How I Got Here: The Three Jobs That Shaped Mecca James-Williams’s Point of View

After my time at Opening Ceremony I went deep into freelance styling, assisting everybody from Karl Templer to Sophia Neophitou. It’s been a joy of mine to have assisted stylists and freelance in that way. But one of my most gear-shifting moments was working with Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert, and being her first assistant. She really showed me such a glamorous and luxurious scope of fashion. I assisted her for about two years from 2015 to 2017, and I traveled to something like seven countries. I think I got my first passport working with her. It was a really beautiful time where I was growing up and stepping up into the next point in my career. We worked on everything from Michael Kors campaigns to Nancy Gonzalez campaigns.

In my book, she was definitely somebody who wore and styled clothing on herself and on other people in a way that told an authentic story. I think as a result, so much of who I am today as a fashion stylist and a fashion editor comes from her. It’s so interesting because I think people sometimes are like, “Well, wait, are you a stylist? Or are you this?” And I’m like, “I’m all of it. You know?” I saw a blueprint from somebody else who was so imaginative and revealed what it could be for myself.

Some of the work that I’m really proud of includes the Essence editorials that I’ve done. I love the work that I produced at The Zoe Report after it relaunched in 2018. I think The Zoe Report was such a niche platform under Rachel Zoe. Our job was to broaden its horizon and we did that by cultivating fresh voices and new perspectives.

I was the lead market and fashion contributor for that site. We had very limited resources, but we took it and we ran with it! It was such a dream to be able to bring some fashion heavy hitters, including products from Gucci to Dior. We were able to bring them into a fold in a way that the publication just didn’t have prior. I think I bloomed in a way that was so refreshing. Fast forward and I would be styling Solange’s 2019 album When I Get Home.

Photo: Courtesy of Mecca James-Williams

I’m still very proud of the work that I did at The Zoe Report prepandemic. My favorite editorial was one that we did in upstate New York, and it was basically about swimwear that can go from the pool to an everyday outfit. We shot three models, including Alva Claire. It was really important for us to show a full-figured woman in swimwear. It was a huge conversation at the time and still is. I am a full-figured woman also, but I really wanted to use this opportunity not just to style a cover up or a big frumpy look but give looks that really attested to curves.

My career is still just beginning. Right now I’m so refreshed by the opportunities and the ways in which I can grow and flow. I’m stepping outside of what the industry says a stylist or editor can be. I really like piecing all my different worlds together. Mostly, I’m excited to see what comes of it and what I showcase to the world. Having a point of view is so important to me, and I hope that people can see that.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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