah Williams-Webb.
The 29-year-old is downright calm just days from what might be the biggest project of her career: the wedding of NBA superstar — and Towson Catholic High School standout — Carmelo Anthony and television personality LaLa Vasquez. The wedding has the added pressure of being a part of the couple's soon-to-be-released reality show on VH1.
"These are things that I handle on a everyday basis," Williams-Webb said with a laugh. "I do understand how important it is. When I get to Friday, I'll be a little more flustered."
Williams-Webb, a Baltimore native now based in New York City, has come a long way from working a retail job at Express, where she would ask stylists shopping in the store whether they needed an assistant. After a slew of unsuccessful pitches, a prop stylist for Avon gave Williams-Webb a break. Soon she was running all over New York City transporting props and gathering fabric swatches. That first job was invaluable because it taught her the importance of detail, she said.
"That is the most important thing," Williams-Webb said. "You have to learn detail."
Detail, organization and a willingness to push her clients in new directions have boded well for Williams-Webb, who is a stylist for WWB Lifestyle Agency, a New York City-based boutique artist management company.
Those skills will be put on display Saturday at Anthony's private New York City wedding, where Williams-Webb will be responsible for dressing Anthony and his 3-year-old son, Kiyan. Both will be wearing navy tuxedo jackets. Anthony's jacket is by Waraire Boswell, an American designer. Kiyan's suit is designed by Jack Mass Couture, based in Montreal.
Williams-Webb set out to ensure that Anthony maintained a classic look. She had to make sure that her vision for the groom would not clash with the rest of the wedding party, or with the demands of the bride and wedding planner.
"That's the life of a stylist," she said. "It's about compromise."
Williams-Webb has become a popular stylist in the sports and music industry. In addition to Anthony, her clients include: NBA stars Rudy Gay, Brandon Bass and Jonny Flynn; Carol's Daughter founder Lisa Price; music executive Kevin Liles; and NFL players Donte Whitner and James Hardy.
Liles, the former president of Def Jam Recordings, likes Williams-Webb's ability to think outside the box.
"She pushes the envelope and matches that creativity with hard work, dedication and professionalism," Liles said. "Because of that winning combination, she is ensuring herself a successful future and establishing herself as a staple in our industry."
She has styled in collaboration with others on music videos for Lloyd, Jamie Foxx and Kanye West. Her work has also appeared in ESPN the Magazine, XXL, The Source and Black Enterprise. Her first commercial for Coinstar's international campaign, "Shake Your Money Maker," was directed by Hype Williams.
"It feels great," Williams-Webb said in reference to her recent success. "Every time I see anything that I do, and I see the finished product, and I know all the things that I've done, it feels great. I'm proud. I'm very grateful."
Williams-Webb did her first head styling job in 2006 for a music video for Yung Joc, a rapper signed to Bad Boy Records. She was referred by a mentor who felt that she was ready. From there the work began to grow. Soon she was being hired as a stylist for professional male athletes, who have become her most successful client base.
"When I started assisting, I never had experience with styling men," Williams-Webb said. "It is something I have grown to love and appreciate. There is a lot less work. It is a lot less involved."
It's not all easy. Working primarily with men — especially athletes and rappers — has come with its fair share of roadblocks.
"Some people are not receptive," she said, adding that younger athletes typically have never had anyone to advise them on their style, which makes them resistant to change.
Anthony was hesitant to accept all of Williams-Webb's suggestions at the beginning of their working relationship. When the two first met, Williams-Webb suggested that he cut off his then-signature braids. He told her that he would never do so. Two months later, the braids were gone. Williams-Webb said that Anthony made the decision on his own.
"He was conforming to the hip-hop style," recalled Williams-Webb, who was introduced to Anthony by his manager, Baltimore native Bay Frazier. "It was what all the other athletes were doing. Now we are at a different point in his life. His style has been elevated to a higher level. He looks very classic."
Price became Williams-Webb's first steady client in 2006.