August 23 2014

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5 posts tagged "Meritt Elliott"

Dressing for Fame: Emily Current and Meritt Elliott Talk Designing, Styling, and Making It Work


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.

Emily Current and Meritt Elliot

Emily Current and Merritt Elliot You probably know stylists Emily Current and Meritt Elliott from Current/Elliott, their namesake brand that launched a million boyfriend jeans. But before they were designers, they were stylists. And after they departed the label in 2012, Current and Elliott embarked on a journey chock-full of twists and turns that have helped them fine-tune their aesthetic. The women currently work on ad campaigns, editorials, and branded partnerships (their most recent collection for PBteen launched last week), and they even released a book dedicated to denim this past March. Counting Jessica Alba, Emma Roberts, and Mandy Moore as clients, Current and Elliott further their brand appeal with each new look they create. Here, the power pair speaks with about juggling design projects and celebrity clients, the aesthetic power of the stylist, and the challenges that come with dressing a new actress.

How did you two get into styling?
Meritt Elliott: We jumped from college into different parts of this industry. We worked for magazines and clothing companies, and we saw that the stylists had the most control in terms of being able to articulate and define a trend. It’s actually the physical part of going in and manipulating a garment or a shoe, and it just felt like the most tangible way to achieve what we wanted to see. We both love that hands-on feeling—we share that passion—and we became a team. So it was like, OK, this is the look you want us to do, and this is how we want it to be worn. We felt like stylists had the most power in that respect.

Why did you decide to try your hand at design, and what was it like going from styling to designing?
Emily Current: We were always in fittings and we were always kind of coming up empty when it came to relaxed bottoms and chilled-out denim pieces. A lot of what we were pulling at the time was really dressy. I think our transition into design was organic and it came out of styling—it came out of doing fittings and realizing that there was a hole in the market and that we had the ability to fill it.

As stylists, do you think it’s important to have your own recognizable aesthetic?
ME: It’s inevitable that you develop your own signature when you’re a stylist. I think it’s fifty-fifty—you have to read off of what the client needs or wants or what they’re aiming for, but I also think you have to bring a point of view, and that’s why you’re hired for a job. You’re not there purely to execute, but to bring an opinion. Over the past decade and a half, we’ve learned that it’s important to have an opinion, to speak up, to stand for something.

EC: I do think, though, that we really pride ourselves on sociologically diving into clients and figuring out who they are, who they want to be, and how to express their personalities through what they wear. So while our point of view and aesthetic is really important, it’s more about us being able to translate it through their needs.

Is it difficult catering to varying clients’ needs?
ME: I think, organizationally, it makes us understand a little bit more the full gamut of different needs, different designers, and different proportions. But that makes us better designers and better stylists, not being so one-sided. We love working with women with all different body types, needs, insecurities, and things they like to show off.

EC: We look at each client when we’re prepping for a fitting, and we sit there and put ourselves in their position, like this is a movie we’re promoting, it’s a sexier role, it’s a racier role, and then we look at what they have just worn and what they need to balance that out. We try and get into their headspace and what they need, and it’s always something different.

Do you ever feel a sense of pressure from critics, press, or fans?
ME: We’re not totally naive to the constant commentary going on and people having an opinion on best dressed and worst dressed, but I think we’ve evolved, and at this point in our lives, we care less. The good news is that the clients we work with don’t care that much either, and we love that about our client roster. We love that our brand philosophy is that there are no rules, and whether someone likes it or not doesn’t define whether it’s cool, new, or right for the moment.

Do you find your own partnerships and ventures detract from your styling or does it enhance what you’re doing?
ME: Schedule-wise, it’s hard to juggle. We have an amazing team that helps us. I think that they all hold hands, that we spend more time running all of these projects through our brand filter than anything else, and that exercise has helped us define who we are so much that now it’s easy and it’s much less of a discussion. It’s become such a joy whether we’re writing a book or designing a lamp or a pair of jeans. We now know exactly who our girl is and how [our product] needs to look and feel.

EC: I do think we split our brain into two sections. One is our own design projects, and everything goes through our brand filtering of what our point of view on design is. Then there’s a whole other side of our brain that we use for styling clients and consulting projects, where we go in and wear their hat and think, What does this brand need to build out a stronger business? or What does this client need to evolve within the fashion they’re wearing? So it’s two different hats that we wear.

What are some of the challenges that come along with being stylists?
EC: There are so many, but the one that comes to mind is when you take on a new client who is somewhat less well known, it’s a challenge to build their relationships with designers. When you’re working with someone new, it’s harder to pull the top designers and really vary who they’re wearing and how they’re wearing it.

ME: Along the same line are resources matching expectations. Sometimes a client will want something, whether it’s an advertising client or a celebrity client, and perhaps there isn’t the time or the budget or the availability. You’ve got to work with what you have. Sometimes we have a very narrow amount of resources, and we’re still expected to deliver, so we’re always challenging ourselves on how to be resourceful.

Photo: Getty Images

Emily Current and Meritt Elliott Set Out to Tell Their Denim Story


current elliott “We fancy ourselves storytellers in everything we do—that’s how we approach styling and designing,” Meritt Elliott says of what informs her and partner Emily Current’s work. The L.A.-based duo, formerly of Current/Elliott and now stylists to Mandy Moore, Emma Roberts, and Jessica Alba, among others, have put their fashion tales into print with their latest venture, A Denim Story: Inspirations From Bellbottoms to Boyfriends.

With a curated collection of images, A Denim Story categorizes and classifies denim, from overalls to American Summer styles, workwear shapes to the most loved, lived-in pairs. And since the team first bonded in college over their love of vintage Levi’s 646s, the book shies away from expected imagery of sexed-up models in tight jeans. Instead, it pays careful attention to pairs that feel timeless and slightly androgynous. “We definitely always gravitate toward the idea of a boy’s jean on a girl, something that’s a bit awkward—something from your dad’s closet or your boyfriend’s jeans,” said Current, whose original boyfriend jean helped to launch the still-strong trend. Along with photographer Hilary Walsh, Current and Elliott focus on imagery that highlights this sentiment, drawing aesthetic inspiration from masculine silhouettes, the Dust Bowl era, and the children’s series The Boxcar Children.

Inevitably informed by their successful design past, not to mention their close proximity to denim manufacturing in downtown L.A., Current and Elliott assert that their take on denim is unique. “In many ways, since we come from a design background, the book is our inspiration board—it’s the things that have inspired us in different chapters,” Current explained. “We love our sensibility to be dressed up sometimes, too,” Elliott says of their now signature look that’s equal parts fantasy and quintessential Americana. It’s that effortlessness that defines them, and their never-ending love affair with denim.

A Denim Story: Inspirations From Bellbottoms to Boyfriends will be available from Rizzoli starting March 18.

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Current and Elliott Bring It Home


Emily & Meritt for PBteen

“We are very visual people and believe that your space can be a study of your personal style and an outlet for your creativity—it’s just like fashion,” explained Meritt Elliott, one half of a Hollywood styling powerhouse alongside partner Emily Current (yes, they’re the same Meritt Elliott and Emily Current known for denim range Current/Elliott, but they left the company in 2012). The duo, who were recently inducted into the CFDA, have brought their carefully crafted aesthetic to a special collection with PBteen, launching today. As is their trademark, classic pieces are reimagined with a touch of playfulness and hints of femininity: a clothing rack is given an antique feel, an occasional table is redefined as a wood stump, a side table feels vintage in linen, bedding is updated with metallic embellishments, and a chaise lounge is made modern with denim upholstery. “We relied on our favorite fabrications, colors, and small irreverent references that celebrate personal style and something warmly familiar,” Current said of replicating their world, filled with style, thoughtfulness, and charm. The designers sent us an exclusive sketch of the range (below), as well as a snap of the finished product (above).

Emily & Meritt for PBteen Sketch

Though they’ve made their mark in fashion, Current and Elliott’s PBteen collaboration was a seamless extension of their overall creative vision. “Interior design and styling and fashion design are actually very similar,” Current said of their ability to cross over. “We rely on a balance of proportion, a need for a high-low, irony, and the juxtaposition of masculine and feminine.” The formula has proved fruitful for the pair, who now count Jessica Alba, Emma Roberts, Mandy Moore, and Sophia Bush as clients. And the team reiterated that they’re not done with denim yet. “We are never done with denim! It’s who we are,” Current offered. And denim or not, they promise a future in design that’s confident. “And big!” Elliott added.

Emily & Meritt for PBteen is available from today at PBteen stores. Prices range from $29 to $799.

Photos: Courtesy of Emily & Meritt for PBteen

Surfer, Skater, Chola, Star


For many in fashion, L.A. is a full coast away from where the real action is. “Style in L.A. is sort of an oxymoron,” admits former L.A. Times writer and journalist Melissa Magsaysay. “It’s jeans and it’s T-shirts. But what’s wrong with that?” In hopes of changing the conversation surrounding style in the City of Angels, Magsaysay penned City of Style: Exploring Los Angeles Fashion, from Bohemian to Rock.

While following the contemporary market in L.A., the author realized that mass market brands were referencing L.A.’s ease and attitude as inspiration—without necessarily wanting to admit it. “No one will acknowledge it because it’s not Dior and Vuitton. But to me, it doesn’t have to be those labels and brands to be stylish, per se.” City of Style combines street-style photography with interviews with some of the city’s reigning tastemakers, ranging from Monique Lhuillier and Trina Turk to Phillip Lim and even Slash. Magsaysay makes the case for L.A.’s own native style archetypes, which need no reference to Paris prêt-à-porter or New York cool: its skaters, surfers, rockers, cholas, bohemians, and glamour-pusses of the old Hollywood screen-star mold. “They’re not trends but actual looks that came about from subcultures, music, and counterculture—what I think are inherent and totally unique to the city,” she says. They hint at an L.A. beyond the old jeans-and-tees cliches, and according to stylist/designers (and City of Style subjects) Emily Current and Meritt Elliott, they may prove more influential than many yet admit—even outside city limits. “In the past decade, L.A. has really come into its own in having a distinctive and relevant fashion sensibility,” the duo tells

City of Style: Exploring Los Angeles Fashion, from Bohemian to Rock is available at Barnes and Noble May 22.

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Westward Bound


L.A.-based stylists Emily Current and Meritt Elliott are responsible for dressing some of Hollywood’s most on-the-rise stars—their client Emma Roberts in particular has been turning heads lately—but it’s really the notion of East meets West that has them busy these days.

“We were inspired by the notion of adventure and the idea of Kate Spade New York, an iconic East Coast brand, traveling westward,” Current said, referencing the unlikely compatibility of the pair’s whimsical, more casual Americana aesthetic (demonstrated in the Current/Elliott line they also design) with the New York mainstay’s playful yet ladylike charm. Hence the name of the capsule collection: Westward.

The duo’s West Coast girl isn’t a by-the-pool lounger, though. “We kept in mind the ideal shapes, sizes, and elements that suit a stylish, working girl,” Meritt echoed of the bags that range from oversized clutches with a hidden cross-body strap to their “2nd” bag, big enough to fit your laptop and a second pair of shoes. Working closely with Kate Spade’s creative director Deborah Lloyd, they conspired to provide the perfect antidote to the woman who never knows where her day will take her. Judging by the new ad campaign, debuting exclusively here, wherever she’s off to, she’ll be scaling new heights.

The collection launches this August at Kate Spade stores, Bloomingdale’s, and online. In celebration of the collaboration, Kate Spade New York has made a generous donation to the Phase One Foundation, an organization that supports cancer research and awareness. It’s a cause that’s sadly close to home: Elliott’s husband passed away nearly two years ago from brain cancer.

Photo: Courtesy of Kate Spade New York