3 posts tagged "Mel Ottenberg"
When your world tour is called Diamonds, the wardrobe had better sparkle. Luckily, Rihanna had stylist Mel Ottenberg on hand to ensure that her looks do just that. Featuring a total of—count ‘em—seven costumes, each of which was custom made by a megawatt designer (think Riccardo Tisci, Raf Simons, Alber Elbaz, and Adam Selman—Rihanna’s River Island collaborator), the pop star’s onstage wares boast everything from holographs to “orgy” embroidery (courtesy of Givenchy, naturally). “The most amazing thing about Rihanna is what a chameleon she is,” said Ottenberg, who’s worked with Riri for two years. “She’s always up for something new. She’s fearless, she knows what she likes, and it’s fun to see which ideas she’ll jump for.”
The Diamonds lineup begins with a bespoke black Givenchy Couture cape, embroidered coat, shorts, bra, and boots, and ends with a shimmering tailor-made Lanvin jumpsuit. “Riccardo blew it out of the park,” said Ottenberg. “And Givenchy went above and beyond with the level of customization, and dealing with all the pop-world craziness.” (Adding to said craziness was the fact that the entire wardrobe had to be put together in the middle of fashion week.) “And with Lanvin, I knew that, more than anybody, [Alber] would just murder a strong sparkly look to work with the idea of Diamonds.” Each outfit, Ottenberg tells us, plays off creative director Willo Perron’s multi-themed tour concept. For instance, one section, during which Rihanna sings “Rude Boy” and “Man Down,” has a hip-hop-cum-dance-hall vibe. This is where Raf Simons’ graphic oversize T-shirt dress (which is worn with Louboutin boots and a Michael Schmidt nameplate necklace) comes in. For a more rock ‘n’ roll section, Selman created a red-and-yellow leather bra and pants ensemble that’s finished off with white Manolo Blahnik boots. “It was eighties David Lee Roth bouncing around on stage mixed with a sleek Lamborghini/Ferrari situation,” Ottenberg laughs. And Selman’s much-talked-about holographic money-print dress and coat—which Rihanna wears during a rave portion of the show—actually began with a pair of Pierre Hardy sneakers made just for the tour. “The whole thing is very Thug Life Tupac mixed with nineties candy raver,” Ottenberg explained. Forget the music (well no, don’t—it’s pretty great). Rihanna’s tour is a sartorial odyssey not to be missed.
Click for a slideshow of performance snaps and exclusive sketches by Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, Dior’s Raf Simons, Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz, and Adam Selman.
Designers design. Photographers photograph. Models model. That much—in broad strokes, at least—is clear. But what about the artists, technicians, and industry insiders, often unpublicized and underappreciated, who help to get clothes and accessories made and shown? Call them Behind-the-Scenesters: people who shape our experience of fashion but never take a bow on the catwalk or strike a pose for the camera. Without them—from patternmakers to production designers—the show wouldn’t go on. And in our recurring series, Style.com sits down with a few of these pros to find out, basically, what they do.
“Style,” as Jean Cocteau said, “is a simple way of saying complicated things.” And so it might be said that stylist Mel Ottenberg’s job is to find that simple way of saying something complicated. A button undone, a cuff rolled just so, the particular way a particular belt is slung over a particular dress: A good stylist makes these kinds of choices seem inevitable, and uses them to impart heaps of information about fashion, about the vibe on the street and the mood of the nation, and about how to look, now. “You’re kind of a medium,” explains Ottenberg, who is, among many other gigs, the fashion editor for Purple and the stylist for Adam Kimmel and Opening Ceremony (below). “You’re doing your own appropriation of this ‘thing,’ that’s how you bring the style into it. That’s hard to talk about, and it’s pretty much subliminal,” he adds. “I don’t want the style to be noticed, per se. I just want the kid who’s reading the magazine to think, wow, that looks great.” Here, Ottenberg talks to Style.com about his big break(s), his atypical days, and how a little fear can be a very good thing.
So, Mel: In one sentence, what do you do?
Well, on a good day, I’m the glue that holds everything together. Let’s say I’m on a shoot: I get the hair and the makeup going, I get the clothes together, looking right, and I’m there the whole way working with the photographer and the model. There’s a ton of collaboration involved. But fundamentally, I’m there to help make it work. Keep things going, keep things on point.
How did you get into styling?
Growing up, I was super, super-obsessed with fashion. I’d pick up copies of Vogue and Interview and pore over every word. And I started going to clubs at a young age, too, so I began dressing up and seeing fashion and glamour from that angle. Then, after I graduated from RISD, I moved to New York City and started working for some designers. The thing was, as much as I loved design and respected the process of putting a collection together, I didn’t like being hunkered down creating one thing for six months. And I tended to see images more than clothing, if that makes sense. But I wasn’t sure what to do with that until, completely by chance, I was asked to style a friend for The Face.
Denim label Rock & Republic returns to Paris tonight, staging its now signature blowout at the Hôtel de Crillon. This season, however, R&R is blowing out multimedia-style. Alongside the Spring 2010 collection, the brand will be screening the first in what CEO and creative director Michael Ball envisions as a series of films documenting Rock & Republic mood and/or modus operandi. Style.com has a sneak preview of the video, which was directed by rising-star photog Paola Kudacki and styled by Mel Ottenberg, and sets up models Charlotte Carey and Stephane Olivier for an erotic pas de deux. But go ahead, click to play. It’s still SFW.
As Ball explains, the key to the video’s interpretation of Lolita lust is restraint. “I think we’ve all felt, at one time or another, a lust for the thing we can’t have,” he explains. “But the great love affairs are the ones where some patience is exercised and those lines aren’t crossed.” He adds, “At least not right away.” The concept of restraint, Ball explains, ties back to Spring’s clothes. “Charlotte was really my muse this season,” he says. “She’s young and incredibly sexy, but there’s a sweetness and naïveté to her that makes her sexiness interesting. I wanted to channel that into the clothes and go for a sexiness that’s not so overt.”