While the red carpet may appear like a straight path, it’s actually something of a labyrinth—or rather, dressing for it is. Circumnavigating twists and turns, and the inscrutable taste of fans at home, can cause a celebrity to tailspin. It’s what makes a stylist indispensable and their tricks of the trade prized intel. Guiding and elevating the much-discussed looks of their clients, these creative minds are able to bypass proverbial style dead ends and help stars reach the tops of best dressed lists—and what’s more, they make it all appear effortless.
In anticipation of the most important red carpet of the year—the Oscars—we’re asking three of the biggest names in styling to offer their secrets to getting red carpet ready. Between Jenke Ahmed Tailly, Law Roach, and Jason Rembert, these image-makers have seen it all, having worked with clients such as Beyoncé, Zendaya, and Rita Ora. From how to keep a strapless dress in place, to their thoughts on going commando, to the perfect way to handle standing in heels, their guideposts for the red carpet are essential.
Jenke Ahmed Tailly, @lejenke
Clients Include: Natalia Vodianova, formerly Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian West
It’s All About Emotion on the Red Carpet
“Firstly, you’ve got to forget about the red carpet. I look at the emotion my client expresses when she first tries the look on, how she feels, the way she moves in the garment, how she is perfecting her posture, and that look on her eyes that tells you she’s loving this version of herself. She simply feels beautiful. That’s the winning detail.”
A Philosophical Approach to a Client’s Style
“First, I ask for them to come over for breakfast: It’s a great way to gain an idea of my subject’s aspiration. Then we talk about philosophy while I unroll a Proust questionnaire. It’s an efficient way to get into their skin and propose something authentic and suitable for the occasion.”
Trends Aren’t the Biggest Factor
“It’s not about trends. It’s about capturing the essence of the subject. I pay more attention to hair and beauty trends which might help make the look more modern and not obsolete.”
On Swaying Clients Away From the Wrong Piece:
“Three words: ‘It is passé’ . . . It always works.”
Keeping Strapless Pieces Up Is a Workout
“I advise clients to do 100 push-ups every day, two weeks prior to the event.”
Wearing a Naked Dress Requires the Bare Essentials
“My secret is a sur mesure lingerie couturier in Paris. Then I suggest they wear Chanel No.5: It’s the ultimate femininity enhancer.”
Skip the Insoles for a Foot Massage
“I dislike insoles because they take away from the shoe aesthetic, but I recommend to massage your feet with some shea butter from Burkina Faso with some translucent talc powder under your feet.”
How Makeup and Hair Factor In:
“We try to tell a story with hair and makeup in the most simple way. Hair stylists, makeup artists, and manicurists have the best tricks to enhance the overall looks, so it’s really a great team collaboration process. I must admit, though, that I love the ‘no makeup makeup’ look on the red carpet: It’s all about that natural glow. Nonetheless, in case it’s really needed (it happens sometimes) we go full on: absolute glamor.”
On Making the Ball Gown Your Own:
“If the look is overpowering, it’s not for you. You have to wear the dress, not the other way around.”
The Strangest Client Request:
“Lots of unthinkable things. But I’m not at liberty to reveal—I signed that damn confidentiality agreement!”
Law Roach, @luxurylaw
Clients Include: Zendaya, Céline Dion, Ariana Grande
Researching a Client From Top to Bottom
“When first working with a client, it all starts with research. I like to see everything they’ve ever worn on every carpet they’ve been on.”
The Bigger the Pull the Better:
“It depends on the girl I’m dressing and the event she’s attending, but I prefer to have a lot of options. For me, more is better.”
On Swaying Clients Away From the Wrong Piece:
“I could never give that secret away! I’m sure my clients will read this . . . ”
Advice On Keeping a Strapless Look Up?
“I don’t! With proper tailoring, there shouldn’t be any problems.”
On the Naked Dress Option
“I’m not a big fan of the ‘naked dress.’ My job is to make my clients feel confident and beautiful. I would never try to make them feel uncomfortable.”
Shoe Insoles? You Have to Just Suffer Through the Pain
“Funny thing about insoles, sometimes they make the shoe even more uncomfortable. Most often my girls, like most other women, just suffer through it.”
Flats on the Red Carpet?
On How to Exit a Car With a High Slit?
“Have your stylist or date stand in front of you when you’re exiting the car!”
Minidresses on the Red Carpet?
“How short can you go? I like short. Even a micro mini, as long as the sleeves are long.”
Clutch Essentials on the Red Carpet?
Jason Rembert, @jasonrembert
Clients Include: Rita Ora, Zayn
Whittling Down the Pull to a Magic Number
“I’m an over-puller! I think I pull the world, but I’m good at editing. I come with my favorite options—if it’s one look, there are about 15 options one rack, but my strongest 15 options.”
The One Thing All Red Carpet Looks Need?
“A tailor—the look needs to be tailored. It’s the most important thing on a red carpet. It can have no jewelry and the ugliest shoes underneath, but the look just needs to be tailored perfectly.”
Disagree With a Client on a Look? Choose Your Battles
“You have to choose your battles. If it’s for a red carpet, you’ll figure out a way [to sway them]. But if it’s street style, it’s like, ‘You know what? You’ve got this one!’ But I’m really good at getting my point across.”
On Working Runway Trends on the Red Carpet:
“It depends on what client you’re working with. Musicians usually have an aesthetic and an artistry. You would have to adapt runway clothing to whatever that artistry is. If you’re dressing someone like André 3000 or a Missy Elliott, you can’t just go to Oscar de la Renta and get a dress, or you can’t just go to Dior and get a jacket—it’s a little bit more of a thought process when getting looks. Or you’re partnering with a brand that can make custom looks that can fit their aesthetic. With an actress, you’re able to understand and follow trends, but make them your client’s own. It’s important to be on top of trends and know what’s in, but also to filter and decipher through the trends that are already happening, and figure out what the next trend is before anyone else is.”
It’s Not Always About the Brand
“It’s not always about the most expensive fabrics or the most expensive embellishments. You can wear Balmain or Marchesa Notte—diffusion lines have some amazing stuff. Jil Sander Navy’s Pre-Fall collection is breathtaking! I love Giamba; it’s a really good line. You see these actresses wearing these diffusion lines more and more because it’s actually really, really good.”
To Go Commando or Not?
“For some clients, they’re like, ‘Let’s go commando!’ I think comfort zone is the most important thing. If you have a client who is second-guessing too much skin, you have to get to some middle ground on what they would feel comfortable wearing, if it’s underwear or closing up the cut-outs and seams. Because if she goes on that carpet and she feels uncomfortable, you will see that in the pictures.”
On How to Exit a Car Gracefully:
“My clients should wait until I come around, and then get out of the car once I’ve fixed them! I think people would think I would ride to events with Rita [Ora] when she has on a big dress, but I ride with her when she has on a very revealing dress because that car shot is crazy. And also if the paparazzi are on the right side of the car, get out on the left and walk around.”
On the One Red Carpet Essential:
“Double-sided tape for sure! If something rips, you can just use double-sided tape. The one that comes in strips is like wig tape and it’s so strong!”