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Meet Pia Malatesta of Last Looks in Malibu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Pia Malatesta.

Pia, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born in NYC and raised in Miami, FL. As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be in the Entertainment/Fashion industry. My earliest influences started at home. I would watch as my mother, a hairstylist, would create fashionable hairstyles for fabulous people. My stepfather who raised me was a well known Hispanic comedian. When he was away from home on tour, we anxiously watched his performances on television, and when he would return home, I couldn’t wait to hear his stories from far away places. Somehow, and in some way, I knew I was going to be a part of this fabulous world.

I got my start in music. I was working for a major dance club overseeing promotions and attending the biggest events every night of the week. It was the early 90s, the hey days of the South Beach dance club scene, when celebrities like Lenny Kravitz, Madonna and Dennis Rodman were nightly regulars. The scene was epic, and it only further ignited my passion for music. I decided to move to NYC and further pursue my career in music. I spent my days looking for my first gig at a record label while waiting tables at the Coffee Shop in Union Square at night. After what felt like a million interviews, I finally landed the gig, Asst. to the Head of A&R at Bad Boy Records. After a few years there, although I had learnt so much about the industry, I felt like I wanted more growth and more responsibility. That leads me to a new record label, ARISTA Records, and a new position in A&R Admin.

I was living the life, working at yet another major record label, meeting the goals I had set for myself, but I just didn’t feel complete, or even that happy. The daily workload, mainly dealing with budgets and contracts, was pulling me further away from the creative process. Something had to change, so after a couple of years at ARISTA, I resigned, took a step back and decided to reassess my future. With my new open schedule, I decided to enroll in classes at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). It was around this time, a friend of mine, a location scout, suggested I might like working in the TV & Film industry. I knew nearly nothing about the industry at the time, but I was open to looking into it. While attending school, I landed my first gig in TV Production. I was hired as a Production Assistant on the set of “Me Against the Music,” a video directed by Paul Hunter featuring Madonna and Britney Spears. I was hooked.

Over the next few years, I worked my way through the production ranks, coordinating & managing productions for commercials and videos. I was able to work on so many different types of sets, getting to know all the other departments, what they did and how they worked. I knew then, Wardrobe Department was where I wanted and needed to be. Over the course of my 15 plus year career, I have trained and worked under some amazing (and not so amazing) Stylists. I’ve learnt so much from both the good and the bad, and those experiences have enabled me to build a well-rounded career. I’ve had the opportunity to work on countless Commercials, TV, Print and Web projects. When I’m not on a set, I work privately with clients offering Personal Styling Services via my company Last Looks. My work in this arena varies; from styling a client for an upcoming event to doing a total refresh of a client’s closet.

For years, I divided my time and my life between summers in NY and winters in Miami. My husband and I love the outdoors, especially surfing and the lifestyle it brings. So we, along with our English Bull Terrier, decided to move out West, and more specifically Malibu, one of the most iconic surf spots in the world. Living out here allows me to live an outdoor lifestyle while still pursuing my bigger goals of working on episodic shows and/or feature films. LA is the best place to do this, and Malibu is the dreamiest of places to call home.

Meanwhile, over the last year, my photographer husband and I, decided to work together to design and Interior style our new home for a collaborative design book project, documenting it all via Instagram @casitaola and Tumblr casitaola.tumblr.com (shameless plug lol). Styling Interiors feels quite natural to my styling evolution, especially since on many jobs I’m asked to style the set interiors along with the clothing. Producing a book has come with many challenges, but that only helps us feel much more equipped in our abilities for our next project. That said, I don’t think any of us could’ve been prepared for the COVID-19 virus.

Although the current global pandemic has thrown a bit of a wrench into the mix, I’m always thinking of creative ways to push my self and keep my passions stoked. I’ve been taking this time of stay at home isolation, to learn all the new practices and guidelines for working safely with the threat of COVID-19. My clients need to know that I am doing everything I can to make sure we can all work safely and stay healthy along the way. This “down” time has also allowed me to start an Instagram Live styling show @pia4lastlooks called “Closet to Closet with Pia.” During my shows, I invite guests to join me in my closet live and I help them with wardrobe issues, anything from styling a particular outfit to advice on how to refresh your current closet to achieve a fresh new look. So far, I’ve only done a few shows, but the response has been great. It has been good fun to engage with my followers and give back during a time when not everyone can afford a luxury service like what I offer. I get such satisfaction knowing that I helped someone put together a new look that makes them feel great. For now, I’m aiming to do my shows on a weekly basis every Friday at 1pm PST.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As you can tell, my path to this point today has not been direct. Transitioning careers from the music industry to TV & Film meant starting from the bottom again. I basically had to grow an entirely new network of people in a new industry. Working as a freelancer in any industry is always a major hustle. Add to this, moving to a new market out West. It’s certainly a big challenge, especially in an industry that can many times be all about who you know. That said, as long as you have a strong passion for what you do, the challenges really become opportunities for growth.

Last Looks – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m a Freelance Wardrobe Stylist. At the most basic, I dress people for a living. At the most profound, I’m part of a team of creatives that realizes a vision and makes it come to life.

I help people find themselves in their fashion and most importantly, I help them feel good because they look good. That can either happen at a very personal client to client level, or it can mean really dialing in the look and feel on a much broader scale such as on a TV, Commercial, Print or Web project.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
At this point, I’m proud to say that my career thus far, has taken me many places around the globe, from the mountains of Utah to the streets of Buenos Aires. I’m truly grateful for all the opportunities that I have had and all the interesting people I’ve been able to meet and work with along the way. Though, I have to admit, getting my invite to my first Fashion Week felt pretty sweet. 🙂

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