NBC New York

The Thread May 2011
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Half the fun of flipping through a glossy  magazine editorial is   getting lost in the fantasy:
Beyond the  spectacular clothes, it’s the   lavish sets, opulent details and dramatic  settings
that sell the   fairytale. Art director, set designer and  prop stylist Rhea Thierstein is one of
the chief engineers of these  fashion fairy tales. Her   outrageously creative set designs and
peculiar  props seem to defy   reality and occasionally, gravity: One of our  favorite Thierstein
projects, for example, depicts an enormous ship  caked in ice, come to   rest in a white living
room. We caught up with  Thierstein to see how   she got into the business and how much of what
she  does is actual   magic.
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Tell us about the first shoot or project you ever styled.
My first shoots were terrifying! I think the first shoot I did was   for a  music band. I had to
make lots of different objects out of   tinfoil. The  main turning point I remember was the shoot
I did with Tim   Walker with  Monty Python for Vanity Fair. I made hats and props for them and set
smoke bombs off. It was a lot of fun and was the first   defining moment  for me to pursue set
design and prop styling as a   career.
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If you weren’t working as a prop stylist, you’d probably be:
An animal conservationist. I’m fascinated with nature, tropical environments, and the animals and
insects that inhabit them. I’d love to    be able to be a part of wildlife conservation.
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BY Catherine Blair Pfander //
 Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 02:48 EDT  | Print