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Char Hatch Langos, stylist

Char Hatch Langos, stylist

If you’re a magazine aficionado, chances are you’ve seen the lovely work of prop stylist Char Hatch Langos. Her interior styling has appeared in home design and lifestyle publications from Elle Décor and House Beautiful to Coastal Living and InStyle. A fixture on photo shoots up and down the West Coast, editors have come to rely on Char to make each photograph worth a thousand words. Check out her work at


PPF: When you were little, what did you tell people you wanted to be when you grew up?

CHL: A plumber. I kid you not. It’s a classic family story that I told my nursery school teacher just that.


PPF:  How long did that dream last?

CHL: Not long.  After that, I pretty much dreamed of being a mommy like the one I had. I had an entire dormitory of dolls and beds set up in my room. By junior high, I wanted to be a track star. And then my sophomore year of college, my dad took me to a Paul Klee exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and I changed my major to art history.


PPF: Were you artistic as a child? Did your parents encourage that?

CHL: My father was a photojournalist. That’s about as artistic of a career example as you can get.  My mother was a portrait photographer, as was her father. Needless to say, my childhood is pretty well visually documented.


PPF: What was your first real job?

CHL: At 12, I swept racquetball courts at a local club.  Then, a couple years at a movie theater. I sold the tickets and my best guy friend was the usher. We had the best time ever. After that is was the sunglass shop, the teddy bear shop, and the tanning bed salon. Give me a break. It was the ‘80s.


PPF: Were you formally trained to do what you do now?

CHL: I was, without knowing it. The main requirement of my job is to be opinionated. You have to believe and stand by something looking dreadful or spectacular.  I was aesthetically “trained” in the New York art world.  I worked for the legendary dealer, Leo Castelli for eight years in my early 20’s and learned how to look at something and form and articulate an opinion on it.  I built a great visual vocabulary at the gallery.  Leo was a fan of saying, “Well now, that isn’t very interesting, is it?”  Add the gorgeous Italian accent.


PPF: I want to hear the story of how you became a stylist.

CHL: I left the art world and started over in publishing. I was so fortunate to get a position at House Beautiful.  I was with the magazine nearly eight years, both in the New York office and in Los Angeles as the West Coast Editor.  That run included three editors in chief.  When I didn’t survive the fourth one, I started my freelance career. I have styled interiors for the greatest variety of magazines–Elle Decor, Better Homes & Gardens, InStyle, House & Garden, Family Circle, People–serious variety. That, after all, is the fun of freelance.


PPF: Was there ever a moment in your life or career where gears shifted, where everything changed, and you had to roll with it or reinvent yourself?

CHL: Yes, a few years ago when there was simply very little work to be had.  I started doing the same interior styling for the real estate market, preparing people’s houses to be put on the market.  It is really challenging and extremely satisfying—and a great diversion from editorial shoots.


PPF: Was there a particular mentor, or a person who believed in you and gave you a chance when no one else would?

CHL: Carolyn Sollis, the then-executive editor at House Beautiful magazine. She hired me when I was 30, with no magazine experience, and she threw me in the deep end. Her generosity toward me made all the difference in the world, and in my future career. If she had not entrusted me with so much in those years, I would have never been prepared for a freelance career when it came my way.


PPF: Is L.A. an easy or a difficult place to find success?

CHL: It’s inconsequential to success. Los Angeles is simply such a dreamy place to live your life, that the success of a career is secondary.


PPF: What do you most love about L.A.? What are the things you would miss most if you ever left? 

CHL: I love the equally easy access to the ocean or the mountains. My daughter has to choose whether to go paddle boarding or snowboarding. That’s our version of spoiled. The seasonal scents in the air—orange blossom, jasmine, magnolia. That’s how you know the seasons are changing when it’s 70 degrees and sunny. True diversity in my children’s classrooms. My mom. She moved here with my dad eight years ago to be closer to my kids. We’re truly in each other’s lives and at each other’s dinner tables. The fact that Larchmont Village is one block from my house. When my son wants an ice cream, he knows we are walking to get it and that his pal Able at Baskin Robbins knows that he wants a single scoop of mint chip in a cake cone when we walk in the door.


PPF: L.A. is a city where style is important. How do you define good style?

CHL: Good style appears effortless—like the magnolia tree in my front yard.


PPF: How do you define your style?

CHL: Ever-evolving, unresolved, accidental, plus lots of white.


PPF: Who would you say are—or were—arbiters of effortless style?

CHL: Natalie Portman. She’s well-heeled, well-edited. Love that. Richard Gere, because he’s still got it going on. Johnny Cash, because of his unwavering commitment to his own style. And the New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham. The bicycle, the cobalt blue cardigan, the smile.


PPF:  What is the greatest shoot you’ve ever been a part of?

CHL: Shooting for the Viceroy Hotel Group the Tides Riviera Maya for a week with a brilliant crew of strangers—who, with time and tequila, became great friends.


PPF: I know that hotel well. I wrote about it once, before Viceroy bought it. It was an unforgettable trip. Speaking of, is there a certain shoot that was unforgettable in some way to you, personally?

CHL: The most influential and life-changing shoot was an entertaining story for Bon Appétit in a cherry orchard in Oregon. I was working with a photographer I had never met before, Fran Gealer, and her assistant Cyndi Finkle. It was the summer of 2002, and I was very pregnant. Fran was very involved with Golden Bridge Yoga back in Los Angeles, and Cyndi had a one-year-old at home. They both persuaded me to go to pre-natal classes with Ghurmukh when I returned home, and I did the day I got back to L.A. In that class, I met women who are still my best friends in L.A., and whose kids are my daughter’s great friends. It changed my life.  And changed the way I had—and am raising—both my children.  And I thank Fran and Cyndi every single time I see them.


PPF: The world gets smaller with everything you say. Fran Gealer shot my wedding! We met shooting the chef, Tom Douglas, in Seattle. She has such a calming presence. Frannie helped me with breathing exercises to remain calm before the ceremony. I adore her, and her work.    

CHL: She is the best.


PPF: So who is the coolest person you’ve ever had the pleasure of working with?

CHL: I once scouted Angela Lansbury’s garden. She toured me through it herself. I was in complete awe of her incredible personal style the entire time. I called my grandma right afterward, as she was a great fan of “Murder, She Wrote.”


PPF: You were part of the art world for a large portion of your career. Do you have a piece of art you wouldn’t ever want to part with—the one that you would grab in the event of a fire in your house?

CHL: I have a watercolor by Eric Fischl. It was the first piece of real art I ever bought—a tiny, orange nude, the essence of style itself. And then, of course, the felt, heart-shaped pillow my daughter made for me when she was seven.


PPF: What has been the lowest point in your career?

CHL: The lowest point was when I realized I was done at the art gallery.  After eight years, I knew I had worked for the best, and it was time to move on. I just didn’t know which way to turn. I needed to find a new love, after a decade of focus on art.


PPF: What has been the highest point so far?

CHL: The highest point was a phone message from Marian McEvoy after my very first shoot for her when she was the new editor in chief at House Beautiful.  She was happy with the film that had come in from Ray Kachatorian and said, “You got it Char, first time out of the gate! Brilliant, good work.” My heart was racing.


PPF: How hard is it to be a working mom? What is your biggest challenge in that regard?

CHL: The biggest challenge of my life is being a mom. The next biggest challenge is working. So, how hard is it? Hard! And like all challenges, well worth it. It’s easy math—motherhood plus working equals challenge.


PPF: What advice do you have for moms who work outside the home, too?

CHL: It is hard to leave the love of your life. But time apart, and time for each of you with others is, in the end, good. You are giving them the gift of the message that they can do this. Bottom line, you can be each other’s favorite person on this earth and not be each other’s oxygen.


PPF: What is essential to helping you do your best work?

CHL: Not taking it too seriously. Chanting to myself, “It’s a decorating shoot…it’s a decorating shoot.”


PPF: Describe your version of the perfect Saturday.

CHL: It starts with my four-year-old calling, “Mommy, I’m awake.” Then, serious coffee. Illy Caffe made in a Bialetti stovetop pot. I have been enthusiastically complimented on my preparation of this. It would include a bike ride on the beach, or a hike in the Hollywood Hills. I became such a sporty spice in my early 40′s when I discovered hiking. Before that, I was essentially allergic to sport. But hiking changed all that, because I could still chit chat and catch up with a friend while hiking. I agree with Erma Bombeck when she said, “I do not participate in any sport with ambulances at the bottom of a hill.” Time with my family, of course, which usually includes ice cream from some place in Larchmont Village. Satellite radio, channel 31. The coffee house for all acoustic. The Annenburg Beach House. Dark chocolate. Red wine. And bottom line for the perfect day, the right company.


PPF: Who most inspires you and why?

CHL: As I was growing up, I watched both of my parents do things they loved. That inspired me to find what I love. They always encouraged me, for better or worse.


PPF: What job could you never, ever, do, no matter how broke you were?

CHL: A goalie on any sports team. The pressure and anxiety would be unbearable.


PPF: When have you been most brave in your life?

CHL: When my nine-year-old daughter, Lily Pearl, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Actually, that is probably when she was most brave, and I just followed her lead.


PPF: When have you been most afraid?

CHL: When I realized I was in my early 40s and had not yet had the second child that was so earth-shatteringly important to me. I was like the girl holding her head in that Lichtenstein painting, saying, “I can’t believe it. I forgot to have children.”


PPF: What is the best advice you ever got?

CHL: When I was preparing to cut my long hair very short in 1997 and worrying about what a mess it would be to grow back out, my mom said, “Don’t go into something worried about how to fix it if you don’t like it.”


PPF: What do you want your last meal on earth to be?

CHL: Fish tacos and margaritas on the beach.


PPF:  Yum. That’s one of my top five favorite meals, too. So these are everyone’s fun questions:

CHL:  Ok. Ready.


PPF: What’s on your bedside table right now?

CHL: The last picture of my father and son together, a much-needed self-help book, a favorite and tattered book of poetry, a novel by Joan Didion, water, lip balm.


PPF: What’s the trip you keep talking about taking “one day?”

CHL: Hawaii. Seriously, I live in Los Angeles and have never been to Hawaii. What’s with that?


PPF: First concert you ever went to?

CHL: Peter Paul and Mary with my parents. Then I listened to the eight-track tape incessantly afterward.


PPF: Best concert you ever went to?

CHL: Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” tour with my 30-years-later-and-still-best friend Tammy.


PPF: Song that would be the title track to the soundtrack of your life?

CHL: “Daughter” by Loudon Wainwright III, I guess because I always will be a daughter and thankfully, always will have one. Or “I Could Have Danced All Night.”


PPF: What are you good at that would surprise a lot of people?

CHL: Shuffleboard. I used to play incessantly on family vacations. It’s a skill that stays with you. Mixing a cocktail without measuring. And shuffling a deck of cards. My daughter’s mouth dropped the first time she saw me do it.


PPF: Who would you most like to hear answer these questions?

CHL: My grandchildren. That’s 20 years away, but I can’t wait.



  1. Hey Char and Paige! Great interview…You two are in the West Coast creative hall of fame…yet have such a great, relaxed view of it all. Missing your CA turf :)

  2. such a great interview. and a card shark to boot.

  3. Witty words from my very thoughtful and wise friend! xo

  4. what a witty, wise woman! i’d love to know her.

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