When it came time for the red carpet at last night’s Met Gala, we had a list of people we couldn’t wait to see—and Kristen Stewart was definitely one of them. The 23-year-old starlet turned up (sadly without Robert Pattinson) in a glamorous red jumpsuit by Stella McCartney, and was instantly one of the night’s standout stars.
Naturally, we had to consult her longtime stylist, Tara Swennen—who also dressed Teresa Palmer in Diane von Furstenberg for the big night—to get the full scoop. Swennen and K-Stew have worked together since the actress was 14 years old, so it’s no surprise that she has some great insight into the A-lister’s much-discussed sense of style.
Below, Swennen dishes on what it takes to style such a major event, as well as Stewart’s fashion evolution, and the one trend the “Twilight” actress refuses to try.
StyleCaster: The Met Gala is fashion’s biggest night. How is prepping for the red carpet different than others?
Tara Swennen: For both Kristen Stewart and Teresa Palmer, we started about a month out by figuring out who they were going with. We loved the idea of Stella McCartney for Kristen because she hasn’t gone with a girl before, so we were having our girl power moment. Teresa went with Diane von Furstenberg which was an organic fit as well. I never thought both of my girls would end up in red lace for a punk themed gala!
With Kristen, we went over the sketches via email—and it was unanimous decision that we really liked the jumpsuit. Stella had given us the option of doing it in black or green and the cranberry red color that we ended up going with. Kristen went back and forth between the red and the green—and we just decided we loved it. Her hair is a little bit reddish right now, so we thought it would complement it well.
With Teresa it was the same situation—she has a crazy travel schedule right now. We loved the idea of a red on a blonde. The color looks so pretty on her. We loved the deep V in the front. I’m a huge fan of lace, I love putting it on my girls. With Kristen we did our fitting via Skype with Stella. So it was really fun to do that—and they’re good friends and have met before in London, so that was really nice. That was just to make sure every nip and tuck was done properly. She had a representative from L.A. and a tailor we both used.
How did the theme and celebration of the “Punk: Chaos to Couture” exhibit impact your styling?
The main thing for me is that the girls feel comfortable and in their element. With Kristen, the theme was perfect for her, that’s why we thought the pant was kind of cool and different from a gown. The pantsuit was definitely her interpretation of punk. I knew a lot of would be hair and makeup, since Kristen doesn’t accessorize that much, so it had to be in the outfit as well as the beauty. Kristen doesn’t have her ears pierced or anything so I tried to add a studded heel for a little bit of a punk edge.
Given her love of Converse, a lot of people expected her to wear them last night given the theme. Did you guys discuss doing that?
No! You would’ve thought it would have happened. That’s why I love her! Every time you think she’s going to do something, she switches it up. It was more than punk glam.
How have you seen Kristen’s style evolve—on and off the red carpet?
Off the red carpet, that girl is tried and true when it comes to her look. She loves being in T-shirts and jeans and Converse and she’s been doing that since she was 14. I’m so happy she goes for it on the red carpet, but her true style on a day-to-day basis has stayed exactly the same and I love that about her. She doesn’t feel the need to follow trends.
As far as on the red carpet, I started with her when she was 14, she’s become a woman since I’ve known her and really come into her own. She’s more and more courageous and takes risks every year. I was blown away at the last “Breaking Dawn” press tour when she let me do all this sheer stuff and was okay wearing very risky pieces. I think she’s really coming into her own with her fashion. I love her because she’s so tried and true—she knows what she likes. There are certain things she will not do—I respect that she has things she knows about herself and she knows to stick what works.
What won’t Kristen wear?
Last season, it was so funny because they called us out in The New York Times [that] Kristen had sort of hit every trend last year except for peplum! She’s not a fan of peplum. I tried with 20 peplum dresses this year, and it was not happening! I’m trying to get her to the high-neck turtleneck thing. I’m trying to push her.
How do you and Kristen feel about last night’s Met Gala look compared to past years?
I think out of the four times she’s gone, this has been my favorite look—but that’s not to say the others weren’t far behind. The Balenciaga last year had a punk element too—she loved that one as well. I love the dress the Proenza Schouler boys made for her in 2011. I think it was just really fun this year with her collaborating with a girl because it’s been boys the whole time. She was very involved, which was great, so I think she really enjoyed that. She loved the idea of slipping her hand in her pocket! She could be part of the design process.
Did you see any other standout looks on the red carpet?
Sarah Jessica Parker was my favorite! I thought she nailed it—I’m a stylist who loves when people take a concept and make it their own. She by far was the best! There were definitely some great ones, but she was the one that bowled me over. I actually loved Cameron Diaz in Stella McCartney as well—it was a really unique dress.
With summer coming up, what are some staples every girl needs to have in her closet?
I’m on the neon tip still and I love it with cool metallics, like a fun neon skirt. Clearly, I’m really into the jumpers—you can run around in a cute little romper and a cute little jumpsuit all summer!
A lot of stylists are breaking into design. Is this something you’re interested in?
I went to school for design and when we did The Hollywood Reporter luncheon for most powerful stylists I was looking around the table and was like, “I’m the only person who doesn’t have their own TV show and fashion line!” I feel like I have to jump on board. I majored in design at Cornell. It’s a natural evolution these days—I look forward to it when I figure out what exactly I want to do!