Meet who the stars go to dress them for red car­pet

Stars like Gwyneth, Uma and Gemma rely on one woman for event dress­ing

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - CHAR­LIE GOWANS-EGLINTON Lon­don Daily Tele­graph

Diva mo­ments are for movies. Usu­ally, the big­ger the name, the smaller the ego.

“I can’t cook,” con­fesses El­iz­a­beth Saltz­man. “You come over and I’m go­ing to give you one meal. But I know that I can’t cook; I know what I’m good at, and I know what I’m not good at. I like peo­ple who are brave enough to say that they’re not good at some­thing, and they need some­one to help them.”

What Saltz­man is good at — re­ally good at — is styling. Set­tling in Lon­don af­ter stints as fash­ion edi­tor at Vogue (in the U.S.) and fash­ion di­rec­tor at Van­ity Fair, she now uses her con­nec­tions in Los An­ge­les and New York as a stylist to some of the world’s best known A-list ac­tresses.

Gwyneth Pal­trow, Uma Thur­man, Saoirse Ro­nan and Gemma Arter­ton all have Saltz­man to thank for their con­sis­tently high places on those peren­nial best­dressed lists. Not that such sta­tus means her clients are tricky to work with.

“Diva mo­ments are for movies. Usu­ally, the big­ger the name, the smaller the ego,” Saltz­man says. “Of course, there are mo­ments when you think: Can you please just put on the shoes? Can we please not dis­cuss this but­ton any­more, or whether the split should be this high or that high? Once I asked Gwyneth Pal­trow, ‘How many dresses do you think I’ve got­ten in for you in our life­time?’ And she said, ‘How many do you think I’ve tried on?’”

A place on best-dressed lists is the ul­ti­mate en­dorse­ment, and Saltz­man’s pinch-me mo­ment came dress­ing Pal­trow for the 2012 Os­cars — she chose a Tom Ford caped white dress.

“Know­ing what a risk that was — it didn’t have a se­quin or a pouf, it had a cape — I wrote all the worst head­lines that could pos­si­bly come. I didn’t have a backup dress, there was no other fit­ting. But that’s been re­mem­bered every year since; every Os­cars, I turn on to watch E! while we’re get­ting ev­ery­one else ready, and it al­ways comes up.”

The pres­sure of nights like the Os­cars for stylists has only in­creased since so­cial media caused what she calls “a me­teor shower of aware­ness” of the in­dus­try.

But the vis­i­bil­ity cuts both ways, and the pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting panned by the media is al­ways there.

“I’ve had mo­ments where things just haven’t worked. But that’s when you get to be re­ally cre­ative. If you stress and get into a tizzy and pull your hair out, you’re just go­ing to end up overeat­ing with your hair pulled out,” she laughs. “Whereas if you just fo­cus, there’s al­ways a dress out there.”

Red-car­pet dress­ing now is a lot more strate­gic than just choos­ing a beau­ti­ful dress for an A-list client, Saltz­man says. Given that con­tracts with beauty houses can mean huge sums of money, for both the ac­tresses and the stylists who bro­ker the deals, you can see why.

“It’s a re­ally crazy time in fash­ion, this uber-stylist mo­ment,” she says. “There were never awards for stylists be­fore — now there are. There was never no­to­ri­ety — now peo­ple want to be known. I don’t want to be known.”

Today, she has made an ex­cep­tion to dis­cuss her lat­est project — a line of em­bel­lished wedge flipflops, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Rocket Dog (rock­et­dog.co.uk).

“It all started at the Van­ity Fair Os­cars party, where ev­ery­one took off their shoes in agony by 9 p.m. I ended up buy­ing sim­ple wedgie flip-flops and cus­tomiz­ing them for my girls so that af­ter the awards cer­e­mony they could put them on un­der their long dresses to go to the af­ter-af­ter-party, with­out me think­ing they were go­ing to cut their feet on the glass or step on their dress.

“And I ended up wear­ing them, and then I ended up re­ally wear­ing them,” she laughs. “Ev­ery­one kept ask­ing me where I got them. I thought, ‘What? That’s what peo­ple are stop­ping me about at fash­ion shows?’ ”

Grow­ing up in a cre­ative house­hold (her mother was fash­ion di­rec­tor at Saks Fifth Av­enue, her fa­ther an in­te­rior de­signer) and in a time be­fore so­cial media and smart­phones, Saltz­man “would try any­thing ” when it came to clothes. “I re­mem­ber my poor fa­ther’s face some­times when he’d see me. He’d ask, ‘What’s un­der the coat?’ But in this day and age, if I had daugh­ters, I’d be like, ‘You’re not go­ing out dressed like that.’ ”

Th­ese days, Saltz­man says her style has soft­ened. “Now, I like clas­sics, with a tiny lit­tle twist.” Her ap­proach to high-stakes event dress­ing — and one every woman can fol­low — is to wear what makes you feel con­fi­dent.

Saltz­man’s learned from the A-lis­ters in that sense. “If you look at Elle Macpher­son or Uma or Gwyneth, who have in­cred­i­ble skin and legs — Elle’s over 50, the oth­ers are in their 40s — they have in­cred­i­ble bod­ies, and they work re­ally hard to achieve them.

“Five years ago, peo­ple would have said they shouldn’t be wear­ing things above their knees. But that’s just not true.”

FRAZER HAR­RI­SON/GETTY IM­AGES FOR LACMA

Gwyneth Pal­trow, wear­ing Gucci, poses for pho­tog­ra­phers at last year’s LACMA Art+Film Gala in Los An­ge­les. “If you look at Elle Macpher­son or Uma or Gwyneth, who have in­cred­i­ble skin and legs — Elle’s over 50, the oth­ers are in their 40s — they have in­cred­i­ble bod­ies, and they work re­ally hard to achieve them,” says stylist El­iz­a­beth Saltz­man. “Five years ago, peo­ple would have said they shouldn’t be wear­ing things above their knees. But that’s just not true.”

JONATHAN LEIBSON/GETTY IM­AGES/FILES

El­iz­a­beth Saltz­man and Gwyneth Pal­trow, wear­ing Gucci, at­tended the LACMA Art+Film Gala in 2015.

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