Erika Degraffinreaidt: More Than Just Fashion

Saturday, 05 January 2013 19:26 Written by  Nicole Goodnight

When people think of fashion, many often think of couture fashion designers, Paris and top models. But, that is only a part of what goes into the hard work and dedication of the fashion world. Erika Degraffinreaidt, a fashion stylist on the rise says, “Fashion is art, inspiration and creating a vision.”

Erika grew up in Bartlett, Ill. with a love for fashion, but she never knew that styling would become her forte. She says the profession "fell into her lap."  Growing up in a household that consisted of her mother and two brothers, Erika learned the value of a strong work ethic and benefited from a foundation that would allow her to be successful in whatever she did. GlossMagazineOnline (GMO) sat down to speak with the owner of French Vendette Styling to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes of the Chicago fashion world, and find out where the young designer gains her inspiration.

GlossMagazineOnline (GMO): What inspires your fashion sense and where do you gain inspiration?

Erika: I gain inspiration from every day people. Living in the city, I see so many different people and everyone’s fashion sense and character tells a story. I love to people watch. The city of Chicago and all of its hustle and bustle also inspires me. I gain inspiration from local fashion designers and artists who are so talented and humble in their work. They inspire me to work hard and to always visualize BIG.

GMO: How did you get into styling?

Erika: Styling just kind of fell into my lap. I started interning for a place called E-Couture, and I was asked to help out with styling. I tried it out and loved it. Transforming people, creating a vision, making art and calling it fashion is what I do.

GMO: How has your family reacted to your fashion career?

Erika: I grew up in a household with two brothers who always kept me grounded. They knew that I could have been outside getting into plenty of trouble. Instead, I was focused on going to school and pursuing my dream, which they were proud of. My mother, who was a fashion buyer, is my biggest inspiration, supporter and role model. She is where I have gained my work ethic from. Family is important, and the support is important when you are pursuing something that is very demanding. I love them for that.

GMO: Tell us about your styling company.

Erika: My company is called French Vendette and it’s a styling company. My vision is to team up with the hottest hair stylists, make-up artists, and up-and-coming designers to create and transform looks for our clients. I also style music videos and fashion shows, and plan to break into the film industry.

GMO: What has been the biggest challenge for you so far in the fashion industry?

Erika: Whoa, it’s funny you ask that because it has been so hard to get people to see, understand and accept my vision. In this business, you constantly have to prove that you are worthy enough. Transforming a person’s image is an emotional and mental battle, and you want to create a lasting image on the individual––which has been a challenge for me. Another challenge is getting people understand that this a business and NOTHING is free (laughs). Just like you pay to get your hair and nails done, stylists also are working very hard to provide services for you.

GMO: Who are some of your favorite designers?

Erika: Don’t get me wrong, we all love the Michael Kors and Chanel, but my inspiration comes from everyday people and designers. I can take a Target or Wal-Mart piece and transform it. It’s not about labels to me. Fashion can be created with the smallest, most inexpensive item and I want my clients to know that. Fashion is what you buy, not how you wear it. That’s called style.

GMO: Where do you see yourself and your company in the next five years?

Erika: I am taking the steps to work with more music artists. I also hope to break into the film industry. I see myself traveling and working with people all over the United States. I have already been invited to L.A. to help with styling, and I want to continue to grow and be in demand. I hope to create a team of people for my company that can take the fashion world by storm. I also want to work on making Chicago a place where fashion is more embraced. We know about Paris, L.A. and New York, but Chicago needs to be in that line up also.

GMO: What upcoming projects can we be on the lookout for, and what do you want to say to Chicago?

Erika: I am going to continue to style people and music videos, so please check out my website for updates on that. In the near future, I will be doing some styling around Chicago [that I can't reveal right now because of contracts], but follow me on Twitter and check my website for information on those events. To Chicago, I want to say that we all need to start helping each other in this industry and coming together to do BIGGER things for this city. There are so many talented artists and we could be better as a team.

GMO: How can you be contacted and where can we see more of your work?

Erika: I can be contacted at and on Twitter @vendettecouture.

Nicole Goodnight

Nicole Goodnight

Nicole Goodnight is a Ashford University graduate with a degree in Journalism. She is a Chicago suburb native from Evanston, IL, her interest are fashion, music, women's issues and travel. Nicole hopes to continue her career path in the media field where ever she can get her hands at. Nicole will soon be starting a blog highlighting her life interest and personal journeys.


She can be contacted at

Latest from Nicole Goodnight