4 Hollywood Tailors If You Need to Whip Up a Dress Fast

10:00 AM 2/22/2019

by Tanya Dukes

Michelle Obama, Brie Larson and Oprah call on these wardrobe wizards for last-minute fixes.

Bradley Cooper (with Irina Shayk)
Bradley Cooper (with Irina Shayk)
Daniele Venturelli/WireImage

In the last hours before the Golden Globes, Bradley Cooper (with Irina Shayk) thought he had settled on a suit — then he tried on an alternate option and fell in love. Could the new contender be tailored in time? It could — though the Star Is Born director-star ended up sticking to his original pick. But as any red carpet regular knows, whether adapting runway looks for stars or crafting a gown from start to finish, a tailor's strategic nips and tucks can secure a client's place on a best-dressed list and ensure against wardrobe malfunctions — especially in an HDTV age where no hemline goes unnoticed.

These are the top four pros that Hollywood is calling for the tightest close-ups.

  • Mario Gonzales

    Mario's Tailoring & Fine Alterations

    COUTURE CRED

    The godfather of Hollywood tailoring, Gonzales has an appointment book packed with nominees: Olivia Colman, Glenn Close — plus he handled fittings for the second-skin Michael Kors Nicole Kidman wore to the Globes. “She’s a regular client,” he says offhandedly. He fine-tuned Colin Firth’s suits in Tom Ford’s A Single Man. Clients: George Clooney, Bryan Lourd, Amy Adams

    RED CARPET RESCUE

    He tailored Charlize Theron’s 2004 Gucci gown and Frances McDormand’s 2018 Valentino for the Oscars. The first time Reese Witherspoon was nominated for (and subsequently won) an Academy Award, she had her heart set on wearing a vintage beaded Dior gown from 1955 she discovered in Paris. Gonzalez was the man she called for final tweaks to ensure the dress would be camera-ready, even after a half-century.

  • Wendi Williams-Stern

    Studio Unbiased

    COUTURE CRED

    Timothée Chalamet, in his white-on-white Berluti tux, and Helen Mirren, in minimalist Reem Acra, each had multiple fittings with Williams-Stern before the 2018 Oscars. She also regularly attends to the wardrobes of Oprah Winfrey, Laura Dern, Regina King and Mandy Moore, and even produced some wardrobe prototypes for Black Panther. In a past life she was a member of '90s R&B group For Real. Once the music stopped, her sewing hobby morphed into a new career, the Los Angeles tailoring atelier Studio Unbiased. 

    RED CARPET RESCUE

    Williams-Stern is totally unflappable: “Almost everything is last-minute. That’s just how it goes.” When one of her Oscar-presenting clients was dissatisfied with the options a designer created, “her stylist asked if I could collaborate on a dress design and make it in one week,” says Williams-Stern. Her response? “Done!”

  • Isa Kriegeskotte

    Isa Stitches

    COUTURE CRED

    Kriegeskotte’s skills are a secret weapon whispered about among red carpet stylists like Erin Walsh and Kate Young. The tailor helps Thandie Newton and Dakota Johnson prep for appearances, and when Givenchy’s Paris atelier needs a hand in L.A., Kriegeskotte gets the call. How does she account for the loyalty her work instills? “I have great respect for the clothes,” explains Kriegeskotte.

    RED CARPET RESCUE

    Gabrielle Union was a vision in sequins and blush silk at last year’s Vanity Fair Oscar party, but it was a race against the clock. Kriegeskotte set up shop in the actress’ house the morning of the event alongside her stylist Thomas Kikis to fit and refit the delicate Prada dress after major alterations — streamlining the silhouette, extending the corset and adjusting the hemline — with no time to spare. At the Grammys, she says, “Beck saw me packing up my sewing machine and asked me to tie his bow tie. I happily obliged.”

  • Christy Rilling

    Christy Rilling Studio

    COUTURE CRED

    Michelle Obama’s fashion-icon status owes a little to Rilling (whose atelier is often commissioned by VIP clients for gowns, pj’s and Halloween costumes). She’s made adjustments to everything from J. Crew skirts to the headline-grabbing yellow Balenciaga number the former first lady wore during her recent book tour.

    Since 2010, “We’ve worked on almost every look in some capacity,” says Rilling, who has also done tailoring for Vogue since 2007.

    RED CARPET RESCUE

    Rilling and a few members of her nine-person team host a pop-up atelier in WeHo to handle scheduled fittings and last-minute fixes for the Oscars. A late wardrobe switch meant she began heavy reconstruction on the dress Brie Larson wore to the 2017 Vanity Fair party just as the star left for the Dolby Theatre. A few hours later, Larson returned to her hotel for her perfectly fitted gown.

    A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.