Editor's note: We're shining a spotlight on the six finalists in the 2017 CultureMap Stylemaker Awards, beginning with finalist Amber LaFrance. Voting for the readers' choice winner continues through October 24 at 11:59 pm. The winners will be named at our Reveal Party on October 26 at Tootsies in The Plaza.
Amber LaFrance is dancing her way through life.
A former ballerina for 18 years, she says her childhood exposure to the performing arts informed many aspects of her adult life — even her personal style.
Now 29, LaFrance is president and executive publicist of CultureHype; publisher/editor-in-chief of DFW Style Daily; and co-owner of the recently reopened Longhorn Ballroom.
After demonstrating some graceful ballet moves on the set of a CultureMap Stylemaker finalists photo shoot recently, she sat down to chat about her passion for the arts, her fashion evolution, and her favorite style influence, the Spice Girls.
CultureMap: How did your dance background influence your life and career?
Amber LaFrance: "Growing up with a live orchestra, or African drums in my dance classes, or pop music when I was doing a lot of hip-hop, influenced me and my career path now because I brand creatives — everything from what their album art should look like to what their music video should look like to how they should look on stage; I've even choreographed them dancing on stage before."
CM: How has your personal style evolved along with your life?
AL: "When I was younger, I tried a little bit harder to look older. I used to be a lot more toned down. I was a 23-year-old girl boss, so I was wearing a lot of suits and muted colors. Over the years, I have realized that I can let my fashion-freak flag fly. I can be as creative as I want; I can wear patterns. My style has evolved a lot over time; it's kind of gotten weirder and weirder every year because I like really unique shapes, patterns, and colors."
CM: And how does this eclectic style align with your work?
AL: "People not only hire you to do their PR and marketing, they also hire you because your own personal brand looks in line with theirs. Naturally, working with a lot of creatives, going in wearing a black business suit is totally not fitting. But if I'm meeting with a cool hip-hop artist or interpretive dancer, wearing something that looks like pajamas is way cooler than your average corporate outfit."
CM: You credit the Spice Girls as one of your biggest style influences?
AL: "I was born in '88, so the Spice Girls were the jam back in the day, but I think I'm one of the only people who listens to the Spice Girls, still, on a regular basis. At my office, it's a lot of girl power, and all the girls who work for me love the Spice Girls. I just think they were really unique and wore whatever the hell they wanted, and were just themselves, and I'm really big on being authentically you."
CM: What are some of your favorite things to wear?
AL: "I really like weird pants — patterned, wide-legged. I also really love shoes that are comfortable but also really cool, like a platform sneaker. I'm constantly consuming art and fashion and music, so naturally I get inspired by people like Solange or brands like Rachel Comey or Zara."
CM: How did you feel when you found out you were nominated for a CultureMap Stylemaker Award?
AL: "I was really excited because my staff nominated me. Even though they're only a few years younger than me, it means a lot for them to look up me, and I think personal style is one of the things they look up to."
CM: What's one more thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
AL: "I was really into ballet for 18 years, but I was kind of rebellious minded and I always wanted to be a backup dancer for pop acts. Ballet was pretty traditional for me, so even though I loved it, I wanted to be a hip-hop dancer behind the scenes at the MTV Video Music Awards. I ended up taking classes for years from a guy who was a choreographer for Justin Timberlake. That was my number one dream."