Love it or hate it, Jennifer Hudson took a fashion risk on the red carpet at the Academy Awards when she donned a chocolate brown gown and jacket from Oscar de la Renta that covered her curves. Hudson alone didn’t necessarily pick out the gown that fashion critics panned. Vogue editor at large and stylist Andre Leon Talley took the heat from that red carpet selection.
Behind nearly every celebrity stands a cadre of assistants who plan her life. Among that band of helpers are the stylists, those who pick out and coordinate every outfit a celebrity might wear in public. A celebrity can be walking the dog or pumping gas and still look as though she is ready to have a photo snapped by lurking papparazzi.
How do stylists keep a celebrity’s closet stocked with ready-to-wear outfits? We talk to three personal shoppers in Las Vegas who dress the stars to give you some tips.
Nancy Rosu has styled approximately 50 celebrities. Want to know who? Well, you won’t find out from her. "I’m discreet," Rosu says whenever she is asked to drop names. In a business where Star magazine will hound any and every person in a celebrity’s circle to get a scoop, her sealed lips come both as a rarity and a treasure. "I feel like I get the volume (of clients) I get and the quality referrals because I can keep secrets," she said.
Although some stylists — such as Rachel Zoe, whose breakup with client Nicole Richie was covered by the gossip magazines — have reached the same celebrity status as their clients simply by association, Rosu prefers her low profile. "I don’t make it about myself. Ever," she said. In fact, she goes to great lengths to "baby the client" as she refers to it. When working with Rosu, a celebrity doesn’t have to lift a finger, not even to sign the check (services usually start around $1,200). "I work with their accountants," the MBA recipient said, "and their assistants and their tailors."
She also brings a virtual boutique right to the stars who don’t approach shopping as a photo opportunity. Rosu has become known for pulling clothes from boutiques and department stores and setting up rolling racks in hotel rooms as part of her Boutique to You service. And, rather than wait for a client to call on her in a panic, Rosu keeps weekly contact through personal visits or with her Fashion in a Box program. With that, she packs everything she’s gathered in her daily shopping that fits one client’s style and fills a large box with the outfits and instructions on exactly how to wear the pieces together. "They don’t want to go out and shop but they really need several outfits a day because they’re photographed everywhere, whether it’s for the red carpet or just going to the zoo," she said.
Tricks of the trade: For house calls, Rosu hangs Monday through Friday looks in clients’ closets. To avoid seeing them in "worst dressed" sections, she uses her closet time to their advantage. "That’s when I try to sneak the bad stuff out, too," she said.
If ever guests at the Wynn Las Vegas need some styling assistance, they can knock on Justine Bach’s bright, red door with a sign that reads, "Personal Shopping Service," in the heart of the Wynn Las Vegas Esplanade. Bach has had everyone from the clueless husband knock for her free personal shopping services to A-list celebrities and royal princesses. No matter their title or affiliation, the service is the same, usually because their needs are similar. "Once you get someone working one-on-one with you, whether they’re a top celebrity or an average person, the insecurities come out," said Bach who has worked with Harrison Ford, Calista Flockhart, Paula Abdul and La Toya Jackson.
To tame their concerns, Bach has become somewhat of a professional self-esteem booster. "Personal shopping isn’t about the sale," she said. "It’s about building up their confidence."
Bach carefully selects garments that will amplify her clients’ strongest physical features while camouflaging the weak ones. Super skinny celebrities get big prints, voluptuous clients don’t.
Bach can also accommodate famous clients’ privacy needs inside the Wynn’s personal fitting room. The lounge, television and bar are nice amenities, but those who want to take a new look further can work with the Salon at the Wynn for a total transformation. "It’s not about a particular style," Bach said. "It’s about the feeling they walk away with."
Tricks of the trade: Put everything in place for the client to look and feel their best. "We have fabulous lighting," Bach said. "If I ever feel down, I just go in (the personal fitting room) and have a look." She also recommends going shopping with hair and makeup applied while wearing the kind of shoes that will complement your look. "A lot of people just can’t get past it if they don’t," she said.
Snagging a celebrity client comes easy for Daaron Daniels, who has worked with Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, Howie Mandel and Gordie Brown. He simply sits behind the counter at Lior inside the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, where he works as a selling partner, and waits. "They just walk in," he said. "Celebrities are just like normal people. They come in, shop and the next thing you know you’re on a whole new level with them."
Daniels uses an unassuming approach with his famous clients. He greets them as he would any other shopper, never using their names, even if it’s someone as high profile as Lopez. "When she came in, there was a big fuss out front, they shut the mall down and guards escorted her around," Daniels said. "But if I would have made a fuss (over her) I would’ve put myself in a different category."
Daniels also takes into consideration the event the celebrity will be attending. If it’s going to be televised, such as an awards show, he chooses his color palette accordingly. For instance, he hasn’t worked with Nicole Richie, but if he had to dress her for television, he would stay away from black. "She gets lost in it," he said of the super thin starlet. But he’d steer clear of white, too. "It would wash her out." Richie would be dressed in a loud, vibrant print.
No matter the client, he prefers to work from his Lior headquarters. "It would have to be a really special occasion for me to leave the store," Daniels said.
Tricks of the trade: "As women mature they get problem areas in their waists and the backs of their arms," Daniels said. "To give an elongated look, I incorporate a bodice under a shirt, an extra pair of hose for support, double-layered control tops or a corset under a shirt to emphasize the bosom and create a waist."