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If you’ve turned on Netflix recently, you’ve definitely seen one of Enrique Melendez‘s biggest clients: Jenna Ortega.
Melendez began working with the Wednesdaystar back when she was 14 years old. At the time, Melendez was taking some time off after traveling the world as a stylist for the Black Eyed Peas when Ortega’s publicist reached out to him. Melendez had never worked in the acting world before, but he was up for the challenge. The rest is fashion history.
Melendez is responsible for some of Ortega’s iconic all-black looks on the press tour for Wednesday. For the latest episode of Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr, he shares how he landed his big break in the music industry, what the first meeting with Ortega was like, and more.
For excerpts from their conversation, scroll below.
Can you tell me a little bit about how you found your way into celebrity styling?
I actually was meeting a friend of mine—late friend of mine—AJ Crimson. He’s a makeup artist. He was like, “So what are you doing? What are you going to be doing next?”
I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna go to a real estate school, and I’m going to study to become a real estate agent, and I’m gonna sell properties.” He was like, “Really? That’s nice, but do you find a thrill in that?”
I’m like, “No, but I figured it’s gonna pay the bills, pay my rent.” He’s like, “Well, what are you passionate about?” Then I’m like, “Um, I don’t know.” I honestly couldn’t give him an answer.
He’s like, “Well, you seem to love fashion. You seem to always dress up and you’re always reading the fashion magazines. Every time I see you, you’re talking about clothing.”
I’m like, “Yeah, I guess I’m passionate about it. I love it.” He’s like, “Well, why don’t you become a stylist?”
He [Crimson] connected me with his friend, Lor-e Phillips, who was working for the Black Eyed Peas at the time in about 2007. I just started interning under her, and that’s kind of where it all began.
Tell me a little bit about what it was like working with the Black Eyed Peas.
I absolutely had no idea the amount of global impact that the group had at the time. I was so busy trying to work and pay my bills and eat. I knew who they were, obviously. I heard some of their songs, but I didn’t really realize the global impact that they had on pop culture and even the world alone.
It was about 2007 and so it was in the middle of their break. I think Fergie was kind of finishing up her solo project run. So they we’re getting into doing the next album—which is The E.N.D.—and I was just around for a lot of smaller projects because they were still gearing up.
I would assist styling and sending out outfits. I was just getting little glimpses of it. It wasn’t till about 2009 where I started hearing—like we would go to the studio—and I would hear the album.
Hearing all of these things in the studio, I’m like, “This music is really going to be big.” That is where I kind of became to the forefront of that styling world. Lor-e [Phillips] didn’t want to travel. She wanted to focus on designing and stay local in L.A.
So they say, “Hey, we would really like for you to come on tour with us because there’s a bunch of promo tours and all of that and just kind of oversee the wardrobe.”
I kind of came to the leadership role on that and the point person for that just because I was on the road with them all over the world.
I want to talk about one of your other clients who you’ve been working with since she was just 14 years old, Jenna Ortega. How did you start working together?
After all that crazy music world stuff, I was like, okay, I spent so much time away from home. I need to come home and figure out what I really want to do next.
I took a couple of months off—maybe about four to five months. I had a publicist, Mona Loring, reach out to me who was overseeing Jenna Ortega at the time.
She’s like, “Hey, I have a client that I think I’d like for you to work with. She’s an actress.”
I’m like, okay, this would be a change of pace. The music world was fine and ultra creative, but maybe I just want to chime into that world because I have never done it before.
I just started researching. She was going to a pretty prominent event. I wanted to keep her elevated and have her wear something in the in the higher end of brands. I looked up brands that had teen-tiered lines or something along that line. Something that was just a little bit more age appropriate.
I came across Valentino at the time. They sent me a couple of options. I go into this fitting, and it was Jenna and her mother. I just set up in my living room. I have a rack full of clothes, and they’re just sitting on my sofa.
We started trying on outfits and then we’re sending outfits to her publicist. She’s just shutting them all down. We get to the Valentino options, and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, these are really nice. We should go this way.”
I think that kind of solidified my my space with her.
You work with your clients for so many different occasions and so many different events. What do you like to work on the most?
My favorite, favorite, favorite I think is going to be press tours. Usually that includes the red carpet event for the actual movie or television show. I do love to chime in to a theme without being on the nose. I think that comes from my musical styling background, where I would get a creative and we would do a music video or an awards performance or something.
I just feel like you can have fun with it. Jenna [Ortega] and I have both even talked about this where a lot of people really received our little Wednesday press promotion era very well.
They were really excited about chiming into the character but also having fun with it and doing something new with the color black every single time. I think people really received that well because it just felt fun. We were having fun with fashion.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Next up, check out our previous episode featuring Maggie Bullock.