After spending almost a decade working in fashion and the movie industry in Los Angeles, Dominique V. Richardson sought a change. He packed up his bags and moved to Paris, where he now works in French fashion. He speaks about his move, work and the differences between America and Paris.
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I had to follow my dream
I moved to Los Angeles in 2010 to work as an Emergency Medical Technician. I found myself sitting in the back of the ambulance but I knew that life wasn’t for me. I’d always had a passion for costumes in TV and movies so I decided to switch to costume design and fashion. I’ve never looked back.
To start with I worked in events. Working in events allowed me to make connections with people in fashion. I needed those people to get my foot in the door and from there the opportunities kept coming. I was really chasing my dream.
I did a lot of things I’m really proud of in LA. I was especially proud of the work I did on a pilot for YouTube. It was the perfect place to start my career, even if I always had a love-hate relationship with the city, it can be a hard place to live sometimes.
After a while, I needed a challenge. Something new to excite me and force me to evolve. Hollywood is the same as it was 50 years ago in a lot of ways. After 8 years working my way up in the industry, I got an opportunity to work in Paris, and I knew I'd regret not taking it. So I made the jump and moved. Since moving here, I’ve been working more in costume and wardrobe for films than I was before. I’m loving it.
Moving to LA almost a decade ago felt like a big step at the time and I’d experienced a degree of culture shock, but that was nothing compared to what I felt when I moved to France.
Paris has changed me. Everything is the opposite. Living here has made me change my diet. Back in LA I’d be having a protein with every meal, they don’t do that here, you don’t need it. The way people live is different. People here have genuine conversations. I don’t know if that ever happened in LA. In America if someone asks you how your day is you just say good and move on, here if you’re having a bad day you can actually talk about it.
My move to France fell into place very quickly, and one of the things I didn't have a chance to plan was how to move my money to Europe. I initially used PayPal, but it was challenging and stressful and ended up costing me loads of money. Then a few people started recommending Wise to me, so I signed up and now I use it for all my international payments. I compared the prices to PayPal and Wise was so much cheaper, I pay pennies for Wise. I was so thankful. I even use it to pay the bills I still have in the United States, and I’ve also got the debit card, which is perfect for when I’m traveling.
Working in France has been exciting. I’m glad I pushed myself to do it. I’ve been able to work in fashion here and work on film projects I’m passionate about, there’s a lot of difference here. Paris has such a different fashion culture than LA so I’ve done different things and I love it. When things open up again I’m excited for what’s coming next.
I got over celebrity quickly
Building a network in LA was important because connections were vital to get started in films and TV. I got the opportunity to work with the actor and dancer Dita Von Teese because a photographer I worked with made the recommendation to her and got me in. Ever since then I made friends with the people I worked with and it’s led to more opportunities for me including now here in Paris.
Knowing that you need a network to find your next job helps with dealing with the celebrities that you’re going to work with. It’s easy to freak-out when you’re working with celebrities but you have to be professional.
I still have nightmares about the time I was working with Catherine O’Hara. I was a big fan, and I freaked out. I was telling her all about how much Home Alone meant to me, it’s the perfect Christmas movie, and I was crying. I’m never going to lose it ever again while on the job! Thankfully she was very gracious and reassured me it was okay.
Skills you gain from networking really get you through the difficult work of making a movie. It’s easy to focus on the glamor and it is fun but you have to be a people person. When working on a movie you’re going to be working with these people for months and you’ll see them more than your family. You need to get along! I’m grateful to have made lifelong friends in some of the films I’ve worked on.
Fashion and film used to just be things that were only centered in a few big cities but now it’s a global thing. It’s been wonderful to see and be part of that change.
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As told to Chris Hockman, exclusively for Wise.
Photography provided by Dominique V. Richardson to learn more about Dominique’s work, click here.
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