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The woman behind the look: Rachel Johnson

Damaris Lewis sits down with Rachel Johnson to discuss what it's like to dress the men of the NBA

POSTED: Mar 24, 2015 11:40 AM ET

By Damaris Lewis, Special to


For every player you see with immaculate style..... 9 times out of 10 there is a man or woman behind their signature look. The glue that holds their blazers together. The feet that power the shoes they arrive to the arena in. What I mean by that is, sometimes to be the best dressed, you have to be styled by the best. That's where Rachel Johnson comes in. Stylist to your favorite celebrities and athletes, Rachel has been behind the signature looks of countless household names over the years. I spoke to her about what it's like to work with one man in particular who needs no introduction to NBA Style, Mr. JR Smith.

Professional athlete stylist, Rachel Johnson @lovingrachel

Damaris: Has JR's move from New York to Cleveland affected anything about his style?

Rachel: Not at all. He wants to continue pushing forward with what he has been doing. And you know, the guys on the Cleveland team definitely all have their own style and have it perfected as far as fashion is concerned and JR is continuing to be apart of that movement and conversation.

NBA Style
J.R. Smith during the NBA All-Star All-Style

Damaris: We know you also style other celebrities. How does basketball differ to the other sports you style as far as the players go?

Rachel: Basketball players are a lot more visible, and they can be seen more as individuals than as team oriented. I really work with football and basketball players for the most part and you know, football players are different because they have larger teams and most are conditioned to operate within a group and not necessarily celebrate their individualism. I think that the culture in the NBA is different. It's ok for it to be about being unique and it's ok for you to use your platform to push your own brand forward.

Finalists Chandler Parsons and J.R. Smith speak on stage during the NBA All-Star All-Style presented by Samsung Galaxy

Damaris: Is your work as fast pace in the off-season as far as fashion goes or do the guys give it a break and turn off a little bit more?

Rachel: The off-season is even busier than in-season. I personally like in-season better because within the season they're on a schedule and they have to be where they have to be when they have to be there. In the summer time it's more like "I woke up on a Wednesday and I'm about to get on a boat," or " we're gonna go horseback riding in Napa today and I want full horseback riding gear." These are the things that they love to do in the summer when they do have time to themselves so the ask and the schedule is a lot less controllable. Everybody that I work for loves to work off-the-court as well. In the off-season that's also the time people are working to continue to nurture their marketing relationships with their brand partners or creating new ones or executing existing contracts, etc.

Damaris: So if a guy asks you for a scuba diving outfit you have to find one?

Rachel: If they ask for one I will be finding one. Whatever the creative mind sparks, I'm here to execute it.

Damaris: It's definitely inspiring to see how much trust these guys have in you especially since they know that the outside world is still kind of getting used to the fashion side of the NBA. When it comes to the guys we automatically think of with the best style the names Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade all pop into our minds but there are so many more with an amazing sense of fashion. In JR's case, what's one word you would use to describe his style?

Rachel: Wavy. He's wavy.

Charles Barkley, LeBron James, Carrie Keagan, Shaquille O'Neal prepare to announce the winner between finalists Chandler Parsons and J. R. Smith during The NBA All-Star All-Style presented by Samsung Galaxy

Damaris: What do you think is next in the JR world of fashion?

Rachel: What JR, his team, and I are working on is to continue to carve out a space for him within the fashion community. I want, he wants, we all want him to be more involved and paired with brand partners that he may have not been paired with before. He and Jenne Lombardo have a great relationship, and they were able to collaborate on a party last fashion week for Made. It's something you wouldn't expect. I think that JR's reputation unfortunately is a very big misrepresentation of his personality. I think he's made some decisions that have affected how the public views him, but any negative comments you've ever seen about his character are completely untrue. I know that only because I know him and I work with him so closely and I get to see how passionately he his about what he's passionate about.

Winner J. R. Smith poses with his award prize

-- Damaris Lewis is a professional model, dancer, sports fan and lover of all things style. You can follow her on Twitter at @DamarisLewis