Image Source: Getty / Kevork Djansezian
If this have been the world B.C. — Before COVID — then we might already be within the throes of award season. The Golden Globes, which unfailingly monopolize the primary Sunday after New Year’s Day, would have already taken place. So would the Critics’ Choice Awards and the SAGs. Up subsequent: the Grammys, the BAFTAs, and eventually, to cap off the circuit, the Oscars — all crammed right into a three-month whirlwind of buffed-and-bronzed celebrities, gilded statuettes, paparazzi-filled purple carpets, customized couture, and million-dollar jewellery.
For superstar stylists, an everyday, abnormal, prepandemic award season would have meant juggling nonstop fittings with a number of purchasers who have been both presenters or nominated. And then there have been the purchasers who did nothing however go to the events — as a result of there have been so many events (preparties, viewing events, afterparties) thrown by magazines, companies, film studios, or all the above.
But this 12 months’s award season hits totally different. For starters, it hasn’t technically began but: Golden Globe nominations will not be introduced till Feb. 3, and the Oscars aren’t till April 25. And as the primary official ceremony amid an ongoing pandemic that is claimed the lives of greater than 400,000 Americans — a sobering statistic — it is more likely to really feel like a combined bag of feelings that run from somber to hopeful optimism, which is able to invariably have an effect on how celebrities select to current themselves. New York-based superstar stylist Madison Guest, whose purchasers embrace Dominique Fishback, Venus Williams, and Haskiri Velazquez, believes that extra attendees will decide to ship a joyful message by their seems.
The pandemic has inadvertently lessened the strain on celebrities to attain some legendary normal of perfection.
“I think there’s going to be less focus on trends and more on embracing personal style,” Guest mentioned. “In seasons past, everything was so political; you can get caught up in endorsements, brand partnerships — that part of the business. My hope is that people will be less afraid to wear something that feels out of the box because they’re just appreciative that they get to be there.”
Celebrity stylist Chloe Hartstein, who works with Antoni Porowski, Glenn Close, and Chris Rock, echoed that sentiment. “We’re going to see a huge range,” she mentioned. “Some will go out and wear couture, and others will be very low-key, and that’s OK. Every award season had so many events, and we were churning out so many looks for so many people. There used to be so much competition, especially for actresses, so I think the stress and the unnecessary craziness will be eliminated this season, which is a positive thing.”
The pandemic has inadvertently lessened the strain on celebrities to attain some legendary normal of perfection. (Remember purple carpet diets? How about finest dressed and worst dressed lists?) This season affords a welcome reset in that method — and with the elevated highlight on the injustices perpetrated in opposition to the Black group in 2020, the purple carpet has additionally turn into a possibility to present rising manufacturers a platform to result in significant change.
“After George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, it became evident that there were unhealed wounds that were now open again, and it allowed us to have some really tough conversations,” mentioned Zadrian Smith, who joined styling forces with Sarah Edmiston final summer time. He pointed to Inauguration Day 2021, with Vice President Kamala Harris carrying Pyer Moss, Sergio Hudson, and Christopher John Rogers, for example of style at its strongest. “Now, it’s more than a red carpet or a press junket or someone looking pretty — it’s about which brands you choose, the clients you take on, and the story behind it. It’s more of a considered process.”
It’s tough for any stylist to plan for award season or to foretell what the purple carpet will seem like in the mean time — that’s, till nominations are introduced. But for now, Guest, whose workload this award season might be significantly lighter (as a result of, no events), is banking on styling her purchasers for upcoming reveals just about — a method of working that took her months to attain any semblance of normalcy. She remembers the week that every part shut down with startling readability. She had been in Los Angeles final March to supervise fittings with a number of purchasers, and inside an hour, whereas sitting in a automotive and fielding a barrage of texts, emails, and calls, all of her jobs have been canceled. Just like that, her life, her livelihood — not in contrast to everybody else’s in America — was upended as a lot because it was suspended. For the primary six weeks, nothing occurred, other than crippling panic, anxiousness, and uncertainty.
At the top of April, Guest received her first job: her consumer Victoria Justice was going to host the Kids’ Choice Awards. But it got here with caveats: it was over Zoom and there was no styling price range, no hair and make-up price range, no outfit modifications — she was to put on garments from her closet.
“It wasn’t an official styling gig, but I was craving work — I was willing to do anything,” Guest recalled. “And with Zoom, on top of logistical aspects that we dealt with at the beginning, like spotty WiFi or being on mute, it was physically painful to have to sit there because I’m very hands-on. I’m normally constantly touching them, or pinning and clamping them, so I would find myself touching the monitor, trying to reach out and grab something. I felt like my brain would work faster than my mouth, and [the client would] be like, ‘What?'”
Lack of contact was arguably the largest hurdle that every one three stylists skilled with styling over Zoom or FaceTime, at the very least initially. Not being bodily current, dropping that human interplay, and never with the ability to gauge their purchasers’ feelings was difficult, to say the least. There was additionally the problem of samples or lack thereof, as a result of most showrooms have been closed, together with the added step of getting to ship not solely stylists’ necessities, like binder clips or double-sided tape, but additionally clothes to purchasers situated everywhere in the nation — and anticipating them to ship it again in a well timed method.
But the truth that these digital picture shoots and occasions nonetheless passed off in any respect, with the chances stacked in opposition to them, speaks to how resilient the style trade is. And it compelled these in it to fully reevaluate their method to styling. “Styling is a very excessive part of the business: if we needed one outfit, we’d have 100 options, and that still wouldn’t be enough,” mentioned Guest, who used to fret over whether or not she had pulled sufficient choices for her purchasers. “[The pandemic and styling virtually] forced all of us to step back and recognize the excess. You don’t need four racks of clothing for one outfit.”
The indisputable fact that these digital picture shoots and occasions nonetheless passed off in any respect, with the chances stacked in opposition to them, speaks to how resilient the style trade is.
When in-person fittings and shoots resumed in the summertime, albeit with safeguards in place (damaging COVID-19 take a look at outcomes, a COVID-19 compliance director, fewer assistants on set, masks on always, and so on.), Hartstein mentioned it reaffirmed her love for her job.
“What we do is magical,” Hartstein mentioned. “We get to play with beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces and jewelry, and we sometimes take it for granted because we’re so busy. Getting to do that for the first time in months reconnected me with the reason why I wanted to be a stylist in the first place.” She added: “Before COVID hit, photo shoots felt like a business transaction; now, it feels less contrived because everyone’s inspired, everyone wants to create and have fun, and it’s been really refreshing. We’re so lucky we are able to do what we do.”
When the pandemic first hit, Smith by no means believed it might be the top of style as we all know it. “Fashion is intertwined in everything,” he mentioned. “It would be impossible to erase it from the blueprint of humanity.” But for Hartstein, albeit for the briefest second, she thought styling, purple carpet style, all of it, would stop to exist. She was pondering purely from a monetary perspective: the leisure trade pours a lot cash into occasions (award season, film premieres, press excursions), but when execs discovered a technique to make cash by releasing TV reveals and flicks with out the advertising bills, then why do it? What was the return on funding?
“I was wrong,” she mentioned. “Fashion is still important because it’s a form of escapism, just like movies and TV — it makes us dream, and we need that even more when we’re going through a time of crisis.” Hartstein pointed to how Hollywood thrived even through the Great Depression for example. “Audiences love watching movies, and they love movie stars. Once things are back up and running, we’ll fall back to the system we used to have. There will always be a demand for the red carpet, and the industry will always give us that.”