Category Archive: Interviews

Sep 01 2014

Interview: Five Minutes With LFW Designer Holly Fulton

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Holly Fulton was one of the first fashion designers I met, we chatted randomly at the London Fashion Week exhibition, I had no idea at the time that she was the designer behind the amazing collection I was raving about. Luckily she didn’t hold that fan-girl moment against me as I interviewed her at the Fashion House of Echo Falls to celebrate her collaboration with the wine brand. It was refreshing to see a down-to-earth fashion designer, she really was lovely and fun to interview.

I didn’t have long, but we chatted designing a wine bottle, I really love the Rose one, her love of architecture, the excitement of fashion week, and I couldn’t resist asking her what a Holly Fulton Barbie would look like, it is amazing and fingers crossed Mattel reads this and signs her up!!!

What was it like designing a wine collection?
Holly: “As a designer I love to do things that are outside the realm of fashion, it is quite exciting for myself to see my designs transposed onto different products. The starting point was to capture the best of what Echo Falls does and their wines with the best of Holly Fulton, so we selected three different outfits that reflected the characters of the Merlot, the white and the rose and hopefully captured the contemporary spirit of Holly Fulton. We wanted to design something that popped out on the shelf next to Echo Falls competitors as well as a sexy feel.”

Your collections are highly influenced by architecture – what is it about architecture that inspires you?
“I love things that are quite clean, strong and quite graphic, a lot of the 20s/30s architecture and skyscrapers, and even 60s/70s buildings really just catch my eye and feed into my style of drawing and graphic sensibility. I love anything that is really bold and architecture is one of the biggest, boldest statements you can get in design, so it has always been a source of inspiration to me.”

Do you have a favourite building/city?
“I’m a bit of a fan of the Empire State building, I did have a collection where it featured quite heavily for spring/summer time and we used it in our crystal work.”

LFW is fast approaching – how is everything going in the run up to your SS15 show?
“It’s exciting and terrifying, but I always try and remain calm, because if I am panicking it wouldn’t help anybody. I am quite a workaholic so I will be working incredible long hours from now until then, but that’s part of the fun of it, still even five years on from when I started the label it hasn’t lost any of its excitement for me, it is still like the day that I graduated, it is that kind of buzz that I get. My favourite moment is just before the show goes and I see the girls lined up, all made up and transformed; in that moment my adrenalin is literally popping.”

Is the music important for your catwalk shows?
“Hugely important, I will listen to those tracks time and time again in the run up to LFW, I make everyone listen to it, we will listen to the song 30 times a day, but it is really good as everyone gets really into it. If you can get the music right you are really lucky, we work with John Drury who does all the music for our shows and it is always one of the most exciting parts of a show as it really captures the mood and enhances the space.

Can you give us a hint at what we can expect from the SS15 collection?
Very different from autumn/winter 2014. We always use different techniques and styles, and we are focusing on techniques that we have never looked at before, so I am excited to see how they come out. I think this collection will be a move on for us, the cutting is quite different so the silhouettes will create a new look for us.”

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Finally, if you could have a Holly Fulton Barbie – what would you dress her in?
“My favourite outfit would have to be the first look from spring/summer 2010, that collection that I just felt like my style just totally came together. That first look was all black and white, which is still a signature for us, I even still wear that coat.

“It would be a strong Barbie, but I think she would definitely have to go brunette and represent us dark-haired ladies. Plus she would have to have all the matching accessories, of course, the statement necklace, big earrings, possible a vintage ring and she has to wear the spiked Christian Louboutin baseball boots that were on the catwalk.”

 

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Holly Fulton’s amazing Echo Falls wine collection is available in stores now, price £6.99 each. Echo falls Holly Fulton 1 Interview: Five Minutes With LFW Designer Holly Fulton %tag

**Thanks to Ashanti aka Adorn Girl for snapping my pictures while I interviewed the lovely Holly Fulton**

Jun 10 2014

Interview: Maleficent Costume Designer Anna B. Sheppard

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When you see Maleficent you will leave the cinema thinking about Angelina Jolie’s amazing cheekbones, the sweetness of Elle Fanning as Aurora, and the incredible costumes designed by  Anna B. Sheppard, who is known for her work on ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘The Pianist,’ both of which earned her Oscar nominations.

I got the chance to chat with Anna about the costumes, working with Angelina, and the difficulties of designing for an action movie like Maleficent.

Maleficent is one of the most iconic villains in cinematic history – what was it like to take on this project?

Daunting!!! We started the prep for this film 10 weeks before the first day of shoot and I met Angelina like 8 weeks before and we started from scratch. Everyone expected one costume, because everyone remembers the animated character, and we created eight. It was blood, sweat and tears, and I had a lot of help from Team Maleficent – I had my assistant costume designer Jane Clive, and lots of young designers who experimented with our costumes – like with the millinery, the shoes, with our leather elements – they helped me a lot.

The original really stays in your memory, everyone as a child has seen Sleeping Beauty and everyone remembers Maleficent, so that was the challenge of this movie to bring this animated version to life and to keep the magic in the costumes.

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What was it like working with Angelina Jolie on the Maleficent costumes?

A bad person never looked so beautiful – she looks absolutely amazing. Angelina really did give herself to this character and think people don’t realise that she is more than just being beautiful, she is also incredibly intelligent. She was 150 percent involved in the creation of the designs.

Were there any challenges involved in Maleficent’s signature costume?

It is practically creating the identical silhouette from the animated movie but the technical details were more difficult because I wanted a more sculptured silhouette, but still very slim. It is like a dress with bat-wings attached with a long train, which needed to be weighted down to make the costume behave like it should. It was made from metres of pleated black fabric and it took weeks to make – day and night. But the results were worth it.

As well as Maleficent there are a host of fabulous costumes for Aurora and Diaval – how did you perfect their look?

With Elle and Aurora, they were very innocent costumes, Aurora is the girl who lives in the forest surrounded by funny fairies, and I thought about her lines with her long hair and it made me think of Ophelia. That was my inspiration to create something like light almost; it needed to be such a contrast to Maleficent’s costume.

For Diaval I wanted him to look like a rock star. Because Raven is black so his clothes should be black, in the first concept he was suppose to be covered in feathers, but of course that didn’t work, so we didn’t have much time to dress he so we went for a cross between a pirate and a rock star – with high boots, leather trousers, frock coat, and an open black shirt.

Is there a particular sequence that you feel the costumes really shine through?

I think the christening scene is quite impressive, I love that and a lot of work went into it, because we had to create the whole ‘court’ of King Stefan and the different types of costumes is great to see.

Were there any challenges making the costumes work for the action scenes?

The last costume, the all-in-one leather costume for the fight, we had to make 25 for that sequence as they were exposed to fires, so they also needed to be fireproof. Sometimes you have to sacrifice beauty of the costume for the practicality of an action movie.

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[Pics: Courtesy of Disney & Anna's taken by me, Fashionista Barbie]

**Post in collaboration with Disney for the Maleficent hub – for more on the hub visit – maleficentmovie.tumblr.com**

May 14 2014

Maleficent: Elle Fanning In Georges Hobeika

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So I have already shared the amazing Angelina Jolie hitting the red carpet, sorry blue carpet, while promoting her new flick Maleficent, well I also got to interview the lovely and very charming Elle Fanning, aka Princess Aurora on her look and the film. I was at the event as part of my work with Disney for their amazing Discover Maleficent hub, over the next few weeks I will be sharing more red carpet and fashion looks inspired by the two themes in the film – ‘gothic glam’ and ‘fairytale chic’ representing the two main characters, Maleficent and Aurora.

I am super excited to be involved as I can’t wait to see this film – the poster had me sold with Angelina’s cheekbones. If you haven’t seen the trailer – check it out.

Sorry, back to Maleficent star Elle Fanning who had a real-life fairytale moment as she joined her co-stars on the blue carpet at Kensington Palace in London for a private reception to celebrate the movie. Playing homage to her character Princess Aurora, Elle looked gorgeous in a cream brocade silk, strapless Georges Hobeika Couture ball gown.

The elegant gown is from the French fashion designer’s autumn/winter 2013 collection and when I asked why she went for this beaded embellished flower motif dress the star said: “Well, it is very princessey, which is kind of fitting and it has pockets, which is nice.” I quite agree!!!

Finishing off her fairytale chic look, the teenage star wore her hair up and accessorised it with floral headpiece, which tied into long ribbons that flowed down her back. Wearing hardly any make-up the star really showed off her beauty, just adding a dusting of rose-coloured eye shadow and blusher, which is very fitting for her character.

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The young starlet gushed that it is a dream come true to play Sleeping Beauty’s Princess Aurora, “She was my favourite always, I related to her the most – each princess has different colour hair, different dress and she had blonde hair and the pink dress and that was what I related to the most.”

Chatting about what fans can expect from the movie, Elle added: “The original story you have a lot of questions and it is also from Sleeping Beauty’s point-of-view, so now this one is from Maleficent’s point of view and all those questions are answered, which is nice – you kind of get the back-story and you understand why she is so angry.

“I think it is a little more gothic, you know it definitely has dark qualities to it, because it is from a villains point of view, Disney has never done that pretty much before, but it also has the light – it is a whole new world you have never seen.”

Do you rate Elle’s princess ball gown?

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[Pics:  David Dettmann/James Gillham for Disney]
**Post in collaboration with Disney for the Maleficent hub – for more on the hub visit – maleficentmovie.tumblr.com** 

Oct 18 2013

Interview: Donna Ida Talks All Things Denim

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Last week I shared with you the behind-the-scenes snaps of my video interview with jeans Queen Donna Ida as she opened up her first pop-up boutique up North at McArthurGlen’s Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet – well finally the video has been edited and I’m so pleased with how it came out.

I chat with Donna about her denim must-haves, her denim icons, her favourite pieces from her own brand ‘Ida’, what trends to expect this autumn/winter, and her expert tips on how to find the perfect pair of jeans.

Donna’s pop-up at Cheshire Oaks is open until October 20, if you are in the Chester area make sure you check it out as the selection of jeans is incredible and there are some bargains to be had as well.

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[Pics/video: courtesy of McArthurGlen]

Feb 23 2013

Interview: Catherine Kallon – The Fabulous Blogger Behind Red Carpet Fashion Awards

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I dabble in red carpet celebrity fashion, and when I say dabble I like to do the award season, anything Diane Kruger because I love her, the Met Gala and the odd premiere throughout the year if a look wows me, but Catherine Kallon’s Red Carpet Fashion Awards is the only blog around to get up-to-date, accurate and honest commentary of literally every red carpet look you could wish for – near enough 365 days of the year. Basically Catherine is a machine when it comes to blogging celebrity looks!!!

When I was putting together a list of who I wanted to interview for my 360 perspective of the award season – from the fashion publicist, to the celebrity stylist, and the critic’s point of view, there was only one choice in my head for the critic and that was Catherine. It wasn’t easy, Catherine is one extremely busy blogger, with fashion month, award season, and just generally running a huge website she doesn’t have much time, but I caught up with her before she jetted off to Los Angeles to attend this year’s Oscars and I love that I was able to promote one of my favourite bloggers.

I chatted with her about the background to RCFA, who she is looking forward to seeing at The Oscars, as well as her incredible collaboration with Roland Mouret, who has designed her a custom-made dress for the big night.

Can you tell me about your fashion background and why you decided to set up your blog, Red Carpet Fashion Awards?

Catherine: “I didn’t have any fashion background. I started Red Carpet Fashion Awards in 2007, when I was a bored PA working in the football industry. I had a brief stint at an event management company who had fashion clients, but was made redundant when the recession hit.

“I used to surf several fashion websites at work and I was surprised at how often the credits for designers were wrong. The reason there is a runway image next to a red carpet image always served as proof that the credit to the designer is correct.”

Can you describe a typical day at Red Carpet Fashion Awards?

I get up at around 7/8am. Browse all the picture agencies to see what events happened the night before.  I then select which ones I want to feature on the site. Put them in order and start to write-up the blog post.

“After receiving them all back from my proofreader, I will then start putting the pictures together and scheduling them to upload at either 20min or 30min intervals throughout the day – depending on how busy the day is. This sounds like it should take up to 2 hours tops, but I’m a big procrastinator and I get easily distracted by my Google reader and twitter as I am always looking for new content.

“The rest of the day is spent going through emails, trying to ensure I eat something before 4pm and going to Bikram Yoga at least once a day. I don’t have any food in my house so it forces me to leave my house at least once a day.  Its surprises how time flies when you are on the net.”

I know that you cover red carpet nearly 365 days a year but what extra preparation do you do for the Award Season?

I take a long walk just before the show starts to clear my head and I have something stodgy like pasta as fuel food.” 

From Golden Globes to The Oscars and BAFTAs – which award show do you get most excited about? And why?

I do love all those listed, but on occasion they can be a bit of a let-down fashion-wise, as celebs play it safe as no one wants to be on the worst dressed list. There is so much riding on what a celebrity is wearing that I was told that the wrong dress actually affects the box office. I didn’t realise so much more than the celebrity and the designers pride was at stake.

“The Vanity Fair party usually outshines the Oscars for me. But the Oscars is the one I get most excited about. I remember watching it as a kid and thinking that all the women were princesses. I have been hooked ever since.” 

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Jennifer Lawrence at the Golden Globes

Which celebrity are you most looking forward to seeing at The Oscars? And what would you like to see them wearing?

Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Lawrence. Even though I have moaned about Jennifer through-out awards season I am hoping she makes me eat my words on Oscar night.” 

Which designers do you love seeing on the red carpet?

“My bling kings are Elie Saab and Naeem Khan. Edgier designers like Prabal Gurung and Jason Wu I love and you can’t beat the classics for pure romanticism like Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera.” 

What I love about your site is the honest reviews – have you ever been asked to take down a blog post? Or for that matter include someone you didn’t feel right for the site?

Yes I was asked once to take down a post of Courtney Love. I wasn’t surprised because she looked a mess. I was surprised the brand loaned it to her.” 

This award season is extra special as Roland Mouret is dressing you for The Oscars – how did that collaboration come together?

His PR team contacted me one afternoon telling me that Roland Mouret wanted to take me to the Oscars, and that he would be dressing me. I kid you not I almost fainted. He wanted to thank me for all the support I had given him over the years and it was also his idea to get the readers involved which was genius.

“I was nervous at first, but considering that they all love my blog, I knew that they had great tastes.”

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The chosen design and fabric for Catherine’s dress

I like that your readers have voted from everything from the colour to your accessories and even your hairstyle – are you scared about what you might be wearing?

No, I have seen the gown after a few fittings and it is so beautiful. I would’ve picked the fuchsia pink, which in hindsight would’ve been pretty generic. The coral jacquard the readers picked for me is divine. I love the way it shimmers. It’s going to look amazing on the red carpet with the Californian sunshine beaming down on it. I can’t wait.”

Of course I couldn’t let Catherine get away without asking a few personal questions – I wanted to know about her favourite pieces in her wardrobe, what she likes to do to relax, and her blog recommendations.

What three items in your wardrobe can’t you live without?

My Isabel Marant ‘Bobby’ boots, Mih Jeans and Victoria’s Secret push up bras.” 

What are you currently addicted to? 

“Crime dramas ‘Castle’, ‘White Collar’ and ‘CSI Las Vegas’. I am an undercover pop music fan. I love anything from Taylor Swift to N’Sync. My neighbours will often head to work hearing ‘Bye Bye Bye’ playing from my iTunes and I am not ashamed of it.

If you could steal the style of one person who would it be?

“I have my moments. I go from wanting to look perfect like Dita von Teese, but that level of perfection would be exhausting, so I would say Solange Knowles as she loves colours and prints as much as I do. I’m also a big fan of Victoria Beckham’s style.” 

Which three blogs would you recommend?

“I like Fashionista for fashion news. London Grumblr and 99 Problems But A Pitch Aint One for pure laughter and entertainment.”

**Many thanks to Catherine, always super busy but still found the time to answer my questions, check out her blog and follow her on Twitter for up-to-date celebrity fashion.**

[Pics: Catherine Kallon/Red Carpet Fashion Awards & Dior]

Feb 22 2013

Interview: Ilaria Urbinati – The Stylist Behind Nina Dobrev & Bradley Cooper

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The rise of the celebrity stylist has fascinated me for a while, yes we have all seen Rachel Zoe and Brad Goreski on their reality shows, and many a celebrity name drops their stylist as one of their close friends, but what actually does a stylist have to do in the run up to a major award show?

Well, I asked one of my favourite red carpet stylists, Ilaria Urbinati, who has been making waves recently with her incredible styling of Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev, I think each look last year and this has been on my best dressed lists, and I love the way she seems to make Bradley Cooper look even hotter in his dapper suits.

For me, Ilaria is up there with the likes of Jen Rade who dresses Angelina Jolie, Kate Young who is known for styling Michelle Williams and Natalie Portman, and British stylist Cher Coulter who seems to make Rosie Huntington Whiteley look so stylish with little effort, and it was so cool to find out how she got started in this crazy world called fashion, what inspires her styling, and how she makes Nina Dobrev look so flawless on the red carpet.

What made you want to be a celebrity stylist? And how did you get your start? Also can you tell me a little about yourself and fashion background?

Ilaria: “I actually didn’t want to work in fashion at all! Growing up I only wanted to read and write. Most of my family works in fashion and I was sort of the black sheep. But I needed a job and my aunt (who had an incredible store in the 90s that was really popular with stylists) wouldn’t hire me to work at her store so I went and worked at Fred Segal and became their #1 salesperson. So then my aunt was like – OK come work for me now.

“I became her buyer and suddenly at 18 found myself sitting front row in Paris at Balenciaga and Margiela runway shows. After that I was the buyer for several other really popular stores, and one day I met actress Mia Kirshner because she liked the store I was a buyer for called Satine. She asked me to come interview to be the stylist for her show The L Word. I’d never styled anything in my life so I didn’t think I’d get it and I didn’t really care either way. So I went in there with nothing to lose and a lot of opinions about what they were doing wrong with the clothes on the show.

“Out of the 30 working stylists they interviewed, I got the job. Typical! It’s always like that when you have nothing to lose. That was like styling boot camp – it was totally insane. After that I went freelance and now here I am.”

Can you run me through how you get from brief to red carpet, the time involved in dressing a celebrity for the red carpet? Basically what is a typical day for you.

“Usually if a client has a big red carpet they either tell me way in advance – or two days before. It’s always like that, it’s totally unpredictable. Then I go through the political nightmare of trying to get my hands on the dresses or gowns I want. It’s tough – so many girls, not enough good gowns! Sometimes you gotta get creative. That part is definitely the most challenging, because it’s not just about your taste or your skill, it’s about your relationships and the status of the client in the industry.

“Once I get all the clothes in we do a fitting – if it’s a big event like an award show we do a couple of different fittings as various gowns start to trickle in. If it’s for an entire press tour then a fitting can take HOURS. We try everything on, pick our favourite and I pin it (I do all my own pinning because I don’t trust tailors to do it the way I want). Then I take it to my amazing tailors and we try to squeeze in another fitting if there’s time just to make sure everything’s perfect and the undergarments, accessories, jewellery etc., all work. Otherwise we close our eyes, get really stressed out and pray for no last-minute surprises!

“If it’s for a press tour that I organise it by outfit, label it by date and event, and pack it up in true OCD style. You gotta figure the clients waking up at 4am, in a different city or different country every day. They just want it spelled out for them at that point.”

What inspires your styling?

“Almost always its movies – I’m a real film junkie. Anything from Woody Allen and Bertolucci/Fellini movies to 90’s chick flicks like Clueless and Heathers. I’m a real 90’s kid. For men I’m inspired by the great icons like Paul Newman, James Dean, Alain Delon, Steve McQueen, Brando – all classic guys whose outfits still look cool today.

“Sometimes I’m inspired by an old photograph (I keep A LOT of archives of photos on my desktop) or a book (I’ve definitely been known to shout ‘it’s so Franny from Franny & Zooey!’ in fittings before). I’m sort of a cultural and pop cultural junkie so that informs everything I do. Otherwise I get bored because fashion can be vapid. There needs to be a bit of a story to keep a look cohesive (and more fun for me).”

How important are fashion weeks for your styling? Or is more about relationships with fashion houses and showrooms?

“Not to sound spoiled, but I have had to go to every fashion week (four times a year if you count men’s) for the last 16 years of my life, and still now because of my store Confederacy (I do all the buying). If it were up to me, I would avoid it like the plague. It’s everything I DON’T like about this industry. Just a bunch of silly drama. It’s exhausting and unpleasant and stressful and only glamorous the FIRST time or if you’re an actress just attending shows. I’m there to work and for me it’s hell. As much as I love NY, I pretty much hate it during fashion week.

“So for me it’s definitely about the relationships with the fashion houses. There can definitely be some bitches working in this industry – and I remember the ones that used to be horrible snobs to me but who now send me Christmas cards every year – BUT, I have mostly met some incredibly lovely people. We’re all in it together and I see some of them more than I see my own family most of the time! So there’s a real bond there, and we’re all total workaholics.”

 

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Bradley Cooper in Tom Ford at the SAG Awards

You style both female and male celebrities, is there differences in how you approach the styling? Also do you have a preference?

“There is totally a difference because with men, it’s really more about your taste and knowledge and skill of it because there’s not as many politics involved. Designers don’t care if more than one guy wears the same style suit so it’s a totally different game. For that reason I do prefer it. I have more control over the job.

“I also have a lot more male clients than I do females so I constantly just have racks and racks of clothes in my studio to work from. But people always say that men are easier to dress than women, and I disagree. There’s way more attention to detail with men. With a girl – you put her in a pretty dress, she looks good. With a guy there are so many limits and it’s harder (but really fun) to try and play around and within those limits – to make a guy look classic and simple but still have him look unique.

“During awards season though I do love working with women more because I do love a good gown!”

What is the biggest challenge you face with dressing celebrities?

“Their entourage. Lets leave it at that.”

 

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” Kerry Washington – she takes insane risks and ALWAYS pulls it off”

Which celebrity do you feel has flawless style? And why?

“Recently – Kerry Washington – she takes insane risks and ALWAYS pulls it off. There’s a real story behind her looks, you can just tell. I’m always totally in awe of her looks – especially her Django press tour. That checkered Louis Vuitton dress with the bow headband and the little box clutch – I was floored.

“I’m always in awe when something is risky but totally works – because I know the balls it took on the stylist and the client’s part. It’s a tough world out there and everyone’s a critic! To be able to say screw it let’s make it fun, I love that. Fashion shouldn’t be so serious.”

You style some of the ‘best dressed’ stars in the business, is there a celebrity that you would love to style in the future? And why?

“I can’t name names, but it’s always the girls that are well-known but manage to look terrible that I want to dress. I love a project. Also I sit at home watching the award shows going – oh my god with the access to designers you have – THAT’S what you wore???? That’s the craziest to me. When someone is really well-known or nominated and I know for a fact that they can get ANY look from ANY designer including couture OR custom and they’re wearing some bland dress – that, I’ll never understand.

“That said, I really do try to not judge other stylists’ work because I know how many other elements are at play. And one thing I never do is knit pick. It’s crazy the stress we go through like, ‘shit, if we use this bra, they will be able to see an inch of it through this one little panel here’ – and you know the blogs will ZERO IN on that one imperfection. It’s kind of crazy.

“The internet has done amazing and terrible things for the world of styling! Everyone just relax! I’m sitting there thinking, god if it was me I would just throw the damn thing on and who cares if they can see that I wore a bra! But such is not the case on the red carpet.”

What trends do you think we will see this award season? Or do you not work to trends?

I don’t ever work trends. I stay so far away from trends. For one thing, how are you supposed to set trends if you’re following trends. Secondly, I like to pick things that will still look great in 50 years. Like old photos of Natalie Wood, Bardot, Sofia Loren, Birkin, Elizabeth Taylor. You don’t get that by following trends. Having said that – sometimes something being ‘in’ lets you get away with something that would never fly otherwise (case in point – Kerry Washington’s Louis Vuitton checkered dress).”

 

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Nina Dobrev at the SAG Awards

When it comes to styling Nina Dobrev, who I think was last years breakthrough star, what do you have to consider? Does she has preferences on designers, styles or are you able to suggest new things for her?

“With Nina, we both really try and maintain balances – like the balance of trying designers she hasn’t worn before, while also maintaining a level of loyalty to the designers she has worn in the past. Or like the balance between fashion-forward and accessible.

“She has a young fan base and I want them to be able to look up to her so it’s important to keep her chic and never ever border on trashy or too revealing – at the same time, she’s young too and we want to have fun with her look. There’s definitely a responsibility that comes with a young fan base and Nina is always super respectful of that, and so gracious – that’s also why they love her so much, they get that from her.

“What’s fun is that I always know that if a look looked good on the runway, it will probably look great on her. She has such an incredible figure – even better than the models cause she is slim and tall but also has some curves – she’s a dream to work with. There’s also a real collaboration between us. She is very involved in the whole process.”

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Can you name your biggest styling achievement?

“Probably Nina at the Emmys when she wore the red Donna Karan gown. People in styling always talk about ‘a moment’ – THAT was a moment. A total game changer. A stylist gets only a few of those a career!

“Also I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve worked with most of my clients as long as I have – I had Bradley right before the first Hangover, Chris Evans before Captain America, Armie Hammer before Social Network. It’s fun to see them blow up and get the career they deserve. I’m proud of their loyalty to me and I’m proud of my relationships with them – some of them feel like family to me.

“My client Krysten Ritter, whom I met on a shoot almost 5 years ago, is one of my best friends on the planet. They don’t make too many humans as true blue as that girl.

“It’s easy to get close on the job because you work together so much and it’s really a collaborative and creative process. It’s also pretty intimate – you see everyone in their skivies! So you get comfortable with each other real quick!”

What do you think about using social media? I know that you are big on using Twitter and Instagram – do you enjoy sharing your work?

“I LOVE twitter. Instagram is fun as well cause of the images, but as ridiculously stupid as it sounds – I feel a lot of support on Twitter and you get an immediate response. On award show days I’ll still be driving home from the client’s house and start getting the fans tweeting me the photos of the client hitting the red carpet.

“Recently I was so nervous/excited and I tweeted ‘happy golden globes day! wish me luck!’ and I got about 50 tweets from total strangers wishing me luck and saying cute things like ‘as if you need it, you’ll do great!’ – I mean – it’s really cute and it’s really sweet. And they’re my client’s fans so I love seeing their support of them because I’m a fan too so I get it. Also I kind of love giving out style tips haha so when my big GQ article came out last year it was really fun answering all the boys’ fashion queries!”

Do you have any advice for aspiring fashion stylists?

“I always say the same thing – there’s no rules. I never even assisted, but you have to work your tail off – whether you’re interning or assisting or on your first job – you have to be the first to arrive, the last to leave and you have to care about it more than anybody.

“I always go above and beyond with my clients and that’s such a big part of why they stay loyal. It’s important, in any aspiration, to have work ethic and to give more than you’re getting. I really believe that. That said, I’m a complete workaholic and probably need to learn to take it a little easier.

“I also always advise people to really know your references – know your fashion history, know every collection, know what it means when someone says ‘Dolce & Gabbana is channelling Schiaparelli this season’ (or whatever). Also be a culture junkie – the more you take in, the more inspiration you will have to draw from.

“Most importantly – realise that this is not an audition for your reality show, this generation really needs to learn that! Some of these interns I interview, I swear!! It’s not all glitz, glamour and shopping. 85% of it is schlepping and long hours and racks falling over on your head (which by the way just happened to me yesterday.”

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Let’s step away from the red carpet and find out a little bit more about you, what’s your style, where would you recommend to visit in LA and what are your current addictions!!!

What three items in your wardrobe can’t you live without?

“My Corey Lynn Calter star print silk pant suit. Perfect for fittings cause its comfy and chic. My vintage Havana black sweater with a giant skull on it (as VERY often seen on me on instagram. Any and all cute flats! I don’t wear heels cause I’m lazy and a slave to comfort – so I compensate by wearing fancy and fun flats.”

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I’ve only been to LA once and loved it, what shops/must see places would you recommend?

“Um, well obviously mine – ‘Confederacy’ in Los Feliz! The ‘Way We Wore’ and ‘Resurrection’ for the best designer vintage by far. ‘American Rag’ for affordable thrift store finds (and lunch next door). The ‘Malibu Country Mart’ for a day of outdoor shopping by the sea – aka my happy place. ‘Arclight’ for the best movie going experience in the WORLD (and stop by ‘Amoeba Records’ next door) – aka my other happy place, and ‘Pinz’ for bowling – I had my birthday there!”

“And oh my god so many amazing restaurants. To name a few: beef picked tacos from ‘Malo’s’, gourmet burgers from ‘Umami Burger’, ‘Picca Peru’ for foodie/Peruvian heaven, ‘Terronis’ for Italian, ‘Cliff’s Edge’ for atmosphere (night), ‘Trails Cafe’ for atmosphere (day), ‘Johns Garden’ in Malibu for healthy outdoor comfort & people watching, ‘Sugarfish’ from famed chef Nozawa for the best sushi in the damn country and ‘La Poubelle’ for drinks.”

What are you currently addicted to? 

“The TV show Nashville (I’m secretly a big country music nerd, which is weird cause I’m from Italy ), the band First Aid Kit, Winona Ryder and Sandra Bullock chick flicks (always and forever – and the best cure for heartbreak and/or a stressful day, just add ice cream, and rescue dogs! I keep trying to adopt them all and my husband is like ‘please no more dogs!'”

Who are your favourite designers?

“For red carpet: Elie Saab, Valentino, Prabal Gurung, Givenchy, Calvin Klein, Erdem, Rodarte, Donna Karan, Oscar DelaRenta, Ralph Lauren, Monique Lhuiller, Erdem, Reem Acra, Dior, J Mendel, and Alexandra Vidal.

“For men: Gucci, Burberry, Dior, Dolce, Tom Ford, Calvin, Shipley & Halmos, Todd Snyder, Michael Bastian, Gant, Belstaff, Rag & Bone – and most of all Simon Spurr (I am anxiously awaiting his return to fashion!).

“For me to wear: Valentino (in my dreams), Proenza Schouler, Carven, ALC, Opening Ceremony, Thakoon, Helmut Lang, Dolce, Topshop and Asos.com.”

If you could steal the style of one person who would it be?

“No contest – Keira Knightley. Scruffy tomboy by day, romantic swan by night. HEAVEN!”

Also very randomly, did you ever style with Barbie dolls when you were little?

“I did but my sister used to steal my dolls and hang them by their necks with my blankie out the window. Very traumatising.”

**I was so giggy that Ilaria agreed to answer my mountain of questions and I hope that you enjoyed the second part of my Award Season Interview series – plus if you don’t already follow Ilaria on Twitter – do – she always gives the inside scoop on who she dresses @ilariaurbinati and offers great styling tips.**

[Pics: Ilaria Urbinati/Tom Ford/Elie Saab/Donna Karan]

Feb 21 2013

Interview: Sahar Sanjar – The Life Of A Fashion Publicist During Award Season

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I am huge lover of red carpet style, I love gorgeous gowns, the glam, the glitz and the flash bulbs, but this award season I have decided to find out a little bit about how these red carpet looks come together – from designer to the PR to the stylist and even a critic.

First up is the very experienced Sahar Sanjar, one half of PR agency laChambre in Los Angeles, which she runs with her partner Brooke Pace. When you think about red carpet worthy publicists it has to be Sahar as she looks after the likes of Elie Saab, the red carpet god, Reem Acra and Charlotte Olympia, basically some of my favourite red carpet labels.

I chatted with Sahar a couple of weeks ago just after the SAG Awards and found out a little bit more about what it takes to be a fashion publicist in Hollywood, the pressure of the award season, and I even asked her about stylist Jessica Paster’s comment that fashion PRs are only ‘dress traffickers’.

Can you tell me a little about your fashion background, and the red carpet clients that you look after?

Sahar: “I’ve been working in the fascinating world of PR for a smidge over 8 years now. I started in talent and then made the move to fashion PR. Then, after getting my feet wet a bit – I started laChambre in August of 09 – and I started with brands such a Elie Saab, Paule Ka and a few more.

“Now, in 2013 our brands consist of – Elie Saab, Alberta Ferretti, Reem Acra, Moschino, Lisa Ho, Marina B Jewellery, Charlotte Olympia, Ermenegildo Zegna, Alice+Olivia, Joe’s Jeans, Philosophy Di Alberta Ferretti, Osman, Bibhu Mohapatra, RafWl Cennamo, Pavoni, Katharine Kidd and Kathy Hilton.

“Almost a year into the agency, I brought on Brooke Pace as partner. She was at Dolce & Gabbana for a couple years before coming over.”

What is that your role entails in the run-up to and during award season? Basically what’s a typical day for you?

“My day consists of waking up to a slew of e-mails. We have international clients so the e-mails never stop (not complaining). We get e-mails at all hours of the day. Responding to questions about the strategy behind a new launch, a celebrity target list or just follow ups about meetings, placements, follow up or just keeping someone in the loop. My office works on coordinating looks and getting them to those who have requested them, etc. Stylists appointments in our showroom. I mean our days are usually a blur during award season ­ so I feel like I can¹t properly give you a play by play either. Ha!

“My friends are like ­your days must be so exciting and fun. Sometimes I don’t know if I should break their hearts and tell them the truth – or let the fantasy live on.”

Stylist Jessica Paster has called fashion PRs ‘dress traffickers’ – is there a fine line between protecting your brands and getting it coverage on the red carpet?

“I love Paster! She is too funny truth is – we are, in some sense, the gatekeepers. Often times, people don’t love the middle man cause we can’t always tell them what they want to hear. There is a fine line ­and it is our job utilise our relationships to advance our brands and generate awareness of what our designer is doing, who they are working with, etc.

“I don’t blame Jessica or any other stylist saying that we are ‘just’ dress traffickers or that we are too particular with a brand. I understand where they are coming from. But, my answer remains the same, we are just doing our job.”

What can coverage on the ‘best dressed’ red carpet lists mean for your clients?

“The end goal is that a placement on any red carpet and any list translates into increased awareness of the brand, what the brand stands for, a designer’s message – and most importantly – sales, sales, sales!!!”

And can it make a huge impact on reputation and future placements if on the ‘worst dressed’?

Everybody has a different opinion on who should make the best and worst dressed list. So, it really only impacts you if you share the same sentiment as the creator of that list. Do I always think the weekly magazines get it right when they name their best and worst ­nope – and that’s ok. It’s opinion that makes this game fun.”

elie saab haute couture spring Interview: Sahar Sanjar   The Life Of A Fashion Publicist During Award Season %tagElie Saab is one of my favourite red carpet designers – do you have an red carpet rules when placing the brand?

So lovely to hear that! It’s a really romantic and beautiful brand and the man behind it all is just so so so kind. If you met him – you would love the brand even more.

“The brand provided me with one directive when I was lucky enough to be hired over three years ago – just do what is best for the brand. I think that collectively to this point we have.”

Do you have a celebrity hit list for your designers? If yes, which celebrities would you love to see on the red carpet?

“Every brand has a list of their ideal celebrity – definitely. Ultimately it’s about gathering the right type of press- – so that’s what we are here for.

“The truth is every brand wants to dress the same group of celebrities. That is what heightens the stress we endure through out award season. We want all our brands to get a fair shot with each and every celebrity our designer has an interest in. So, like I tell clients ­our job is to make sure you are represented on all the fittings that are in line with your wishes. From that point – may the best dress win.”

There are always rumours circulating that some designers especially during award season pay for celebrities to wear their designs – do any of your clients do that?

“Yes, I have definitely heard those rumours as well. I can tell you that our brands do not participate in such thing.”

How stressful is it waiting to see/hear that a celebrity is wearing one of your designers?

“Oh! I don’t even think I can actually describe the feeling. There is definitely a lot of pacing involved! A lot of it. Tears. Most times you don¹t know till the last-minute. I mean – it’s truly torture because you want it to work. Ultimately, you have to remind yourself that it¹s no longer in your control at that point. That¹s what I have to repeat over and over and over again. Not that I listen to that advice but at least I try?!”

Do you find more requests from celebrities and their stylists for custom-made gowns during the award season? Are your clients open to creating something for a specific event?

“Yes, lately the request for custom has been through the roof. Clients are open to it if there is enough time to properly execute things.

“Problem is – there is no assurance that a custom option will be the ‘winner’ ­ so at that point you guide your designer through weighing the options. In the end – it¹s up to them.”

To finish up the interview I couldn’t resist adding in a few personal questions about Sahar’s style, what she is loving at the moment, as well as who’s style she would love to steal!!!

What three items in your wardrobe can’t you live without?

“My Joe’s Jeans ­dark wash, straight cut they fit right and know my body. Chanel flats simple and they go with everything. My Helmut Lang blazer ­or any blazer for that matter, it pulls any look together.”

What are you currently addicted to? 

“Oh boy! I am currently loving what TV has to offer ­and always listening to music. But, I am addicted to my nieces. Sapphire Suri who is 18 months & Mila Sofia who is 3 months old. Addicted!!”

Who are your favourite designers?

“All of my clients and, thanks to my mother, Escada.”

If you could steal the style of one person who would it be?

“Miroslava Duma or Taylor Tomasi Hill. Oh.. or Lauren Santo Domingo. Wait – can I pick three?”

Also, one last random question – do you think we might ever see a Barbie x Elie Saab collaboration? I would really love to see that.

“I’d love to see that too! Mr. Saab did a Disney Princess collaboration – did you see that? Princess Aurora, it was delightful!”

**Huge thanks to Sahar for taking part, if you don’t already follow her on Twitter – do – @SaharSanjar – especially if you love red carpet fashion**

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