Inside Hollywood’s Secret Awards-Season Fashion Resource
SAG Awards host Kristen Bell stopped by Albright Fashion Library on Wednesday—and it's open to the public, too.
There is a hush-hush pro behind many key awards-season stylists: Irene Albright, who founded the encyclopedic Albright Fashion Library in New York in 1990 and launched a Los Angeles outpost in 2016 in an Insta-ready, midcentury home in Beverly Hills, complete with an inflatable-gold-swan-bedecked pool.
Each room is packed with racks of high-end designer cocktail dresses, gowns, suits, corsets, separates, shoes, bags, hats, jewelry and belts ready to loan, with the upper floor dedicated to menswear. The company buys seasonal pieces directly from designers, as a retail store does, and files them alongside archival collections and prize vintage—think one-of-a-kind Balenciaga designs by Nicolas Ghesquiere, Tom Ford-era Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, chain-mail dresses by Paco Rabanne and decades of Dolce & Gabbana corset dresses.
Albright Fashion Library is a resource for many up-and-coming stars who can’t afford a dedicated stylist and want to access the latest looks from major brands such as Gucci and Dior that often lend only to top-tier stars. “We work with these celebrities to get them to that next level where they’re really being noticed, appearing in magazines and photographed for their fashion choices,” says Tara Williams, a stylist herself and Albright Fashion Library’s creative director in Los Angeles. “Without having a service like this available to them, they just can’t get the brands.”
Popular labels being pulled this awards season include Rodarte, Alessandra Rich, Erdem, Rochas, Elie Saab and Monse. SAG Awards host Kristen Bell popped by on Wednesday with her writing wingwoman Monica Padman (who was scheduled for a fitting) to check out fashion options for Bell's big night. Other recent SAG-suggestive sightings at the library include stylists Cristina Ehrlich, Karla Welch, Ariana Weisner (for Elizabeth Chambers) and Jennifer Mazur (for Olivia Culpo).
For the Golden Globes, Albright Fashion Library was the source for the stunning Alexandre Vauthier fall 2017 black velvet dress and blue sash worn by Chambers, Vanessa Hudgens’ black-and-white Chanel gown and Ashley Tisdale’s black Balmain dress with a plunging keyhole cutout. At her Saturday Night Live performance last weekend, Halsey donned a yellow Moschino fur coat over an Alessandra Rich lingerie set (both from Albright Fashion Library, thanks to stylist Maeve Reilly, who we hear has also pulled Grammys picks). Camila Cabello and Kourtney Kardashian are also reportedly considering colorful, sparkly pieces for their Grammys outings in New York on Jan. 28.
The library is a resource for costume designers, too, and the stock in New York and L.A. frequently appears onstage and onscreen. Seventies-era pieces were pulled for Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari for Paramount Network’s American Woman, while archival Versace was provided for FX’s The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
As for hints about what actresses will wear to the SAGs, it sounds like there will be a continuation of color, as seen at the Critics' Choice Awards, but possibly in a more muted palette.
“The trend I’m seeing is this real movement back to femininity, with florals and soft, fresh colors—nudes, whites, pinks, blush, peach,” says Williams. “I’m seeing conservative, demure silhouettes. Nothing overtly sexual: no low cuts or high slits. The first question from every stylist who walks through the door is, ‘What is everyone else pulling? What’s the trend?’ So many of the celebrities I’ve dressed have said, ‘I don’t want to be that A-hole.’ They are all terrified of getting it wrong. While the SAGs are a bit of a gray area, I think Time’s Up messaging will definitely be revisited for the Oscars.”
What's more, Albright Fashion Library is open to the public. For about $1,000, an in-house stylist will give anyone the red-carpet treatment—a personal style consultation and a fitting for a head-to-toe look that is yours for five days. The goods could well include a $10,000 gown complete with shoes, a bag and jewelry—eliminating a priceless amount of stress when prepping for a gala or wedding. Select pieces (out of an in-house inventory of about 12,000 garments, according to Williams) can immediately be reserved online at albrightla.com.
Albright Fashion Library, 608 N. Alpine Drive, Beverly Hills, (424) 274-3510.