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
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