Sunday night’s Academy Awards are perhaps the most frenzied red-carpet event of the year, famously worth thousands of dollars of publicity to the lucky brands that clothe the best-dressed of the night. But who actually decides who wears what? Not, as we all know, the celebrities themselves, who are largely dependent on the advice of personal stylists: professionals who have often decided what labels should compete for which nominees, and beyond that, what dress or tux makes the final cut.
Here is our guide to who’ll be dressing who at this weekend’s Oscars. If you’ve ever looked at a red carpet and wondered, “How did he/she end up in that?”, this is your answer.
Zoe began her career working in magazines in New York and, after becoming a stylist and moving to Los Angeles, pioneered the boho-chic style. These days, she is known for an altogether more glamorous look, and this awards season she is busy dressing faithful clients such as Jennifer Garner and Kate Hudson, as well as Oscar nominees Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence.
Her expertise is in such demand that she operates a full studio, where a team of stylists advise clients under the Rachel Zoe banner. Though her eponymous clothing line was dropped by Selfridges in September and Saks Fifth Avenue now only carries it online, other ventures include reality TV show The Rachel Zoe Project, DreamDry, a newly announced New York blow-dry bar and a daily fashion newsletter, the Zoe Report.
Formerly a reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and a stylist at the New York Times Magazine, Stewart relocated to Los Angeles from New York 12 years ago. For the Golden Globes she dressed Jessica Chastain (somewhat controversially, in Calvin Klein), Amanda Seyfried, Freida Pinto, Viola Davis and January Jones, and likens dressing so many people for one ceremony to a “military operation”, although “most of my clients are long-term, so I know what they look good in”.
For the Oscars she will be styling both Chastain, nominated for best actress for her role in Zero Dark Thirty, and Seyfried, whose movie Les Misérables is nominated for eight awards. Stewart is reluctant to name her favourite red-carpet looks but when pushed points to Cate Blanchett’s high-fashion Givenchy Couture dress at the 2011 Oscars, and Jessica Chastain’s black-and-gold Alexander McQueen gown at last year’s ceremony.
Born in New York City, Ehrlich was a professional dancer before entering fashion at 27. She started out as an assistant to fashion stylist Irene Albright before partnering with Estee Stanley and, eventually, setting up on her own. Now based in Los Angeles, she has styled many of Penélope Cruz’s red-carpet looks, including the Armani Privé grey-blue dress and diamond-wreath Chopard necklace that the star wore to the Oscars in 2011.
For the Oscars this year, Ehrlich will be dressing best supporting actress nominee Amy Adams, whom she also put in a blush-pink Marchesa gown at the Golden Globes.
New York-based Jeanann Williams worked in fashion public relations for 10 years and was about to set up her own PR company when sister-in-law Naomi Watts asked her for some fashion help. Since dressing Watts for last summer’s Venice Film Festival, Williams has put together more than 100 outfits for the actress to promote her film The Impossible, for which Watts is nominated for a best actress Oscar. While she and Watts have experimented with different silhouettes and designers during awards season, Williams hints at a “grand finale” for Sunday evening.
Jeff K Kim
At 25, Kim is one of the youngest celebrity stylists in the industry. He began his career working with New York designer Nicole Miller in the PR department, stepped in for a seamstress who failed to show up for a shoot and landed himself a job in the design department. He moved into styling when a stylist fell sick on another shoot.
Following a stint at Vs magazine, he moved to Los Angeles to help Burberry set up a studio department and began helping dress celebrities. Since setting up on his own a year ago, he has styled both men and women, including Cory Monteith of Glee and Analeigh Tipton, who starred in Crazy Stupid Love. For the Oscars, he will be dressing best actress nominee Jacki Weaver, of Silver Linings Playbook, who, aged 65 and 4ft 11in tall, is not the typical red-carpet stalwart. “It’s all about doing something that is age-appropriate ... slimming and elongating,” he says.
Australian-born Bingemann moved to London aged 19, and worked in photography and advertising before her stylist friend L’Wren Scott introduced her to Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise when they were in London filming Eyes Wide Shut (1999). After styling them, she began working for fellow Australians Naomi Watts and Hugh Jackman, as well as Gwyneth Paltrow and Uma Thurman. Based in New York and married to actor Griffin Dunne, Bingemann is working with best actor nominee Jackman for the Oscars.