The serious business of the stylist.

 Do you remember which film won best screenplay at this year’s Academy Awards? I’m guessing you forgot that it was Django Unchained.  But you probably remember Jenifer Lawrence’s impeccable strapless Dior gown and Charlize Theron’s stylish glittering number?

This beckons the age of the celebrity stylist, a period in fashion that is slowly but surely revolutionizing today’s fashion and celebrity culture.

I personally believe that if someone has a stylist it illustrates a lack of self-confidence. Knowing that someone has a stylist often makes me like them less because I believe that it demonstrates that they do not fulfil the fundamental purpose of fashion, which is to adopt an individual style identity.  However, having said that, there is no denying that the role of a stylist has certainly grown into a powerful, success-driven aspect of Hollywood and fashion at large.

A stylist… Powerful?  

Yes. Perhaps not as powerful as the CEO of Apple or the exceedingly wealthy owner of Harrods; but certainly powerful in the world of fashion and in the lives of professional actors and actresses. Stylists tend to have a ripple effect on the masses of people who studiously follow the “hot trends” of today and who are constantly analysing the lives of the rich and famous.  We all remember the obsessive trend of big sunglasses that made you look like a bee (I am embarrassingly guilty of this) for which we have Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie to thank. This just goes to show; society’s notion of perfection is significantly linked to celebrities and this is why we copy their fashion because we essentially want to have a piece of their flawlessness.

I recently spoke to Adele Schmits who is a freelance stylist at the International Trend Institute (ITI) and she believes that this is because of society’s obsession with consumerism and image. “We are all striving for perfection and acceptance through looking good is a way for people to achieve a certain level of this idealised perfection”. This summons the stylist.

                        A stylist can not only get a magazine cover, win their client fashion and beauty contracts but even has the power to impact an actor’s next movie role. The truth of the matter is that a stylist has the power to catapult their client to superior fame. Nicole Richie, Cara Delevigne , Gwyneth Paltrow  and even Lady Gaga are examples of this. Would we even recognize Victoria Beckham today if it wasn’t for Gabrielle Teare’s ability to transform her into a consistent member of the best-dressed lists of fashion? I doubt it.

Elizabeth Salzman is a stylist that is a particular favourite of mine because of her extraordinary transformation of Gwyneth Paltrow. In her early acting days, Paltrow was seen as demure and often missing the mark – with her innocent mousy hair and minimalist yet eccentric outfits (e.g. her netted outfit she wore to the Kids Choice Awards in 2002). She has since been renovated into woman that girls want to be and guys want to have.

In an industry of ‘try-hards’, I think Paltrow is arguably the best dressed celebrity because her red-carpet looks are consistently perfect. Examples of her immaculate fashion choices include the  ivory Tom Ford cap-sleeve dress with matching cape which she wore to the 2012 Oscars; the exquisite Prada low back silk dress with the large bow which she wore to the Contagion premier in Venice and last but not least her metallic Calvin Klein ensemble for the 2011 Oscars.  Since Paltrow’s fashion “revamp” with Salzman, she has not only established herself in the front row of every pristine fashion show, but has also had a career comeback – staring in box-office hits such as Iron Man, small-screen favourites such as Glee and even had the lead role in the country musical Country Strong. Paltrow is an example of how powerful a stylist can be and also how looking good in Hollywood can actually make you a star in your own right.  This is awfully shallow but terrifyingly true.

Arguably the most well-known and powerful stylist in the world is Rachel Zoe. She has built herself a fashion empire through crafting her own fashion line, TV show and even a distinct style of her own. She has turned once forgotten Hollywood figures such as Lindsay Lohan, Mischa Barton and Nicole Richie into the most-photographed women on earth by marshalling not just what they sported on the covers of magazines, but also what they wore whenever they left the house or brushed their teeth.   This is perhaps a result of how our vision of fashion has been refracted over the years through the domination of fame in fashion circles world-wide.

Not only has Zoe constructed a unique style of her own (unstructured glamour combined with a loose beach twist – and let’s not forget the tons of jewellery that she makes her unfortunate customers wear), but she has extended the responsibility of stylists.  Zoe’s the co-author of the New York Bestseller, “Style A to Zoe: The Art of Fashion, Beauty and Everything Glamour” and founder of the free daily newspaper, “the Zoe Report”.

It is reported that Zoe is even consulted by several designers before their collections are designed. She is the reason why stylists are no longer in the background, but celebrated on TV shows and magazines.  

So you thought a stylist was just a person with good taste? Think again.

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