5 posts tagged "Ilaria Urbinati"
Dressing for Fame: Ilaria Urbinati Talks Styling Shailene Woodley and a Gaggle of Hollywood’s Leading Gents-------
If celebrity status is conferred in red-carpet appearances, then no actress today can compete without the help of just the right stylist. As Kerry Washington once told Glamour after she noticeably upped the sartorial ante, “There were a couple of actresses whom I felt were having the upper hand careerwise—because they knew how to work that red carpet.” A carefully crafted collaboration between stylist and client, the perfect look can create an indelible impact on agents, casting directors, and those of us watching from the sidelines. Straight from the epicenter of all things celebrity, we’ve asked some of the industry’s top stylists to share their experiences and impressions from their perch above Tinseltown. With our Dressing for Fame series, we bring you an exclusive, insider look at everything it takes to create those iconic moments captured by a million photo flashes.
Sure, the ladies generally reign supreme on the red carpet, but sometimes it’s tailored menswear that gets our undivided attention. Stylist Ilaria Urbinati has A-list actresses (like Shailene Woodley) and dapper leading gents (including Bradley Cooper) on her client roster. The latter bunch call on her for every camera-captured turn. Here, she talks to Style.com about styling politics, what it takes to prep a man for the red carpet, and why she thinks being a Virgo has helped her career.
How did you begin styling?
I started out in retail. I was a buyer for various boutiques—Satine, Milk, and my aunt’s store Laura Urbinati—almost right out of high school. I would style a lot of the lookbooks and runway shows for the designers we carried in the stores. I eventually went freelance and just kept going from there!
What about your early experience sets you apart from other stylists?
I grew up in a family of crazy workers. Work ethic ranked really high in our household, so I’m a bit of a machine when it comes to the hours I’m willing to put in. I also grew up in Europe in a pretty artistic family—my mom and grandpa are art dealers, my father is a photographer, and my aunt and sister are both designers. I knew who Irving Penn and Richard Avedon were before I knew basic math, so this stuff’s been seeping in since before I even realized it. Having that mental database of fashion and the arts definitely affects my sense of aesthetic. I’m also a super anal-retentive and over-organized crazy Virgo, which makes me really efficient. I don’t know how in the world someone could be a stylist and not be super-organized—it would be impossible.
You style a host of A-list actors, from Bradley Cooper and Chris Evans to Armie Hammer and Will Arnett. How does dressing men differ from styling women?
People always assume dressing men is easier. That’s true in the sense that there are way less politics than there are with women—there’s no fighting to get your hands on certain dresses that can only be worn once. But it isn’t easier in the sense that menswear takes precision and a certain meticulousness. It’s all about the details, tailoring, color combos, and fabric. Quality is key, and you can’t get away with a cheap suit. It’s really about trying to think outside the box because you have more limitations with menswear. I have zero interest in putting a guy in just another gray or black suit. But I also don’t believe in too many bells and whistles. You need to strike the right balance.
When dressing men, what’s the first step? Is it a collaborative process? And where do you find inspiration?
I’m always into some new thing, whether it be printed shirts or a new color combo, so I get really excited to try it on my guys. It’s always a collaborative process. It’s important to me that the guy always feels like himself, while maybe trying something new every once in a while. There’s a lot of camaraderie in fittings, so we make jokes like, “Shut up, look pretty, do what I say, and you’ll be the best-dressed you in the room.” I find that men are able to have such a great sense of humor about fittings and fashion—they don’t take it too seriously, in a good way.
Shailene Woodley has drawn a ton of attention lately for her head-turning red-carpet appearances. What is it like to work with her?
Shailene is just such a special human, she really is so heaven. We are always on the same page, and I think she likes that I don’t try to make her look like someone she’s not, but also encourage her to try new things. For instance, we do a lot of bright colors, which was new for her.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
The politics, for sure. You just want to do your job and put your clients in your favorite looks, but it’s not always that simple. There’s the celebrity’s team to contend with, there’s the designers’ wishes to keep in mind—like sometimes we’ll run into a problem when I want to put a dress on someone but the event won’t have photos. Certain designers only lend to certain girls but not others, and there’s not always any rhyme or reason to it. It’s all about who the designers like personally, basically—who they’re fans of.
Sometimes I feel like I have to play publicist. I’ll pitch the client to the designer: “Look how many covers they are on! Look at this big movie they have coming out! They’re blowing up!” It’s silly, but it helps!
What’s your favorite part of the job?
The relationship with the client. I feel lucky because I truly love my clients—some of them feel like family. It’s a really intimate relationship, to dress someone. And I love that collaborative process. The best compliment I can get is that my client feels like him or herself. And I would never want my clients to all dress the same. I don’t want them to have an “Ilaria signature look.” I want their look to feel unique to them.
I also love that there’s a real bond within this generation of stylists. We aren’t competitive and we root for each other. Kemal & Karla, Jeanne Yang, Wendi and Nicole Ferreira, Cher Coulter, Sam McMillen, Joseph Cassell—we are all buddies, and we are genuinely excited for each other when we have a great fashion hit.”
It was JFK to LAX for the boys of Warby Parker who teamed up with a bespectacled Ashton Kutcher to celebrate their new shop-in-shop at L.A.’s Confederacy, the label’s first specs-on-the-ground presence on the left coast. “There is a misperception by the rest of the country of Southern California. And the Southern California that we know is one driven by art and one driven by startups and a fashion community,” co-founder Neil Blumenthal (above right) said of the brand’s new home. “We want to feel part of it even though we’re on the other side of the country.”
Attracting their usual crown of discerning Angelenos, Danny Masterson took turns behind the DJ booth while store owner Ilaria Urbinati chatted up Showtime starlets Emmy Rossum and Madeline Zima. Set to sell their specs through the holidays (including the release of their sunglass collaboration with Suno next week), the L.A. launch was a departure from the brand’s strong Northeast presence, but still logical for Warby Parker’s other co-founder, the San Diego-bred Dave Gilboa (above left). “We wanted to be careful about how we entered the L.A. market because we feel it is so important in terms of style and fashion.” And partnering with Confederacy was the perfect fit. “Ilaria and Danny have captured the same classic American point of view with references to the forties and fifties and aesthetic as we do.”
Since opening in late 2008, Confederacy, Ilaria Urbinati and Danny Masterson’s hipster haven, has served as the retail outpost for L.A.’s eastside cognoscenti. The 5,000-square-foot space in Los Feliz has housed limited-edition Calvin Klein dresses, a suit collection from the Strokes’ Albert Hammond, Jr., and collections from the likes of Proenza Schouler, Phillip Lim, and Jenni Kayne. But as strong as their womenswear business is, it’s no patch on the men’s, and the duo is phasing it out to focus on menswear. “At the end of the day, it’s hard to argue with the numbers and our menswear is just so strong,” Urbinati said of the decision. “We have a lot of industry people coming in—a lot of actors, of course, but also quite a lot of musicians. They like to come in every few weeks, stock up on their Band of Outsiders shirts, some J.Lindeberg, Gant, Shipley & Halmos, and Rag & Bone. And then of course we have a huge business in suiting. They love the Band, Spurr, and Native Son.” Locals can also expect round two of the Albert Hammond line, projected for Spring ’12.
But ladies won’t be left out in the cold. The now-vacated womenswear space in Confederacy is set to get a new tenant: Urbinati’s close friend, Rebecca Minkoff (right, with Urbinati). “L.A. is extremely important to us,” Minkoff told Style.com. “We already have such a strong connection with our East Coast consumer that we wanted that same relationship on the West Coast.” Using the new space as a left-coast laboratory, the shop-in-shop will allow the brand to get to know their customers on a whole new level. “Brick and mortar allows us to interact with the customer in a way we previously haven’t been able to,” Minkoff continued. And given her longstanding relationship with Urbinati, who has been the line’s friend, muse, and stylist for years, expect some collaborations in the future, too.
It took some patience, but Ilaria Urbinati, the stylist and co-owner of L.A.’s Confederacy, finally got Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos over to the West Coast. “We’ve had this on the calendar for a while,” conceded Halmos (pictured above, with Urbinati and Confederacy co-owner Danny Masterson). “We’ve known Ilaria since she started out as a stylist, and she’s been carrying our line here since the very beginning.” They’re now getting an added vote of confidence: Urbinati commissioned the duo to design her staff uniforms, which debuted at a party in their honor last night. Tara Subkoff, Hilary Duff, and Bijou Phillips were among the revelers taking in the long-sleeved black silk button- downs with chiffon sleeves and black and white printed silk shorts. Not that they needed a job on the sales floor to walk away with some S&H goods. The designers were previewing their Fall ’10 collection, which, they said, was perfect for the L.A. weather. “Our outerwear is particularly strong. Even in L.A., you can deconstruct the pieces and still wear them. And we happen to make a great leather jacket.” That’s something it’s easy to enjoy nationwide, but there are a few pleasures exclusive to the Wild West. “In-N-Out was our first stop,” Shipley admitted.
It’s all coming full circle. Rebecca Minkoff started out designing clothes in 2001, but a good friend, the actress Jenna Elfman, prevailed on her to create a bag for an upcoming film. Thus was the Morning After bag born, and with it a booming business in the accessories trade. These days, Minkoff even claims an official fan club. Somewhere along the way, however, the clothes got scuttled. Now they’re back: Members of the Rebecca Minkoff fan club can rejoice in the fact that the designer is relaunching her apparel collection this week. And once again, Minkoff has been nudged along by a good friend, in this case the stylist Ilaria Urbinati. The two co-design the new Rebecca Minkoff sportswear label, which relaunched for Spring ’09. The first collection will be offered solely through Minkoff’s Web site and at Confederacy, Urbinati’s store in L.A. “We wanted to have a laboratory where we could test the reaction to the clothes,” explains Minkoff. “You know, I have my customer who loves the bags, and I don’t want to alienate her. I feel like this way, my fans get the first crack.” That exclusivity won’t last too long—this evening, Minkoff and Urbinati are presenting their Fall ’09 collection at Milk, alongside Minkoff’s new handbags. “We cover a lot of styles that are pretty basic, like T-shirts or a pair of black pants. But what we really like to do is incorporate kind of, well, random inspirations into details that will make people take that second look.” References for Fall include a photo of Bob Dylan in westernwear and several June Carter-ish dresses owned by Urbinati’s grandmother. “It’s not like we’re doing anything too out-there and western-themed,” notes Minkoff. “That’s just where we started, like, right now, it seems like Spring ’10 might have something to do with Twilight. Sometimes,” she adds, “you just need that one little push that gets you going.”