Do fashion and feminism still match? Hell yes, say the tastemakers who've guided stars from Margot Robbie to Saoirse Ronan to Octavia Spencer through the most sensitive awards season ever and are ranked by THR in this eighth annual celebration.
Every year, THR assesses the hits and misses of Hollywood's most star-studded red carpets (or black carpets, as they were at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs). The culmination of a fashion season that — for the entertainment industry — begins with the Cannes Film Festival and wraps at the Oscars, this eighth annual list ranks the town's most influential stylists. Factors considered include taste, star power of a stylist's client roster, social media impact, and relevance in the awards-season conversation and beyond.
Even as #AskHerMore morphed into #WhyWeWearBlack and feminist messaging elevated red carpet moments, let's not forget that green is still part of the mix whenever a stylist works to craft the right image for the right star and takes him or her to the next level. Margot Robbie, whose glamour guru Kate Young ranks No. 1 this year, was named Chanel's new face on Oscar Sunday (for an idea of what that could mean: Emma Stone's Louis Vuitton deal reportedly scored her up to $10 million).
"Fashion is a big business, especially in this industry," says Elizabeth Saltzman (No. 2), who dressed Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan. "It gives people escapism and a little relief — let's let it be."
WHY SHE MATTERS THR's most influential stylist, who also topped this list in 2012 and 2016, boasted 1.3 billion media impressions in 2018 for her styling during Oscar week of Robbie alone, who was named the new ambassador for Chanel the day of the show. Young dresses a roster that fronts some of the most coveted luxury labels — Gucci (Johnson, 28), Louis Vuitton (Williams, 37) and Dior (Portman, 36), which are Nos. 1, 2 and 7 of Google's most searched brands in 2017.
TOP LOOKS Young outfitted Robbie, 27, in everything from Versace butterflies to Miu Miu feathers and an embroidered white Chanel Haute Couture gown for the Oscars that took Karl Lagerfeld 550 hours to create (Robbie topped Instagram's list of Oscar stars with the most buzz). Says Young: "Our '90s supermodel theme informed the clothes, hair and makeup choices [for Margot]. I just love the bright, minimal feeling from that era."
WHY SHE MATTERS Saltzman, a former Vanity Fair fashion director, set trends with her more extreme "editorial" approach for Lady Bird nominee Ronan's looks. "It's never just about a pretty dress on a rack," says the London-based stylist, who mixed it up with a '60s-inspired Prada minidress for the Spirit Awards and pink and orange Gucci satin in Palm Springs. Says Saltzman, "I saw it on the runway and grabbed it."
TOP LOOKS Ronan, 23, graced the Oscars in Calvin Klein by Appointment with a dramatic bow back (detachable for parties). "Pink seemed iconic," says Saltzman, who also loved Ronan's "powerful" sculpted, padded-shoulder Versace at the Globes. "It was a moment that wasn't about fashion — it was about strength."
WHY SHE MATTERS The youngest Fanning sister shut down Cannes in 21 looks, including a hand-painted Vivienne Westwood unicorn gown. "We were like, 'Yes!' " says Elle of Westwood's offer to paint the dress. "It had the unicorn and my name." Adds McMillen: "It's like a museum piece. Really incredible."
TOP LOOKS Fanning, 19, channeled Grace Kelly at the Berlin Film Festival in caped Valentino Couture. "It was different for me because it was very closed up and it wasn't pastel," says Fanning, who has six upcoming films including Reed Morano's I Think We're Alone Now.
WHY SHE MATTERS Two words: Wonder Woman. Gadot was the year's biggest breakout star, gaining 13.8 million Instagram followers as her film pulled in $821 million worldwide at the box office. Stewart posted a Boomerang of the heroine, 32, flashing flat sandals under her fiery red Givenchy gown for the premiere. "I'm not complicated. I like to look a little bit sophisticated, clean, simple and elegant, and I really like to be comfortable," says Gadot, who also was one of the most tweeted-about Oscar stars in Givenchy fringe with a jaw-dropping Tiffany & Co. aquamarine necklace that had more than 1,000 diamonds. Says Stewart, "Gal is very confident, so fittings can go quick."
TOP LOOKS The actress wowed in Altuzarra's gilded warrior dress at the Justice League premiere. Says Gadot, "We had a gunmetal dress, and two days before the premiere, Elizabeth came with the golden one — it was perfect."
WHY SHE MATTERS Von Boehm consistently lands the most coveted runway pieces (Valentino, Rodarte's silver sequins in Cannes, Versace from Donatella's epic Tribute Collection) for Kidman, who delivered high-impact styles for her Big Little Lies awards sweep. The New York-based stylist commissioned a crimson Calvin Klein by Appointment pleated silk dress with $2 million worth of Harry Winston diamonds for Kidman's big win at the Emmys.
TOP LOOKS The Australian actress, 50, was the evening's best dressed in cobalt Armani Prive with a bold bow at the Oscars.
WHY SHE MATTERS Urbinati is a menswear tastemaker, putting forth such trends as rich velvet and 1970s looks, as showcased by Hammer's retro gold Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo in Palm Springs. Says Urbinati, "I used heavy bow ties, '70s colors and cuts, pinky rings and a lot of unbuttoned shirts with gold chains."
TOP LOOKS Urbinati's favorites include Hammer, 31, in Armani red velvet at the Oscars. And, in lieu of a white rose pinned to his lapel, she dressed Glover, 34, in an all-white Zegna tux at the Grammys, the ultimate nod to women's rights. "Initially, no one was clear on whether the men were supposed to participate in Time's Up," says Urbinati. "I posted about it on Instagram, stating yes, the men would be standing by the women and wearing black. The Rock commented, and the whole thing went viral."
WHY SHE MATTERS "I dressed seven people for the Oscars," says Erlanger, who styled nominee Streep, 68, in a plunging red Dior Couture dress. "We loved the bold color — it was an added bonus that it was designed by a woman" (Maria Grazia Chiuri).
TOP LOOKS The New York-based stylist wanted a "warrior-inspired" wardrobe for Nyong'o's Black Panther press, including a violet bejeweled Atelier Versace for the premiere of the billion-dollar box-office behemoth. Nyong'o, 35, captioned a photo for her 5.4 million Insta followers: "Purple Reign."
WHY SHE MATTERS While Welch's Oscar "It" girl Ruth Negga wasn't out on carpets this year, the stylist never played it safe with her other "strong, vocal, independent" clients. Welch collaborated with Ross on 2017's Comme des Garcons-themed Met Ball, where the Black-ish actress, 45, in sculptural blue, was one of a few attendees who dared to wear a Rei Kawakubo extreme look.
TOP LOOKS Welch, who topped THR's list in 2017, turned out 11 outfits for Ross' American Music Awards hosting gig: "It was an awards season in one night."
WHY SHE MATTERS The bicoastal stylist pulled off an awards-season trifecta: quirky-chic for Lady Bird director Gerwig, timeless glamour for Get Out actress Williams and fearless chameleon looks for Big Little Lies nominee Dern, 51.
TOP LOOKS Oscar nominee Gerwig, 34, brought the "wow" factor in sky blue Rosie Assoulin at the Spirit Awards. Says Ehrlich of Dern's Calvin Klein at the Oscars, "Laura's choice of white, the opposite of black, felt symbolic of the cultural shift that has already occurred and will continue to grow."
WHY THEY MATTER The duo dress Dior brand ambassador Lawrence in sexy yet feminist-minded fashions such as her metallic, rainbow-pleated gown at the Red Sparrow opening in London. Lincoln says that Lawrence's sheer Atelier Versace at the mother! London premiere was gangbusters on social, and Johnson cites Garner's arms as the inspiration for the presenter's knockout electric blue at the Oscars. Says Lincoln, "The dress had to show off her arms."
TOP LOOKS Lawrence, 27, made headlines when she stepped out in a revealing and plunging black Versace at a London photocall, while her male co-stars bundled up in the brisk cold. She snapped back at critics on a Facebook post: "This is sexist. … Everything you see me wear is my choice. And if I want to be cold THATS MY CHOICE TOO!" Boom.
WHY SHE MATTERS THR's No. 1 stylist in 2015 called on Zac Posen this year to create something simple for her powerhouse actress-producer-entrepreneur client, who helped spearhead the Time's Up movement and all-black Globes carpet. "Reese knows what she wants, and Petra brings the magic polish," Posen tells THR. Witherspoon, 41, captioned a photo of her gown on Instagram: "This year's look means so much more. Standing in solidarity. #WhyWeWearBlack."
TOP LOOKS Flannery's longtime client Stone landed a two-year Louis Vuitton deal in October rumored to be worth between $6 million and $10 million. The Battle of the Sexes actress, 29, eschewed a gown for a pink and red suit by the brand for the Oscars carpet.
WHY HE MATTERS Instagram's most followed stylist, Roach started working with Blige, 47, for her Mudbound press tour. The singer and Oscar nominee shifted her style from curvaceous sparkle to more elegant looks by Vera Wang and Cushnie et Ochs. A winged Jean-Louis Sabaji Couture dress with door-knocker David Webb earrings at the SAG Awards kept the drama levels high.
TOP LOOKS Zendaya, 21, wore a monarch butterfly dress by Moschino to The Greatest Showman premiere in Australia. "I was so inspired by the costumes and also took into account that the monarch is native to the country," says Roach. He also pulled out the stops for 49-year-old Dion's white Stephane Rolland with exaggerated shoulders at the Billboard Awards. "That one went viral. I got calls and texts from people telling me they cried [when they saw Dion]."
WHY THEY MATTER The in-demand duo are known for megawatt glamour and have a massive audience thanks to the 126.3 million-plus collective Instagram following of their superstar clients.
TOP LOOKS "We like to do the unexpected," says Zangardi, as evidenced by 21-year-old Steinfeld's purple metallic knee-high boots with a classic strapless white gown at the Grammys. Says Haenn, "Stylists are making bolder choices not only for the talent to make a statement but also for themselves."
WHY HE MATTERS Bolden keeps his roster of activist, accomplished women looking fashion-fierce while they rewrite the Hollywood rules. DuVernay's midnight Armani Prive on Oscar night showcased her sophistication, while Shahidi deftly balances couture with youthful edge. Says Shahidi, 18, of Bolden's picks, "There's never been a situation in which I felt like the dress was wearing me."
TOP LOOKS The former SoHo vintage shop owner was inspired by one of his favorite TV shows growing up, 227, for Shahidi's dramatic Ralph Lauren bow at the SAG Awards. "Jackee Harry's character wore major bows — I really wanted a modern moment of that," he says. The Grown-ish actress adds that she also loved her gold Zimmermann for the VMAs: "I felt like Athena."
WHY SHE MATTERS The Ferreira sisters juggled two Shape of Water nominees — Hawkins, 41, and Spencer, 45 — and both actresses made a splash in Armani Prive and Brandon Maxwell at the Oscars, respectively. "Sally's dress was customized to actually be wearable because the one shown on the runway was too heavy," says Nicole of Hawkins' long-sleeved crystals. Adds Wendi of Spencer's satin organza: "Octavia wanted 'Shape of Water blue or green.' "
TOP LOOKS Banks, 44, was red hot in a spangled Jeffrey Dodd dress at the Pitch Perfect 3 premiere in Hollywood. Says Wendi, "Our inspiration was a simple slip, but we still wanted it to have Elizabeth's personality — it was simple, sexy, dynamic."
WHY SHE MATTERS A mainstay whose stellar output is consistent, New York-based Fremar draws inspiration from the "incredible women" she works with: "You need to stay confident in your vision; people can give you direct feedback on social media, and they don't hold back."
TOP LOOKS Fremar remains the film fest queen, whipping up crystal and scarlet tulle Valentino for Moore, 57, in Venice and a Prada flapper gown with Chopard gems for Theron, 42, in Cannes.
WHY SHE MATTERS The L.A.-based stylist elevated Janney's style over the course of her I, Tonya Oscar run-up. She outfitted the star, 58, in a slinky Mario Dice gown with sequin cutouts (originally white, then reconfigured in black for the Globes), but Swennen was most proud of Janney's Bibhu Mohapatra gown with elaborate sleeves at the BAFTA Awards: "It exuded couture-like elegance while supporting the Time's Up movement."
TOP LOOKS Swennen dressed Janney in two winning Oscar looks — a red Reem Acra gown with Jimmy Choos and a custom Brandon Maxwell top and skirt.
WHY SHE MATTERS "Fashion is meant to contribute to the narrative. This awards season was a good indicator of that," says Walsh, who dressed Parker, 52, in Sophia Loren-esque Dolce & Gabbana with "La Dolce Vita accents" for the black Globes dress code. "We used fashion as a tool for the bigger picture."
TOP LOOKS Newton, 45, stole the show in a lilac Jason Wu gown with crystals at the Emmys.
WHY SHE MATTERS The London-based stylist keeps the Crown star looking modern. "I loved the contrast of an ultra-feminine cape against masculine trousers," says Yates, referring to Foy's custom Oscar de la Renta jumpsuit for the Emmys.
TOP LOOKS Foy, 33, dazzled in embellished Gucci at the Breathe London premiere. Yates says fans also reacted to Foy in Stella McCartney at the Globes: "Claire's suit had its own Twitter page at one point." Another crowning feat for Yates was Krieps, 34, in red Alexander McQueen lace at the Phantom Thread NYC premiere: "It was a special moment."
WHY HE MATTERS The New York-based stylist makes his debut on THR's list after working with the Stranger Things fashion darling, who was named the new face of Calvin Klein Jeans. Aptly, Phillips dressed Brown, 14, in pink Calvin Klein by Appointment sequins with Converse kicks for the SAG Awards.
TOP LOOKS The ex-assistant to Flannery (No. 11), Ehrlich (No. 9) and E!'s Brad Goreski teamed with Gurira for her Black Panther tour: "It was an honor to have a small part in such a historic moment in film. We drew inspiration from Danai's heritage and worked with African designers," including Lisa Folawiyo from Nigeria, Sindiso Khumalo from South Africa, and EDUN, which sources across Africa. The actress, 40, was gifted a striking turquoise necklace in South Africa. Says Phillips, "She wore it over a The Row dress at the Johannesburg premiere."
WHY SHE MATTERS The veteran stylist has worked with red carpet queen Jolie, 42, for the past 15 years. Rade's secret weapon? "My tailor and couture designer Laura Basci — she takes everything and makes it better."
TOP LOOKS Rade especially loved Jolie's fitted Ralph & Russo with feathers at the Critics' Choice Awards ("Classic Hollywood glamour but also totally fresh and modern"). Of the several carats worn by the First They Killed My Father director at the BAFTAs, Rade says, "Graff hadn't loaned to celebrities in probably 50 years, so that was a moment."
WHY HE MATTERS The stylist turned Insecure star Rae, 33, into one of the year's breakout fashion "It" girls — she'll host the CFDA Awards in June.
TOP LOOKS "Issa in Marc Jacobs got a big response!" says Rembert of Rae's graphic sequin dress at the NAACP Image Awards. Other hits included Malik, 25, in a dusty pink Richard James suit with a white rose lapel patch at the Grammys.
WHY SHE MATTERS It's all about Oprah. "My Golden Globes look got the biggest response, and it was more about a moment than the clothes," says Harron. Winfrey's impassioned Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech rallied the audience and 19 million viewers, with #Oprah2020 becoming one of the evening's top trending hashtags. The 64-year-old icon's off-the-shoulder Atelier Versace black velvet gown was nice, too: "It was custom-made on a very tight timeline to stand in solidarity," says Harron.
TOP LOOKS See above.
WHY SHE MATTERS The L.A.-based British stylist started working with the This Is Us star, 37, in September. For their first red carpet outing, Lovell commissioned a custom Daniela Kurrle ombre chiffon gown, and from then on it was rainbow crystals, swishy fringe and pearl-accented lace for Metz. "People really responded to Chrissy enjoying her red carpet moments," says Lovell.
TOP LOOKS Byrne, 38, hit the G'Day USA Los Angeles Black Tie Gala in an elegant Oscar de la Renta tulle frock, while Wiig, 44, donned Galvan's green hammered velvet at the Governor Awards. Up next? Hathaway, 35, will return to the red carpet for the Ocean's 8 press tour.
WHY THEY MATTER The duo help define avant garde when dressing their leading lady. The Westworld and Thor: Ragnarok star, 34, twirled her way down the Emmys carpet in Boomerang-friendly rainbow-lurex Rosie Assoulin pleats.
TOP LOOKS Thompson's "elliptical galaxy" gown by Miu Miu for the Wrinkle in Time premiere was accented with a crystal crescent moon Judith Leiber bag. "Her dress had cascading embellishments," says McDonald. In Sundance, "she wore an Altuzarra skirt with a female directors sweater that read 'Ava Greta Patty & Dee,' " says Bannerman. "It was important to Tessa to honor these women — we were proud to be a part of the process."
This story first appeared in the March 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.