Con­fes­sions red of a car­pet novice

BEFORE ANNA KEN­DRICK HIT THE BIG TIME, SHE “DRESSED LIKE A TEENAGER WHO LIVED IN HER CAR”. HERE, THE ACTOR RE­VEALS HOW HOL­LY­WOOD STYLISTS WORK THEIR MAGIC

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Q&A - Anna Ken­drick’s book (Si­mon & Schus­ter, $36) is out Novem­ber 15.

The Twi­light premiere [in 2008] was my first ex­pe­ri­ence with a stylist. Ac­tu­ally, he was more a friend of a friend who told me he could con­vince some less-rep­utable show­rooms he was a stylist, but he was will­ing to work for free, so the job was his! He got me three dresses: the pink one was too small, the sil­ver one made me look like the world’s sad­dest sex ro­bot, and the black one… sort of fit. We de­cided on the black one.

Af­ter the premiere, a cos­tumedesigner friend told me he’d seen a pic­ture of me in a magazine. “You looked cute, you were wear­ing this kind of kooky black dress.” Kooky? “Yeah, it had a ruf­fle around the col­lar and a kind of kooky bell sleeve.” It had a ruf­fle around the col­lar? It had sleeves? All I had no­ticed was that it was a black dress. And it fit me. And it didn’t make me look like C-3PO’S slave wife. I had thought of it as the “safe” op­tion, as a “lit­tle black dress”. Turns out some­one who knew stuff about clothes im­me­di­ately iden­ti­fied it as “ec­cen­tric”. Lucky for me, he seemed charmed by it. I’d got­ten away with “tak­ing a risk” on my first real red car­pet. Also, I was the 37th most

im­por­tant char­ac­ter in the Twi­light movies, so no one gave a sh*t any­way.

When Up In The Air was cho­sen to premiere at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, Para­mount Pic­tures hired a pro­fes­sional stylist for me. I sus­pect word had got­ten back to them that I en­joyed dress­ing like a teenager who lived in her car, and while that was spec­tac­u­larly en­dear­ing, it would be in their best in­ter­est to have some­one help me dress like an adult woman. I wanted to do what­ever I was sup­posed to do to pro­mote a movie of that cal­i­bre, and I was ex­cited about the prospect of play­ing dress-up in free clothes when­ever I got in­vited to some­thing in­stead of be­grudg­ingly spend­ing money I needed for Chi­nese take-out.

Since the movie wasn’t out yet, and to fash­ion peo­ple in­die films don’t “count”, my stylist was ef­fec­tively work­ing with some­one who had no cred­its. To be hon­est, to this day I don’t un­der­stand how styling works and I’ve given up try­ing to fig­ure it out.

The first time I went to my stylist’s house and pawed through a rack of dresses, it felt like Christ­mas. When I tried them all on, it felt more like Christ­mas with­out presents, food or al­co­hol. Her dis­tinctly un­fa­mous client was not a big sell­ing point for de­sign­ers to give up their best stuff. You can only try on so many olive-green pais­ley num­bers before you se­ri­ously con­sider cre­at­ing a dress from toi­let pa­per and bed sheets. But buried in this moun­tain of lamé and bro­cade, there was one ex­pen­sive shoes – not just dres­sy­look­ing shoes, ac­tual ex­pen­sive shoes. It turned out mag­a­zines were go­ing to de­cide how se­ri­ously to take me based on whether I wore designer shoes or shoes that looked nice but didn’t cost enough to feed a fam­ily for a month, like some kind of phoney. She came to my apart­ment with three pairs of shoes in a shop­ping bag and said we should pick one pair and she’d re­turn the rest.

“The Louboutins are pricier than the oth­ers, but it’s your first big premiere and I think they’re re­ally spe­cial.” “OK, how much are those?” “One thou­sand ninety-nine.” Dol­lars? A thou­sand dol­lars?! That’s more than my rent! Maybe you’ve no­ticed that I live with two dudes and sleep in an IKEA twin bed. Or has liv­ing in a world of lux­ury im­pru­dent, be­cause I’d have tons of money in a few months! I’m glad I was such a tight-fisted bitch, be­cause the money didn’t fol­low for about two years. In fact, Twi­light was the only thing keep­ing me above wa­ter. I’ve said in the past that with­out that se­ries I would have been evicted, and peo­ple think I’m jok­ing. Nope. Me and my Os­car nom [for Up In The Air] would have been liv­ing in my car. This is a charm­ing story now, but at the time I did not find it funny.

The shoe sit­u­a­tion, though, seemed like a nec­es­sary evil. Ap­par­ently, I was now try­ing to con­vince the world that I was a movie star, and movie stars had com­pa­nies like Louboutin beg­ging them to wear its shoes. And to pre­tend that that was hap­pen­ing, I would have to buy a pair. I paid a thou­sand dol­lars to trick peo­ple into think­ing I got free shoes.

I wore the shoes in Toronto with my awe­some and in­ex­pli­ca­ble March­esa dress. No one seemed to care one way or the other about what was on my feet, but maybe it’s one of those “you only no­tice it if it’s Aldo” kind of things. I still have those shoes. I don’t think I’ve worn them since. If they go out of style, or I join a cult that es­chews ma­te­rial goods, or if both my feet are eaten off by the army of cats I’ll even­tu­ally own, I’ll never get rid of those shoes. Yes, it’s the ul­ti­mate irony that now I can af­ford a pair of shoes like that, the de­sign­ers let me bor­row them for free. When you think about it, all these celebri­ties are bor­row­ing shoes that have been worn by some­one else before them. Like bowl­ing shoes. So the joke’s on us.

Scrappy Lit­tle No­body

STAR AP­PEAL (clock­wise from op­po­site) Anna Ken­drick at the Up In The Air premiere in March­esa and Louboutins; that “kooky” dress; with the Twi­light crew; on­stage with Justin Tim­ber­lake; with Ge­orge Clooney; pro­mot­ing Pitch Per­fect.

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