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           We’re in the midst of awards season, i.e. the busiest time of year for celebrity stylists. Right now they’re probably frantically scrolling though or attending countless fittings required to (hopefully) land their clients on the ‘best dressed’ list. While their role is well known to industry members, it’s a common misconception by the uninitiated public that these stars are just dressing themselves.

            The recent media focus on the inner workings of the fashion industry has helped bring some of this to light. However, most of their hard work remains strictly #BTS (behind the scenes). It’s a fascinating study for anyone who is really interested in fashion to trace the relationship between client and stylist from their first days on the scene to when (and if) they hit mega-stardom. Sometimes they create a consistent lineup of amazing looks that are stylish but reliable, and other times they are able to recreate a star’s look and a natural transformation to accompany their advancing career.

The great thing about their job (and those of us watching and documenting) is that there’s no set path of how it should, or has to, be done. When a pairing is not right it can create chaos, but when they are able to reach that balance between personality (the star’s) and high fashion (from the stylist), true moments ensue. 

            Taylor Swift has been in the spotlight for years, but recently Swift has been going through a lot of changes. She moved to New York City, she’s embracing her inner ‘single girl’, and she successfully made the crossover from country singer to pop diva. Working with her stylist of five years, Joseph Cassell, she has triumphantly mirrored those life changes through her wardrobe choices. Her former back-road country girl look frequently landed her on ‘worst dressed’ lists, but her new, mature style echoes the maturity of a strong, urban woman.

            Swift and Cassell met while they were both living in Nashville. Cassell, who has a degree in musical theater, had just started on a new career path at a wardrobe service company. He “was asked to do a basic steam and press job for a young rising country singer,” but it turned out that the stylist he was meant to be assisting had dropped the ball on the gig. Thankfully, Cassell came to rescue with some extra pieces he’d brought to set and was able to save the day- and win Swift’s approval. “He’s always two steps ahead of me with whatever I need,” Swift says. “Whether it’s a lint roller, sunglasses, or shoes… And he has a backup option and extra panels of material just to be safe!”

            One of Swift’s closest friends, Selena Gomez, is also known for her standout red carpet appearances. Gomez has been working with the same stylist, Basia Richard, since her days on The Disney Channel, an impressive fact when you consider her earlier days of jorts and graphic Tees.

            Richard, who, like Cassell, also graduated with a degree in music, highlights the importance of dressing for the occasion. When a star has many talents (singing and acting, in Gomez’s case) it’s helpful to create a distinction between your various roles. Richard says that they choose softer and more glamorous pieces for events related to her acting roles, and sexier, more grown-up options when she’s performing. 

            Though I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of her wardrobe (or lifestyle) choices, Miley Cyrus and her stylist Simone Harouche have successfully used fashion as a tool to reinvent her public image. The two have been working together for five years, creating an invaluable level of trust. Trust is tantamount on both parts when Miley goes on stage in pasties or rides a giant wrecking ball in her tidy whities.   

            Harouche, the born and bred Angelino, studied at Parsons before returning to LA to help revamp Christina Agularia’s look. She then signed on as Nicole Richie’s stylist, a position she still holds in addition to working as a consultant for Richie’s clothing line, Winter Kate, and running her own line of vintage-inspired handbags.

            Although I would love Emma Stone no matter what she was wearing (full-fledeged #Stoner over here), it would be difficult to pinpoint an outfit over the last few years where she looked less than stellar. Her stylist, Petra Flannery, has been ranked #2 on the prestigious Hollywood Reporter’s annual list of Most Powerful Stylists for the past three years in a row. Born in San Francisco and based in LA, Flannery started her career in fashion repping models at Elite agency before becoming famed stylist/costume designer, Andrea Liberman’s assistant.

            Dressing Ms. Stone for awards seasons (which she always seems to be a part of) and various press junkets is no small feat. As if that wasn’t enough, she also works with Amy Adams and Claire Danes on their red carpet styles as well as outfitting Maria Sharapova for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

             While it makes sense that Dakota and Elle Fanning would share the same stylist, Samantha McMillen, it’s especially intriguing that they would have such contrasting styles.

20-year-old Dakota, Elle’s older sister, has been around for over a decade. A child prodigy, he red carpet appearances at the very beginning consisted almost entirely of smock-fronted dresses and Mary Janes. As she developed her career and her body, she was accepted into the inner circles of the fashion industry. She is frequently photographed attending events and sitting from row at NYFW in between classes at NYU. Her off-duty look is very urban-chic, consisting of many layers in varying shades of black. At official apperances however, she trends to favor old-Hollywood silhouettes designed by her friends/collaborators The Proenza Schouler boys and the Rodarte sisters.

16-year-old Elle, on the other hand, prefers to dress her age in sportier and frothier looks from the likes of Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu. While Dakota isn’t a fan of the preparation process, “"I love Samantha and I love working with Samantha, but one of the things I most hate in life is trying on clothes, ironically", Elle loves the entire operation. “I'm very into trying on clothes, and I love putting all of the little details together," she says.

            McMillen, who was ranked #14 of the Hollywood Reporter list in 2014, began her career in public relations with designer Richard Tyler. She then became Vice President of celebrity relations for Armani’s West Coast division where she worked closely with celebrities and their stylists. In 2001 she started her own wardrobe company, Butterfly Productions, and frequently works with Johnny Depp and Evan Rachel Wood.

            It’s a hard profession to get into. Not only does it require good taste and inter personal skills (so much of getting dresses is about schmoozing PRs to lend them out to you), but you also need to be extremely organized and always prepared for an emergency situations to arise like a seam ripping or a strap breaking right before call time. 

            Some celebrities genuinely love fashion and choose to do it on their own. (Blake Lively, for example, claims to never have hired a stylist.) But the majority of celebrities aren’t fashion experts and they tend to get it wrong on occasion as we all do. Hiring a stylist is a way of helping them feel more confident.

It’s not in the job description for an actor to be well educated about fashion and thus many young actors are unsure and insecure about how they present themselves. They are their own brand and they need to sell themselves; it’s not an easy task if you’re constantly worried about looking silly or démodé.  

Many actresses would be extremely happy to allow someone else to take over the wardrobe decisions on their behalf. Stylists can help articulate what a celeb wants to project through their wardrobe. Using fashion to facilitate their intended impressions can do wonders for improving their PR or even help them land a role.  


            England has been plagued for years by their unfortunate culinary reputation. The generally accepted connotation of British cuisine is one of the heavily fried and beer-battered pub food they’ve become famous for championing. Admittedly, London has far more than it’s fair share of this particular cuisine, but the city has been evolving over the past decade to join the ranks of other culinary capitals such as Paris or New York.

            Much in the way that British fashion designers are known for their pioneering of new and creative techniques on the runway, there’s a new class of intriguing culinary talent developing their own foodie dialogues for the masses.

            The eating out crowd is much less scene-y than their counterparts in other locales (particularly New York), but that hasn’t stopped them from creating dining spaces that are just as stimulating as the food they are serving. Walking around London I am frequently tempted to grab a bite just so I can sit inside and properly take in the décor. Fortunately for my wallet and belly, there’s only so many hours in a day! Here are a few of my favorite places so far: 

33 D'Arblay Street, Soho, London W1F 8EU

Based on name alone you get a sense of the kind of the kind of hipster eatery/clientele that TBC attracts. This all-day breakfast spot opened in SoHo in 2005 and has since opened a number of other locations around London. 

As it happened, the day we went was national pancake day. To commemorate the occasion, they featured a challenge- if you can eat 12 pancakes in 12 minutes then your meal is free. The catch (well beyond the obvious challenge of eating 12 pancakes in 12 minutes) is that you only got one tiny glass of water and a small pot of syrup. I was not nearly bold enough to attempt such a feat, but two sisters sitting across from us did. They didn't make it, but they came damned close. The spectating was an experience in and of itself.

Also, be warned: even during the coldest days of the winter, the line snaked around the block. I'd recommend going as early as possible on a warm weekday! But it's worth the wait once you're inside. 

59 Sloane Avenue, London SW3 3DH

Located on an unassuming street in South Kensington, The Good Life Eatery is always filled to the brim (quite literally spilling onto the street most mornings) with posh, modely-looking types. The fact that we're all willing to endure the hassle of securing a table is a testament to the taste of their incredible healthy 'bowls,' filled with every lovely ingredient you could possibly think of.

While there's no shortage of organic-only cafes and cold pressed juiceries in London, it's nowhere near as health-food-obsessed as New York (at least in my opinion). There are still a number of places I want to try, but The Good Life Eatery is by far the best healthy option I've experienced in London.   

10 Berners Street, London W1T 3LF

Berners Tavern, located inside the buzzy Edition Hotel in Fitzrovia (just south of SoHo + Oxford Street), is certainly a place to see and be seen. The friend I was dining with joked that it would be an ideal place to go man-hunting at cocktail hour. And she was quite right, the place was filled with smart-looking businessmen and trendy waifs at lunch meetings. The food itself is reason enough to go, but the decor is really a standout here. 

139 Brick Lane, London E1 6SB

It might not be a foodie's paradise, but Cereal Killer Cafe is definitely a must see. Much like with modern art, the concept of the cafe is very 'why-didn't-I-think-of-that!' Why a place like this had never existed before is a mystery. But one thing is for sure: they found the perfect niche on Brick Lane, a section of the city infamous for it's predominantly hipster population. And hipsters love cereal, I guess, because it was packed with 20-somethings wearing sweatshirts with ironic phrases and thick-rimmed glasses I am guessing most of them didn't actually need. 

Also, you can order cereal with chocolate milk and crushed Oreos on top (or Reese's, marshmallows, bananas, blueberries, etc). I don't know about you, but that's enough to get me out of bed in the morning... or anytime of day, tbh.

How Is Harry Potter Like Fashion? (with thoughts from A$AP Rocky)

            In the interest of full disclosure, I should let you know that I am absolute geek in all areas of life when it comes to Harry Potter. I have a horrid tendency to relate every situation back to a quote or a fact from the books whenever the opportunity presents itself (and often in wildly inappropriate settings).

            In both Potter and fashion, it seems that A$AP Rocky and I have found a point of shared interest. The ‘Fashion Killa’ rapper was quoted comparing the two entities in a recent interview with Complex magazine. “Your wand chooses you, as opposed to you choosing your wand. That’s what fashion is like, man. You gotta let it take control.”

            Moving beyond the initial ridiculousness of this statement, it got me thinking. Maybe there was some validity in his words. After all, both the fashion industry and Potter universe aim to create magic, whether that magic is the literal kind or the kind that can only be achieved by capturing that perfect moment on camera. And certainly, both worlds are seemingly incomprehensible to outsiders (muggles). But moving beyond these obvious comparisons, how else is fashion like Harry Potter?

            The moment that first years arrive at Hogwarts they are filed into the great hall to take place in a sorting ceremony that will decide on their home for the duration of their schooling. When placed on his or her head, the sorting hat is able to read the mind of each student in order to place them in the house best suited to their individual qualities. There are four houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin.

While fashion moves at a quick pace and is always striving for the new and modern, there are a number of historic houses that we return to each season. The majority of young/new designers aim to be placed within these institutions to receive proper training before venturing out on their own. Which house they are placed in is based on their personal aesthetic choices and capabilities, much like the sorting process at Hogwarts.

For the bold yet elegant ladies who lunch breed there’s the house of Oscar de la Renta. For the more conceptual types we have Comme Des Garcons (Ravenclaw). For the cool, younger sister who maybe parties a little too hard there’s Alex Wang (Hufflepuff). And for the troublemaking dame with slits up-to-here, there’s of course, the house of Versace (Slytherin).

Taking on the position of the sorting hat are industry luminaries Anna Wintour, Delphine Arnault, and the late Louise Wilson. When the editor and academic put a call into the right people, jobs are created and futures are made. Lazaro Hernandez, of Proenza Schouler, once told the story of how he got his first job after writing a note to Anna Wintour on an airplane napkin and slipping it under her drink. Though Wintour didn’t acknowledge him at the time, Hernandez received an offer from Michael Kors two weeks later saying that Ms. Wintour had passed the note onto him. Alber Elbaz of Lanvin has also been quoted saying that anytime Louise would call him telling him to hire one of her recent graduates, he would do so immediately.

The room of requirement, first introduced to us in The Order of the Phoenix, has an eerily similar function as a fashion closet does during a photo shoot.  Located on the seventh floor of Hogwarts, the room of requirement is described by Dobby as “a room that a person can only enter when they have real need of it. Sometimes it is there, and sometimes it is not, but when it appears, it is always equipped for the seeker's needs"

Well, if you’ve ever worked on a photoshoot you can understand the usefulness of a room like this. How many times does someone on set suddenly decide that life isn’t worth living anymore if we don’t have “that silver cuff from that Marni show three seasons ago”?  Do you expense an urgent messenger to head to the Karla Otto offices stat? No, you can just pop into the room of requirement (options closet)! Hallelujah! The day is saved.

Correct pronunciation is crucial! Harry learned his lesson the first time he used floo powder to apparate in The Sorcerer’s Stone. Instead of going to Diagon Alley, he shouts that he wants to go to “Diagonally” and ends up in the depths of Knockturn Alley instead. Similarly, if you mispronounce the name of a designer or house, prepare to be shunned for the rest of the season.

As for the role of Dumbledore, it must be said that there are number of similaries between the Hogwards Head and Karl Lagerfeld. Like Dumbledore, he occupies a magical position in the center of our world where age is rendered meaningless.

Finally, there is the transcendent role of transformation the fashion plays in Harry Potter.  When Hermione, the bookish and fluffy-haired female lead, descends the stairs at the Yule Ball in a fancy pink gown, she manages to take everyone’s breath away. It’s the first time that we actually get a proper glimpse of how beautiful she has become. We, along with Ron in particular, finally realize that she isn’t just one of the boys but has in fact developed into a lovely – and stylish - young lady.

My fellow-Potter nerd friend and I went to the Harry Potter studio tour out on the Warner Brothers Lot in Leavesden. We felt that a selfie in the Mirror of Erised was necessary.


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Caroline Mason: 21. Native New Yorker (and one time North Carolinian). Assistant to Derek Blasberg. Just a girl who is OCD about all things fashion, drinks way too much coffee, and has an affinity for late night talk shows and travel books. FIT class of 2016. Previously with Karla Otto PR, Lori Goldstein and Lester Garcia.

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