The 25 Most Powerful Stylists in Hollywood

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A-list clients, red-carpet hits (and misses) and profitable gigs such as TV hosting, book deals, commercials all factor in to who makes the list and how high they rank.

Agents, managers and publicists don’t hold all the power when it comes to A-list clients. Hollywood’s red-carpet stylists have the potential to make or break an actress’ career based on their dress decisions — just look at what stylist Petra Flannery (No. 3) did for the reputation of previously unknown nominee Hailee Steinfeld! The 14-year-old landed on every best-dressed list thanks to well-edited Prada and Marchesa looks. On the flipside, Michelle Williams’ not-so-whimsical Valentino daisies at the Globes were met with a deafening outcry of  “Who put her in that?!” Stylist Leith Clark (No. 11) knew she had to redeem herself when Williams stepped out on Oscar night — a flawless Chanel couture column did the job. Stylists also have the ability to set fashion trends (No. 1 stylist Rachel Zoe created the “boho chic” craze) and the clout to decide which designers and jewelers get mass exposure. The most important thing when styling is to master the balance of what’s pleasing to TV viewers while providing a look that’s forward-thinking enough for fashion critics. That’s what landed these 25 stylists on THR’s first-ever Most Powerful Stylists list.

1. Rachel Zoe
An A-list client roster, the Bravo reality show, multiple designing and fashion consulting deals and a best-selling book make Zoe the most powerful stylist in Hollywood.

2. Kate Young
The NYC-based stylist is responsible for Natalie Portman’s acclaimed looks — it’s challenging enough to turn out multiple stunning styles for the It girl but even more impressive when it’s maternity chic. Runway designers Viktor & Rolf, Rodarte and Azzaro all created custom styles for the Oscar winner. Young, who started her career at Vogue, also works with R&B singer Alicia Keys.

3. Petra Flannery
Flannery’s best-dressed clients include Emma Stone (winning looks: Calvin Klein at the Globes and Chanel at Vanity Fair’s fete), Hailee Steinfeld, Mila Kunis (winning looks: lavender Elie Saab at the Oscars and Alexander McQueen at the SAGs) and Zoe Saldana. Before making Steinfeld a red-carpet one-to-watch, Flannery created Saldana’s elegant, avant garde style during last year’s Avatar awards campaign, including the daring lavender Givenchy Haute Couture she wore on Oscar Night 2010.

What’s your best red-carpet moment?

Zoe Saldana in Givenchy Haute Couture at  the 2010 Oscars.

What makes a great Oscar dress?

Mixing the high fashion with appropriateness of the event while maintaining a sophisticated and larger-than-life moment.

How do you make and maintain great relationships with major fashion designers?

By making an effort to meet them personally. It’s important to stay in contact with them as you would in any business relationship.

Do you know a great dress for a client when you see it on the runway?

It always requires the process of going through hundreds of looks to find the right ones. I did “just know” regarding Zoe Saldana’s Givenchy dress for the Oscars. It was the perfect dress for her on the runway and in person.

When dressing multiple nominees for an awards season — as you just did with Hailee Steinfeld, Mila Kunis and Emma Stone — how do you differentiate for your clients?

I keep them individual. It’s a juggling act, so it’s all about organization and a well-crafted team. Assistants that are up to speed on every aspect and tailors/seamstresses for each client in case of any last-minute needs.

4. Jen Rade
The dazzling emerald Atelier Versace dress that Rade put longtime client Angelina Jolie in at this year’s Globes stole the show. Rade also dresses Pink, Cher and The Office’s Jenna Fischer, plus she has such commercial styling gigs as Target and Apple’s iPod.

5. Anna Bingemann
From Emmys to Globes, Claire Danes had her most spectacular awards season ever thanks to the Armani Privé, hot-hued Calvin Klein and Louis Vuitton dresses that Bingemann handpicked for her. Bingemann also works with Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Watts and Tina Fey (who really wowed in Oscar de la Renta’s scarlet lace gown at the SAGs). She is married to actor-director Griffin Dunne.

6. Cristina Ehrlich
Ehrlich’s longtime clients Penelope Cruz (winning look: a sizzling L’Wren Scott dress that showed off the new mom’s curves at the Oscars) and The Fighter nominee Amy Adams (winning looks: Herve Leroux at the SAGs, Elie Saab at the BAFTAs and Marchesa at the Golden Globes) are both consistently chic. Julianne Hough, Kyra Sedgwick, Ashley Green and Julianna Margulies are also loyal clients.

7. Deborah Waknin
Halle Berry trusts Waknin, who has also done costume design for television, to pull together the most glamorous, sexy red-carpet styles, including her embellished Marchesa gown with Neil Lane jewels at this year’s Oscars. Sandra Bullock also attributes her memorable looks from last year’s Blind Side Oscar campaign to the veteran stylist. 

8. Elizabeth Stewart
Stewart styled newcomer nominee Jennifer Lawrence for all of this year’s awards-season events; she also outfits Cate Blanchett — the only fashion risk-taker at this year’s Oscars in Givenchy Couture. Amanda Seyfried, Kristin Davis and Viola Davis are clients too. Pre-styling, Stewart had jobs at The New York Times Magazine and W.

9. Leslie Fremar
Fremar works with some of the fashion crowd’s favorites including Reese Witherspoon, Julianne Moore (winning looks: Tom Ford at the BAFTAs and Lanvin at the Globes) and Charlize Theron. She got her start in the business as an assistant at Vogue and then as the celebrity dresser for Prada — she’s even rumored to be the inspiration for the catty co-assistant character Emily (Emily Blunt) in The Devil Wears Prada.

10  Jeanne Yang
Katie Holmes’ personal stylist (they launched the clothing line Holmes & Yang together, which sells at Barneys and Los Angeles’ Maxfield) also keeps Tom Cruise, Melissa Leo and Christian Bale well-dressed.

11. Leith Clark
The young London-based stylist has two of fashion’s It girls, Michelle Williams and Keira Knightley (in addition to styling her for the red carpet, Clark also did Knightley’s most recent ad for Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle fragrance).

What’s your best red carpet moment?

My favorite is still my first date with Keira Knightley – she wore pink Chanel Haute Couture to the Venice Film Festival opening night of Atonement.

What makes a memorable Oscar dress?

It has to make the wearer feel like they’re floating. The person wearing it has to want to float, to spin around. A dress is just a dress if there isn’t love. I want to know if I was watching, I would fall in love with them! And I want them to be so happy they don’t care if I love them or not.

How do you make and maintain great relationships with major designers?

I’m not just a celebrity stylist – I work with Keira, Michelle Williams and Emily Mortimer – but as founder/editor in chief of the U.K. magazine Lula – and a freelance fashion stylist for Italian, British, American and Teen Vogues, plus Chanel and Cacharel ads, etc. — I already have relationships with designers. I worked at British Vogue for over two years full time, that was my start.

12. Estee Stanley
Stanley glams up Jessica Biel (who most recently stepped out in Atelier Versace at the Vanity Fair party), and she’s responsible for putting Glee’s Lea Michele in all of her elegant Oscar de la Renta dresses. In addition to red-carpet styling, Stanley spends time doing editorial styling and interior design.

What’s your best red-carpet moment? 

Ever? How do you pick? I would have to say when I dressed Penelope Cruz in the blush pink Versace gown that she wore to the Oscars in 2007.

What are common mistakes one can make dressing a celebrity?

One would be not dressing age-appropriately. Lately, I feel like some of the girls look too mature for their age.

How do you make and maintain relationships with major fashion designers?

I think most of us have specific designers that we love working with over and over again. For me, I love Giambattista Valli, and Jessica Biel wears him all the time. He makes fun, fashionable, sexy clothes that always look good on her. The same goes for Lea Michele and Oscar de la Renta. It’s just a good fit. Her blue Oscar de la Renta at the 2010 SAGs was memorable.

What makes a great Oscar dress?

Color, something different than the norm. Doing something spectacular is very important. Everyone is waiting to see something great. That’s the night to do it, so do it.

13. L’Wren Scott
She’s a former model-turned-stylist-turned-full-time designer (Penelope Cruz and Amy Adams both wore her dresses to the Oscars), but she still makes the list for semi-secretly styling longtime client and friend Nicole Kidman, who donned Prada, Nina Ricci and L’Wren Scott this season. It’s rumored that Scott also helps Sarah Jessica Parker.

14. Jessica Paster
Paster persuaded Annette Bening to trade in her black pantsuits for more glamorous styles this season including a beaded Tony Ward dress at the SAGs and Marchesa at the BAFTAs. She also keeps Emily Blunt looking chic.

15. Rob Zangardi & Mariel Haenn
The styling duo works with Jennifer Lopez, Rachel McAdams, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith and Rihanna — enough said.

16. Maryam Malakpour
Malakpour puts together Heidi Klum’s red-carpet looks and Project Runway wardrobe.She also has the Rolling Stones and Courteney Cox as clients.

17. Tanya Gill
Gill glams up Hilary Swank (winning look: Gucci Premiere at the Oscars) and Jane Fonda. She also dressed Kate Winslet for several awards seasons.

18. Tiina Laakonen
Laakonen’s top client, Carey Mulligan, is the new fashion girl that every major designer wants to dress.

19. George Kotsiopoulos
Kotsiopoulos worked with Freida Pinto for her Oscar campaign and has dressed Kristen Stewart, Kerry Washington and Katy Perry. He’s also a regular on E!’s Fashion Police. Last year, he dressed Kathryn Bigelow for the Academy Awards when she won her Oscar for Best Director.

What’s your best red-carpet moment?

I dressed Freida Pinto, Dev Patel and the different ages of kids from Slumdog Millionaire for the Academy Awards. All the kids flew in from India, and it was great.

When you see a dress on a runway, how do you know what works and what a client will like?

You want what’s going to show off the body, you want good color and you have to take into account that actresses are not models and have to be dressed accordingly. I always like things that have a little unusual quality to them. I like a little whimsy.

What makes a great Oscar dress?

Something that is equally pleasing to the fashion crowd and to Middle America. You have to be fashionable and cutting edge and sexy and also consider something that the average woman will find beautiful and the guy will find desirable. Freida Pinto’s electric blue lace Dior was perfect.

20. Nicole Chavez
Chavez’s leading ladies include Scarlett Johansson (winning look: Dolce & Gabbana at the Oscars), Rachel Bilson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Katherine Heigl.

What makes a great Oscar dress?

Something that’s out of the ordinary, something unexpected: Nicole Kidman’s Dior Couture chartreuse dress from 1997. That was such an unexpected color and something that so different; it was extraordinary. It’s about taking a risk and doing something outside the box. Sometimes just a reaction in general, good or bad, is kudos. Even though Scarlett Johansson got mixed reviews this year, I didn’t mind. You have to check your ego at the door.

What are the most important things to consider when dressing a celebrity for an awards show?

The level of the client’s comfort, which translates into confidence. They have to be physically and emotionally comfortable in it.

What are common mistakes one can make dressing a celebrity?

It’s really important to me to listen to my clients and understand where they’re going, what they’re promoting. I put myself in their environment and do the research. You have to check the weather, know all the information. What kind of chair will she be sitting on? Your clients hire you to think for them — my clients are like family. To me, it’s art and not just a job.

When you see a dress on a runway, how do you know what works and what a client will like?

I always know. It’s just a feeling. It comes from really listening to your client. There is always an open dialogue with my clients about fashion and we always try to keep it moving forward.

21. Annabel Tollman
The sassy British stylist works with Jessica Simpson and Cynthia Nixon, but she is best known for having dressed Scarlett Johansson in sexy, curve-hugging dresses for several seasons.

22. Brad Goreski
Rachel Zoe’s former assistant (they parted ways in October) is a rising star in the styling world. Goreski not only landed Jessica Alba as his client (she parted ways with longtime stylist Daniel Caudill) but also got the job styling designer Kate Spade’s Fall 2011 collection.

23. June Ambrose
The NYC-based stylist, who penned the book Effortless Style, works with Diddy, Jay Z, Kelly Ripa and Mariah Carey.

24. Samantha McMillen
She dresses some of Hollywood’s most dashing men including Johnny Depp (winning look: Ralph Lauren Black Label tux at the Globes) and women like Michelle Pfeiffer.

25. Simone Harouche
Nicole Richie hired Harouche after splitting from Zoe. The stylist also dresses Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus.