Hollywood Stylist Cristina Ehrlich Co-Launches T-Shirt Brand, Teases "Bright Color" at Emmys

Courtesy of Plays Well With Others
Fashion designer Cheyann Benedict and stylist Cristina Ehrlich.

Ehrlich and L.A. fashion designer Cheyann Benedict debut the label Plays Well With Others, which they plan to grow into an "all-encompassing [fashion] brand."

Bicoastal Hollywood stylist Cristina Ehrlich counts four Emmy nominees — Mandy Moore (lead drama actress for This Is Us), Natasha Lyonne (lead comedy actress for Russian Doll), Betty Gilpin (supporting comedy actress for Glow) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (lead comedy actress for Veep) — among her stellar client list that also includes Greta Gerwig, Tina Fey, Laura Dern, Andie MacDowell and others. The 20-plus-year styling veteran is now applying some of her insights to a fashion business of her own.

Ehrlich has teamed up with Cheyann Benedict, the L.A.-based fashion designer and founder of the C & C California T-shirt-focused line (since sold to Liz Claiborne) on a new T-shirt brand called Plays Well With Others. The collection of 14 women’s and unisex T-shirts in 17 colors and a wide range of seasonal, classic and fashion styles ($110 to $155) will launch online on Oct. 16, with a men’s collection set to drop before the end of the year.

Everything is made in L.A. The fabric is milled at a 100 percent sustainable facility and all packaging is also sustainable and biodegradable with eco-friendly labeling. Also in the works is a charitable component with a percentage of proceeds donated to non-profits.

"For us, Plays Well with Others means a whole bunch of things," Benedict told The Hollywood Reporter. "First, a great T-shirt plays well with every other thing in your wardrobe. But Plays Well With Others is also a social statement. We are both huge champions of equality for all human beings and this term means there’s a consciousness on all levels to treat everyone around you in a well-wishing way, with kindness and respect, [and that extends to] animals and our environment. Plays Well with Others, for us, is a mantra of how we approach existing as human beings as a whole."

The concept came about at a dinner party in fall 2017, where Benedict approached Ehrlich with the idea. "It’s been a dream for me to figure out what my legacy is and what I can bring to the forefront as a product or offering, having spent my life devoted to listening to women, dressing women, hearing what they like and don’t like, and what they’re looking for," Ehrlich told THR, adding that her experience partnered well with Benedict’s background of "understanding all the technical precision that goes into making the perfect T-shirt."

Benedict says, "Even though there are lots of T-shirt lines out there, every single person we knew was like, ‘I can’t find the right T-shirt!’ So we recognized right away that there was a hole in the market. … We’re not looking to be a laid-back California T-shirt [brand]. We want to offer the world T-shirts that can go with every aspect of their wardrobe. This mature way of thinking about a T-shirt was a fun conversation to have with Cristina because of her sense of style and being able to pair things in a way that is innately elevated, which is so important to the DNA of our brand."

The foundation of a perfect tank top or T-shirt is a pivotal piece at all of Ehrlich’s fittings: "In my offices in L.A. and New York, every single day during fittings, we are looking for the perfect ‘under’ to pair with great slacks, a skirt, a suit, maybe a ballgown skirt. So I feel like, starting with the T-shirts, we’re just getting our rhythm going," she says.

The vision spans well beyond T-shirts, with more categories coming soon. Ehrlich teased that the plan is to create "an all-encompassing brand," referencing her former clients Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who launched their successful fashion company The Row with T-shirts. "They started with the basics of T-shirts because it’s a great way to start a conversation about your aesthetic and sensibility, what kind of [fabric] hands you’re drawn to, how things drape and fit, understanding people who like to tuck and not tuck, who want a rib or a jersey, a crewneck or a three-quarter sleeve. It’s such a huge conversation!" As for what those categories will be, Benedict simply says that they will add items that "pair really perfectly with the T-shirt." So the possibilities are endless. 

The stylist says that her journey with Benedict has pushed her from a previous predilection for white, light pink and black into more colorful realms, such as bright yellow and purple, both for herself and her clients "as an energy and brightness that I feel is very needed right now out in the world." Benedict agrees that "color subconsciously affects our emotionality; our mood, our desire our motivation, so an array of vibrant hues is key to the brand’s signature."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ehrlich’s client Mandy Moore wore one of the tank tops in her latest music video, released Tuesday, for her first song in more than a decade, "When I Wasn’t Watching." As for red carpet appearances, Ehrlich says: I’ve got some very big dreams and goals for the red carpet as it pertains to the T-shirt line." She continued, "I feel like since the Time’s Up #MeToo movement, there’s been a freer conversation about women really dressing how they want to dress for themselves, especially on the red carpet, away from a generic cliché of, ‘You have to wear a plunging neckline; you have to do this or that.’ Women and men and [those identifying as] non-binary really dressing in a way to express themselves."

While the tees aren’t likely to make an appearance at the Emmys on Sunday, due to timing, Ehrlich teased that the custom dresses her four nominee clients are wearing will be notable for their "fun, exciting bright color," adding that they are "all very happy, very celebratory … It’s going to be a very bright and a very happy Sunday!"