Shh! A top red-carpet awards season stylist dishes on the dirty business of dressing Hollywood’s most beautiful and famous women for the Oscars.*
Everyone thinks it’s so glamorous dressing celebrities. But one thing is a total myth: that stylists get paid well. Actresses do not pay for stylists, studios do — and sometimes they don’t, but we’ll get to that later. When they do, we get paid by the day — and they don’t take into consideration prep days, tailors and assistants. We get one budget, and everything comes out of that. No one is making six grand a day, trust me. [TEXT REDACTED]
If you’re dressing someone young or beautiful — or both — you have it easy. Elle Fanning is 12, and she’s wearing couture! If your client is attractive and age 12-40, you can put her in major designers like Chanel and Lanvin. Carey Mulligan can get any dress. But if you’re dressing a nominee who’s 45 or 50 like Melissa Leo or Viola Davis for the Oscars, you’ve got your work cut out for you. They can’t wear samples, and no matter what they wear, it won’t get press. Even , [TEXT REDACTED] the girlfriend of TV’s biggest male star, they don’t want to dress. Whoever is dressing him is roped into dressing her, too.
The managers and PRs don’t understand why they can’t borrow dresses, too. Well, it’s because they won’t get press! The reason designers dress actresses is to get in the weeklies and on the blogs. Getting their name out generates sales. Designers aren’t doing it because they’re nice! You think they want to gift actresses $50,000 gowns? The actress asks to keep it because she’s going to donate it to charity, but some sell them and keep the money. Some actresses simply won’t return at all, and no designer wants to tussle with [TEXT REDACTED], who tries to keep everything. This is a moneymaking proposition for stars, and they know it.
Often we’re expected to work for free; anyone who says they don’t is lying. Why do it? If it’s an existing client, you don’t want to piss off their PR person because being friends with the PR people is how you get jobs. It’s worth it to dress a hot 22-year-old actress gratis because all the designers are throwing clothes at her, and you also get press. And having one star client can get you another one. Often, you’ll be paid to call in two dresses — and then, suddenly, a PR will ask you: “Can you get two more for two other events, but we have no budget for that? Sorry!” Then the celeb’s PR, agents and managers expect you to get them bags and jewelry for awards shows — if you don’t, you’re not hired again. [TEXT REDACTED]. You also have to get suits for the husband or boyfriend. It’s the most disgusting thing in the world. Some PRs can be so condescending.
OK, so you finally have your rack of dresses to present. Who decides which dress works? How about their mom, boyfriend, cousin, hair and makeup — a jury of millions. It depends on the actress and how insecure she is.
Do actresses get paid to wear clothes or jewelry? Sure. These days, many designers absolutely pay. Even the stylist is offered money. The jewelers, especially [TEXT REDACTED], cough up a lot. Designers like [TEXT REDACTED] and [TEXT DELETED] have always, and now the American designers such as [TEXT REDACTED] are, too — especially for the Oscars. You can see heads of PR for big designers running all over town with desperation in their eyes. They can get bonuses and promotions for the number of credits they get on the red carpet. I heard one big star had seven jewelers come to her Oscar fitting; they waited for hours, glaring at one another.
After an actress wears something on the red carpet, I say if [TEXT REDACTED] wants to gift me a handbag, then it’s OK. They know every stylist remembers who gifted them and who didn’t — and that can determine whether or not they have their client wear the designer again. So what you want to do is land a Jennifer Lawrence, a Keira Knightley, a Michelle Williams or an Anne Hathaway because all the designers are fighting over them — then you have the easiest job in the world. Otherwise, frankly, it just sucks.
* Names redacted to protect the innocent