Toronto: How to Do Chill-Out Chic on the Red Carpet
Top Hollywood stylists give fest fashion tips for looks that exude cool (even as unpredictable temps climb) over showstopping glam.
It's unlikely that Emma Stone will take as glamorous a turn at Toronto as she did at the 73rd Venice Film Festival, where she descended the steps of the Sala Grande in a glittering custom Atelier Versace gown for the Aug. 31 premiere of La La Land. Why? Explains Toronto-born stylist Hayley Atkin, whose clients include Carly Rae Jepsen and Beth Behrs: "While the festival has grown over the years to host so many big-name celebrities and films, a certain modesty and casualness has remained, which I think is inspired by the people of Toronto." The down-to-earth vibe infiltrates the entire fest: It's hard to imagine industry insiders trudging multiple city blocks to go from premiere to afterparty at, say, Cannes (Atkins recommends tossing flip-flops into your bag). For what works best on the Canadian carpet and beyond, top stylists share their insider tips.
Tara Swennen, who styles Kristen Stewart (at Toronto for Personal Shopper) and The Birth of a Nation's Aja Naomi King, suggests formal wear but not necessarily ball gowns for this less opulent festival. "Last year, I sent Kristen in a flowy, navy Chanel gown, and the year before, Connie Britton wore a fun printed Sachin & Babi," she recalls. "Neither was extremely dressy, but both were simply elegant." Cocktail dresses work well at Toronto, concurs Atkins, who is liking "Rodarte's fall 2016 collection — the antique-looking lace dresses are perfect for the Toronto fall vibe, with layers of fur and leather mixed in." Jeanann Williams, stylist to Kathryn Hahn and The Bleeder's Naomi Watts, adds that it's important not to fade too far into the background: "It's the kickoff to all awards season, so it's always fun to watch."
Prep for all Weather
Thunderstorms! Extreme heat! Humidity! The Toronto climate can be as unpredictable as audience receptions — temps during the 2015 fest ranged from 80 degrees Fahrenheit to as low as 50, with spurts of rain throughout — so come prepared. Williams advises packing a Burberry trench or a leather motorcycle jacket. "It's always good to have looks to layer," she says, including footwear. "For the first time, you see fall boots, which is always fun." Because the weather can be "temperamental," Swennen says she sends clients with "a few press options with layers" and "a coat or two just in case."
Test New Trends
The festival provides a good opportunity to try new looks from recent fall and resort collections without the high stakes of a fashion fail at a couture showcase like Cannes. Williams prefers edgier, less serious pieces that include pants looks and suits as well as " '70s trends and prints and maybe shades of brown." Swennen forecasts lots of color on the Toronto carpet. "I am sending a client in a vibrant orange one-shoulder gown," she allows. "Designers seem to be embracing bolder hues, and I for one am loving it."
Overall, as chic as one might be at Toronto, Atkins recommends keeping an eye on the value of the festival, which for talent, at least, is "showing the world that you are a serious actress with serious East Coast style. No frills accepted here!"
This story first appeared in the Sept. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.