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August 31 2014

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3 posts tagged "stylist"

Dressing for Fame: Kemal Harris, Stylist to Robin Wright and Idina Menzel, on Making Sure Her Clients Never Show Up Naked

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kemal-sizedIf 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.

As one part of the bicoastal styling team of Kemal & Karla, Kemal Harris brings her New York sensibility to her enviable roster of clients. Whether she’s shaping Robin Wright’s killer figure in a custom backless Ralph Lauren jumpsuit or helping Idina Menzel realize her red-carpet potential from behind that powerhouse voice, Harris has a singular aesthetic that draws on both contemporary and historical fashion. Here, she talks exclusively with Style.com about why styling as a pair keeps clients covered, how Feist changed her career, and why she’ll never be a yes-man.

How did you originally form your partnership with Karla Welch?
We met at fashion week through a mutual friend and always kept in touch. I was working with the singer Feist here in New York and connected her with Karla for her L.A. appearances, and through that connection, our bicoastal styling team was born.

What is the process like working as a duo?
Well, clients are never in one spot for very long. Their movie will premiere in L.A., and then they fly to NYC for all the press appearances. I live in NY and Karla is in L.A., so it certainly doesn’t hurt that no matter where they go, we can make sure they’re never naked.

Do you think there is a certain sensibility you’re expected to maintain as a New York-based stylist, as opposed to being in L.A.?
It’s a fact that editorial styling is much different than styling for the red carpet. They almost require different sides of the brain, and neither is easier than the other. Regardless of what medium you’re working in, I think it helps to have a very strong sense of your aesthetic, the sensibilities and requirements of your clients, and an almost preternatural grasp of how garments will photograph.

Do you think your clients expect something specific from you, and if so, what is that?
Personally, I think it’s so important for a stylist to be honest and straightforward with their clients. They’re depending on us to make sure they look their best on their big night. An effective stylist is not a yes-man.

Dressing for Fame: Penny Lovell Talks Working With Taylor Schilling, Sex and the City‘s Lasting Influence, and More

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Penny_Lovell

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.

Penny Lovell

As a self-professed vintage junkie, stylist Penny Lovell has an eye for fashion’s finer details. The London-born Lovell made her first foray into fashion with a brief stint in fashion PR before paying her dues at British Elle, a job that opened her eyes to the ins, outs, and complexities of styling. Now settled in Los Angeles, Lovell counts on both loyal clients (Rose Byrne) and those newer to her coterie (Taylor Schilling and Anne Hathaway) to keep her on her toes—and strengthen her game. With the Emmys on the horizon, Lovell found time to chat exclusively with Style.com about the second-skin relationship she cultivates with clients and why Sex and the City still matters.

Have you ever had an “I’ve made it” moment? What was it?
For me, it’s really more of a series of achievements, and there are so many of those. Like, when I met Keira Knightley on a photo shoot and she was my first celebrity client. She was very young and I was very young and had never dressed anyone, so that was a very significant moment because that’s where and why it all began for me. There are a couple things—like, I’ve always been such a fan of designers and their creativity, and to be able to collaborate with designers on things, that’s huge for me still.

When you work with a client for years, like Rose Byrne, how do you continue to keep things fresh?
I think fashion is a great thing for that because it changes all the time. What we’re working with is constantly evolving. I know her better now—I know where she’s at in her life, I can almost guess how she’s feeling about something and what she might not want to do and what she might want to do without her even telling me. You get a shorthand really. It’s a really personal relationship, it’s a second skin. With the successful relationships, you do end up having this sort of very unspoken shorthand. And then I always like to pull some things that they might like and they might not, but let’s give it a go. It’s all free, we’ll try everything on, there’s no judgment, and you never know. Some things you really would never imagine look amazing, so it’s always good to keep looking for things that are just a bit different, to try and see. You never know, and sometimes those are amazing, and quite often they are, actually.

When you get a new client, where does the work begin? Do you base their style off an existing aesthetic or create a new one?
It depends on the client. For instance, when I met Taylor [Schilling] last year—I’d never actually met her and she was coming to L.A. and she had to go to an event, so I had to do a fitting straight off the initial meeting. So, at that point you immerse yourself in them. You look at everything you can find on them and then you meet them. With her, you pull in as much as you can, and together there’s this special alchemy that happens in that moment between. It’s a collaboration, but there’s a specific alchemy between the two of you.

What inspired you to start styling?
I didn’t really know that there was such a thing when I was younger when I was thinking about my jobs. I basically used to work at a clothing store when I was 15 and people used to come every week and get outfits from me. I used to put outfits together, and I didn’t really know that was styling then. I didn’t know it was a job until later on when I hit my 20s and I was in fashion PR in the beginning. I went from being John Frieda’s PA to doing fashion PR at a fashion agency that did Burberry and Max Mara. Then I got into the world of fashion editors more, so I used to work with them and do pulls for them. Also, we used to commission photo shoots for the clients. Actually, I commissioned a big stylist in London at the time, I remember, getting her to style the shoot for Pretty Polly, which are tights in England, and it wasn’t a great shoot and we had to reshoot it. And I was telling my boss what we needed, and she’s like, “You should just do it. We’ve got clothes, you can just figure it out, right?” So I did it. From then I realized I really wanted to do this. That was all very early 20s.

What was your first real styling gig?
I worked for the fashion director of the Sunday Telegraph magazine in London, and I used to give her ideas for shoots. One day, she just said, “You should do it, you should shoot it,” and that was probably my first gig and first real published work.

What stylist has always been a source of inspiration to you and your career?
In terms of inspiration, I think Patricia Field for me. I don’t think anyone of our generation or in this business can underestimate Sex and the City‘s impact, particularly on the red carpet. It was such a playful, interesting visual. I look at it now and remember so much of it now in terms of the way those pieces were put together and how those girls’ characters were defined by the clothes in that show, and I think that has a lot of bearing on what we do.

Do you think ambassadorships and sponsorships have changed celebrity styling?
Sometimes there’s something quite interesting about one thing being set and you have to think of other things quite differently. There’s still work with the brand, there are discussions between the brand and stylists. It’s nice to work closely with a house. I quite enjoy that.

Do you find social media chatter to be helpful or distracting when working with a client? Where does “criticism” come into play?
In terms of work, it doesn’t really come into play for me. I know what’s generally going on, but I don’t specifically read it in terms of what I do for work. There are so many opinions out there, and if you listen to all of them you’ll go mad. I don’t think what I do is a popularity contest, either. I do something specific with my clients, and it’s for them to feel great and look great and photograph well, and it’s for a reason—because they’re promoting a film, attending a charity event or something—it’s not a popularity contest. I just think that if you get into that, you’re never going to win. It’s endless. Sometimes a favorite dress is another person’s awful dress. You really have to keep your parameters of what matters very clear. We’ve taken calculated risks often, we know not everyone is going to love it, but we don’t do it for that reason.

Dressing for Fame: Stylist and A.L.C. Designer Andrea Lieberman on What Women Want

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andrea-liebermanIf 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.

Andrea Lieberman is a rare breed of stylist. A success story at styling, no doubt (she put J.Lo on the map in that plunging Versace at the Grammys), Lieberman harnessed that success into A.L.C., her well-received contemporary collection that seems to set the standard of cool season after season. With one foot still delicately placed in the world of styling and one firmly planted in design, the stylist-slash-designer talks exclusively to Style.com about going through the Valentino archives, her friend Arianne Phillips, working with J.Lo, and more.

You’ve done a lot of work styling music artists. Is there anything about styling for music artists that you’ve found different from styling celebrities in general?
My background was always very much a music background. For me, I really enjoyed that collaborative effort and creating a whole image, like an art director. It was more about collaborating on their image and touring and costuming and just really creating a look to go along with the vibe of where the album was.

What compelled you to start designing?
I immersed myself at a young age growing up in New York in the world of fashion, whether it was internships to retail to helping out friends who were stylists. Arianne Phillips is a very dear friend and has always been a huge inspiration of mine. I remember when I met her when we were both young and hanging out in New York. She was one of the first people I knew who worked on music, so she was quite inspiring. In terms of when I made the decision, it was just organic for me, and it felt right at that time in my life. I had a great time styling for ten years, and it was time for me to start a family and shake things up.

Do you think your styling career has informed your design career and vice versa?
As a stylist, you understand women and their wardrobe needs. Whether it’s an artist or a more average person, how they take things from the runway and make it a reality is an interesting thing. That’s how people actually wear things, and I think that’s why there’s been so many street-style blogs. I understand the emotional connection of women getting dressed, what makes them feel good, and what they put on to say, “This makes me feel good, this is what makes me feel strong.” I think from dressing women who were not models, you understand this emotion.

You’re well known for certain looks that you dressed your clients in. Is there one that sticks out to you as your favorite red-carpet moment?
For me, there are quieter moments that might not have gotten attention like the other moments. I had access to the Valentino archives for the Oscars one year (when there was no red carpet) and dressed Jennifer Lopez in a beautiful mint green Valentino dress that [had been] worn by Jackie O. That was a majorly beautiful moment. And I worked with Fred Leighton, and we made these amazing maharaja-inspired earrings out of all platinum and diamonds.

Do you want to be remembered or regarded as a stylist or a designer? Or both?
I just want to be present. Obviously, both. Styling was a really important part of my journey, but maybe I’ll be remembered for the next thing that I do.