Scroll To See More Images
On Sunday, February 28, all eyes will be on the red carpet at the Academy Awards, but somewhere behind the scenes, there will be an exhausted set of stylists who have been toiling for weeks to make sure every yard of tulle, stiletto strap, and earring stud is perfectly in place before sending their stars out in front of the cameras. These aren’t just frivolous details, either: When all the elements align, the right look can change the course of an actress’s career (or at least help her land a lucrative campaign deal).
Celebrity image and fashion have never been quite so intertwined as they are today—but you might not know the names of the people pulling the strings. Most stylists don’t have the mainstream fame of, say, Rachel Zoe—who, for the first time in many years, isn’t dressing anyone for the Oscars (perhaps because her former associates nabbed all her biggest clients, as you’ll read more about below)—but that doesn’t mean they’re not power brokers in their own right.
Read on to get to know nine of the top stylists behind the biggest names at the Oscars:
Client: Cate Blanchett (nominated for Best Actress)
One look at this veteran stylist’s client list, and it’s clear she’s one of Hollywood’s heavy hitters. She outfits, in addition to the perennially best-dressed Blanchett, Julia Roberts, Viola Davis, Amanda Seyfried, and Jessica Chastain, and was christened the Most Powerful Stylist of 2014 by the Hollywood Reporter.
Her rise to the top started around the same time the concept of celebrity styling itself became a thing when she jumped from a role as fashion editor at Women’s Wear Daily to gigs dressing such stars as Calista Flockhart and Kristen Davis in their television heyday. Today, Stewart is known for her bold, high-fashion choices, and together with Blanchett favors such designers as Givenchy and Alexander McQueen. After a press tour wardrobe for “Carol” that has run the gamut from flapper-inspired fringe to second-skin chainmail, the pair has left the field wide open for the season’s final red carpet turn.
Jill Lincoln and Jordan Johnson
Clients: Jennifer Lawrence (nominated for Best Actress), Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Garner (presenting), Isla Fisher (attending)
After cutting their teeth at Rachel Zoe Studio—Jordan started as an intern straight out of FIDM in Los Angeles, while Jill came from an East Coast editorial background, having assisted Elle’s former fashion director, Isabel Dupré—this duo struck out on their own last year, bringing an A-list roster of clients with them. Sunday will mark their first Oscar turn out from under Zoe’s wing, and they’ll have four separate looks on the red carpet. Their ongoing takeover of Getty Entertainment’s Instagram feed provides an enlightening look into their work process—including the sheer number of stilettos it takes to make sure an actress has all the options she could possibly need on the big night.
For J. Law, there’s virtually no question the gown will be designed by Dior (after all, the star’s $15 million contract with the house doesn’t expire until 2017), but what it will actually look like remains a mystery. With Raf Simons no longer at the helm, the label’s couture show in January lacked any real red-carpet contenders, and the atelier’s interim leaders have no doubt been working overtime on a custom design.
Clients: Brie Larson (nominated for Best Actress), Tina Fey, Margot Robbie (presenting)
With three clients set to walk the red carpet Sunday—and one of them the favorite for Best Actress, no less—this New York City–born stylist certainly has her work cut out for her. So far, she’s successfully shepherded Larson’s transformation from relative unknown into breakout red-carpet star with the help of a handful of statement-making looks: a gold sequined Calvin Klein gown for the Golden Globes and, most recently, a surprisingly sexy blue Versace number for the SAG Awards.
Now, Ehrlich, who can also claim credit for giving Allison Williams high-fashion cred, has the potential to make a major splash, since compared with most actresses, Larson is a blank slate. “We are almost creating this character of who she wants to be on the carpet,” she told The Hollywood Reporter, which last year named her number eight on its annual list of the Most Powerful Stylists.
Client: Alicia Vikander (nominated for Best Supporting Actress)
A former model who walked the runway for Prada, Preen, and Alexander McQueen in the early aughts, Sekrier has built a career behind the scenes as an editorial stylist for arty fashion glossies like V and Interview. Vikander is her first and only celebrity client (they met through a friend at a cocktail party), and the pairing has been a fruitful one so far, with the actress earning accolades for her elegant, understated red-carpet style and scoring both a Vogue cover and a Louis Vuitton campaign in the course of just a few months.
With her recent slew of winning Vuitton looks, including a slick leather gown at the BAFTAs and a standout spangly number at the SAG Awards, we’d be fairly shocked if the “Danish Girl” star doesn’t cap off the season in another custom creation from the French house.
Client: Lady Gaga (nominated for Best Original Song)
As far as red-carpet regulars go, Lady Gaga is a wild card. Over the past year or so, her style has pivoted away from the weird and wonderful days of meat dresses and armadillo heels and toward sophisticated glamour, often with an Old Hollywood twist—although, as her Bowie tribute ensemble at the Grammys proved, she still has a taste for theatrics.
Helping orchestrate her ever-changing aesthetic is Brandon Maxwell, a Texas-born stylist and designer who has been Gaga’s close collaborator since 2012. The two met while Maxwell was assisting Nicola Formichetti, now the designer of Nicopanda and the creative director of Diesel, and have continued to work together ever since, even as Maxwell’s work has veered away from styling (Gaga remains his only celebrity client). Last September, he debuted his namesake collection at New York Fashion Week, and the singer sat front row—a move she followed up this season, despite the show being just one day after the Grammys.
Client: Rooney Mara (nominated for Best Supporting Actress)
While he’s worked with Rosamund Pike, Jennifer Aniston, and Carey Mulligan, this Vanity Fair contributing editor is probably best known for his collaboration with Mara, whom he’s counted as a client ever since her breakout role in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” They get along, the actress told Vogue, because, like her, “he’s very quiet and thoughtful,” and can steer her through the high-fashion world even when she’s reluctant to do so herself. Despite Mara’s ambivalence toward the red carpet, Hastings has helped establish her reputation as one of the most consistently well-dressed women in Hollywood, whether playing up her dark side in a gothic Givenchy gown or nodding toward her Audrey Hepburn resemblance in a classic nipped-waist minidress.
Client: Kerry Washington (presenting)
It’s Walsh’s magic touch that’s turned Washington into a home-run hitter on the red carpet. Since linking up with the stylist in 2012, Washington has pulled off heavy-metal Marc Jacobs at the Emmys, pale-pink Miu Miu at last year’s Academy Awards, and, while she was pregnant, a full season of crop tops and black-tie gowns that flouted all maternity-wear norms. Walsh, who is based in New York City, got her start at Vogue and maintains an impressive portfolio of editorial clients, although with names like Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristen Wiig, and Maggie Gyllenhaal calling on her for help, it’s a wonder she has the time.
Clients: Reese Witherspoon, Charlize Theron, Julianne Moore (presenting)
Just because for once none of her clients are on the ballot doesn’t mean this Toronto-born power stylist doesn’t have her work cut out for her. Witherspoon, Theron, and Moore are all fan favorites on the red carpet, and Fremar will have to strike the delicate balance between making sure they look sufficiently kitted-out for Hollywood’s biggest night of the year and giving the nominees the chance to shine.
Luckily, she isn’t new to the game: she’s been working the awards-show circuit for more than a decade, following stints as Anna Wintour’s assistant at Vogue and as director of celebrity relations at Prada. Last year, she successfully navigated whirlwind press tours for two Best Actress nominees (Witherspoon for Wild and Moore for Still Alice) and facilitated couture creations from Givenchy and Chanel that, combined, took several thousands of hours of work. In short, we’re pretty sure she’s got this.