Last summer, Refinery29 Research and Insights manager Candace Hokett took a leap, leaving her full-time job in order to pursue a creative passion she’d never been able to kick: fashion. Less than a year later, she’s the stylist behind the most beloved reality TV couple of 2020: Love Is Blind’s Lauren Speed and Cameron Hamilton.
“What a full-circle moment,” she remarked when I called her up a recent afternoon. The lovebirds are fresh off a press tour for the popular Netflix show that had contestants meet, fall in love, and get engaged without ever seeing each other. Lauren and Cameron are one of the show’s success stories, making it down the aisle and now, a year and a half later, still going strong. Their enduring love is the main inspiration behind their subtly-coordinated looks, the power of which rivals Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's latest press appearances — so much so that they even went viral, catapulting Lauren and Cameron to It-couple status.
“THIS is how you do a press tour,” one person wrote on Twitter, accompanied by a series of photos of Lauren and Cameron in their outfits, to the tune of over 16 thousand retweets.
Hokett has had experience all over the biz: a certification in tailoring from Fashion Institute of Technology, work as a buyer for major brands like Michael Kors and Calvin Klein, and a roster of high-profile clients that include musicians like Teyana Taylor. But it’s Lauren and Cameron who finally put Hokett in the much-deserved spotlight. The pair has gone from reality TV icons to relationship icons to fashion icons. Their love story touches on race, feminism, and independence — all things Hokett took into consideration when pulling their looks. Oh, that and the fact that Lauren used to be...her boss.
Refinery29: How did you get introduced to Lauren and Cameron?
Hokett: “I'm friends with Lauren. I actually knew her years ago. She was my boss at American Apparel when I was the only Howard girl for almost four years.”
Did she ask you to style them or was it just a happy coincidence?
“We just so happened to hit each other up a month or so before the show came on. She called me and said, ‘Hey, I'm doing a press tour and I'm really nervous, I don't think I have a lot to wear.’ It was a Saturday afternoon. By Monday...I was getting so many replies back from different showrooms that told me, ‘Yeah, come in right now.’ I was able to literally style her and Cam for the week at that point.”
So how did you approach picking clothes for them?
“Cameron's a grounded guy that's got so much hidden swag that people would never know. It's just been really fun getting him out of his comfort zone, trying different colors for him, and coordinating him along with Lauren. I know her, so I would never put her in something crazy, and I know him now. We're on an 'I love you' basis. That makes the relationship so much more trustworthy when it comes to taking potential risks in fashion and telling your story as a cohesive unit. They are together; they are united. I wanted people to see that and I don't think that would have ever happened with anyone other than someone who loved them from day one.”
People are especially loving that green suit Cameron wore.
“He looks great in green. He told me that literally the night before. I work really well under pressure, so it's kind of rewarding to see that you can turn things around sometimes.
I value so much of how he is a space for her to expand and he does not put a lid on her beautiful energy. He's there to hold space for her but to also allow her to really be her best self. And I think she does the same for him and is always in his corner and holding his hand right by his side.”
Were there any hidden messages or symbols in their outfits?
“The t-shirt that says ‘Black women are a gift from God.’ I just felt like for women's month, being this strong black woman out in the public eyes for the first time in your life with your new husband, you need to know that this is a God dream and I want everyone to see that this is your dream. It doesn't have to be a racial stance if you don't want [it to be]. You're here to speak on your love and at the same time be able to amplify the fact that your gift is within your uniqueness without having to exclude anyone else [while] still shining a light on black women.”
What did you learn about them through styling them, personality or relationship-wise, that we may have not seen on screen?
“They are just so unbelievably affectionate. There were definitely times where I had to be like, ‘Okay, lovebirds. Stop hugging and kissing in these outfits, y'all ain't even go anywhere yet.’
Some people DMed me and had the curiosity to say, 'Are they really in love?' And it's just so funny how jaded we as humans have become. For the first time in my life, I'm dreaming about my fairy tale situation that could come any which way. And it's all because my friend took a leap of faith and is so happy, and I can see it with my own two eyes.”
As a stylist working in such a visual medium, do you think love really can be blind?
“I can proudly say that someone who I loved for over 10 years, I met them without ever seeing them. A friend introduced us over the phone as teenage kids. Not until I got a MySpace with pictures did I ever see that person, and by that time I was smitten. And it took us years to go our separate paths and give it a rest, cause you're young and other things to do, different colleges, different careers, different countries. But I can say that love is definitely blind. I can say that that person has changed my life and I never regret meeting them the way that I have.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.