Are Stylists The Most Powerful Women In Hollywood?
3:30 pm, March 15th | by Meredith Lepore
The Hollywood Reporter just put out its third annual 25 Most Powerful Stylists list and it is fair to say that women ruled the roost (though we do love us some Brad Goreski and Joseph Cassell who helps out Taylor Swift.) The women who made the list included top dog Leslie Fremar, Petra Flannery (Zoe Saldana’s stylist), Tara Swennan (Kaley Cuoco), Kate Young (Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz) and of course, Rachel Zoe (even though she is responsible for Anne Hathaway’s pink concoction and therefore #LesNipplerables.) I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t a stylist just put an outfit together on a really hot, good-looking person and then take the credit for it? Though that’s what it looks like Rachel is doing a lot of the time, it is actually so much more. In fact stylists may be one of the most powerful groups in Hollywood and it is great that women are dominating.
It is stylists that push an actress’s career to the next level by landing them a magazine cover, dressing them in an iconic look at a huge event like the Oscars and landing them a beauty or fashion contract. Is it safe to say that stylists are as important and powerful as agents in an actress’s career? “The most creative stylists,” says Mitch Grossbach, who heads up CAA’s new fashion division, “are those who can impact a designer’s business with just one look.”
“There’s no bigger or more ruthless meritocracy than a red carpet. Looks are instantly tweeted, Instagrammed, Pinterested, Facebooked and blogged as fashion cops and critics millions strong render their verdict on a star’s — and by extension, her stylist’s — choices. Having insinuated themselves into the national conversation, stylists also have become increasingly valued for their impact on a movie’s bottom line.
These fashion forces work hard for the recognition, with a perfectionism and preparedness that isn’t always visible on the red carpet (and that’s the point). This year’s No. 1, Leslie Fremar, travels twice a month from her home in New York to Los Angeles for her clients. “I’m a little controlling,” she confesses.”
What’s interesting is the stylist industry didn’t really exist until the early 2000s and the term didn’t even come about til the mid-1990s. There was no such thing as a Rachel Zoe. Most actresses relied on their (gasp!) own fashion judgement (and that is how the infamous Sharon Stone Gap turtleneck debacle happened.) According to Forbes’ Leah Bourne, early power players included Jessica Paster, who wowed the world with Kim Basinger’s Escada gown in 1998, and Bloch and then Rachel Zoe by the mid-2000s.
What’s really great is these stylists are leveraging their careers in major ways. Nearly half of the stylists on THR’s list have their own clothing or jewelry lines. Kate Young has a collection at Target debuting in April. Brad Goreski got a TV show and of course, look at Zoe who now runs a fashion empire. Los Angeles Times fashion critic Booth Moore put it correctly when she called Zoe’s career trajectory impressive. “Going from no-name stylist to red carpet tastemaker, earning $6,000 a day, with clients including Cameron Diaz, Eva Mendes and Demi Moore. The next step was full-fledged celebritydom, with a Bravo reality show, QVC line and, now, a fashion collection.”
“Stylists sell the idea that if a consumer buys the product, they become their client,” says Kent Belden, CEO of styling agency MMA. “Although we think it’s the celeb who makes the best-dressed list, it is really the stylist — and without almost any hesitation, their next big deal is being proposed.” So every time you buy something because you saw a celebrity wearing it don’t give credit to Mila Kunis, give it to her stylist!