I never would have thought I’d say this one day, but I guess there’s a time for everything…
For my recent trip to Cannes, I hired a stylist.
I know, so weird.
I was invited to the Cannes Film Festival by L’Oréal Paris, and I quickly learned that my trip would involve walking the red carpet twice. Oooof. Red carpet? Photos? Clothes? Argh.
My agent, Delphine, who I’ve been working with for years, and who’s seen me struggle with red carpet outfits more than once, said to me:
“Just get a stylist! I work with Sarah Slutsky, who works with Emma Watson – she’s great, I’ll organize a lunch for you two, don’t say no – you’ll meet her and we’ll see.”
The thing is, I’m the one who used to say: “Pffff, actresses can’t take any credit, it’s not really their style – they all have stylists!!!”
But that was then. Before I realized how much work it was to actually get dressed for the red carpet…
1/ When you’re not a size zero, the size you need to be for fashion houses to be willing to kindly lend you a dress.
2/ When you don’t have hours to spend scouring style.com for an outfit. And the jewelry to go with it. And the shoes.
3/ When you don’t have hours to spend calling, borrowing, receiving, sorting, and organizing the pile of outfits you’re going to have to try on to find one that works. Yes, it is a job.
And I’m not even close to being scrutinized to the point of someone like Julianne Moore or Charlize Theron (or Sophie Marceau hahaha). So, sorry, dear actresses. I so get it now.
But no matter what I do*, no matter what I allow myself to**, what I think*** or what I imagine****, I’ve been to plenty of galas and red carpets without the help of a stylist, and honestly it was not fun at all.
Let’s just say I’m fairly good at daytime outfits, but evenings and galas just really aren’t my thing.
[Diane Kruger side note: Apparently Diane Kruger chooses her own outfits. And she has one of the best styles on the red carpet. And she’s a great actress, with a fantastic career, and I have the impression she’s a really nice person, and her boyfriend seems AMAZING, and obviously, she’s gorgeous. I don’t know, i don’t knooooow…]
So anyway, the lunch gets scheduled, I meet Sarah, and we click. I like her right away – she’s very sweet, and she’s not your typical stylist (she also works with new technologies – I’ll tell you more about that soon – it’s interesting), and she’s also very brave, since she didn’t raise an eyebrow when I made my announcement : I’m not Emma Watson. Like she didn’t already know, haha.
And she took the information very graciously.
She’s not a fashion victim, she’s not condescending, and I liked her right away.
[Condescending side note: not complaining, but working in fashion with a normal body means you often hear things like: “Your body is beautiful, you look like a real woman! You should celebrate it!” Translation: “She’s obese. Someone help!” You have to be strong to resist the pressure to be skinny when you’re in fashion.]
In spite of it all, I still hesitate. I’m very resistant. Even though going to see a psychologist is no harder for me than going to get my nails done, having someone help me dress seems like something out of a world I’m not a part of.
Hmm, maybe I should see a shrink to discuss my stylist issues :)
Long story short, Sarah and I start working. I send her a Pinterest board with all the things I like, and she responds with a Pinterest board of all the things she has in mind for me, and a few days later, like magic, there are about fifty dresses outfits, shoes, and rivers of diamonds (ok, I’m exaggerating a little) that materialize right before my eyes at the Studio.
Le travail de pro ;)
Obviously, it freaks me out to try anything on. I imagine the scene. Sarah trying to get me to fit into dresses that are too small for me, me excusing myself for being me. Sarah deciding to break up with me right there, saying: “Garance, this just won’t work. 10 days of juice fasting or I’m out.”
But oh well, you got to do what you got to do. Be brave. I call all the angels of confidence I can think of, Kim Kardashian included.
I put on the first dress, and it zips up without a problem. WHAT? Yep. Sarah actually found dresses for me that were not size zero. Wow, cool. So I keep trying them on. Delphine is there. Emily is there. Some of them don’t look very good on me at all, and it’s interesting, because I can see Sarah learning and understanding what is most flattering for my body. It’s like revelation exercise.
We set aside a few options – and then suddenly, I try on a long, black dress, and I see Delphine’s eyes light up: “Wooooooow!!!”
It’s a black Jill Stuart dress that I never would have imagined I could wear. That’s also part of the work of being a stylist. Questioning what a person thinks about themselves and pushing them toward a new perspective.
[Working world side note: This all sounds magical said like that. But to get to this point, Sarah scoured ALL the shows on style.com(can you imagine?) and then she spent hours with fashion houses to see what they had and what they could lend us (in my size) and then she (and her assistant) spent hours going to pick up pounds and pounds of packages. Being a stylist is serious work – it’s not easy at all.]
Anyway, enough details. I try on a second outfit with a great Rosie Assoulin skirt, Sarah shows me all the tips and tricks of a real stylist for stars, from wearing Spanks to getting your clothes tailored to widening your shoes to be more comfortable to fashion tape (scotch tape for clothes) – and I say wow, I think Sarah’s really going to make something of me!
A few days later, we have an appointment with a seamstress who tailors everything perfectly, bringing things in where needed, and loosening in all the right places.
Then we try on jewelry, perfectly selected to go with my outfits. It’s beautiful!!!
So I have my two outfits, plus a few daytime options because Sarah isn’t the type to let me leave without having everything planned out. She even tells me she’s going to make me some PDFs so I’ll remember everything, and that’s when I look at her like she’s an alien: “do you think I’m completely out of it?”
A few days later, 5 minutes before I’m supposed to go to the red carpet, all made up like a star thanks to L’Oréal, with my hair done like a star thanks to Jacques Dessange, sweating and totally stressed out trying to remember what goes with what and how, I find myself scrolling through Sarah’s PDFs like my life depends on it.
So I have official proof that yes, I’m completely out of it.
And once again, Sarah knows exactly what she’s doing.
Cannes goes fantastically well. I mean, as well as Cannes can go. As you saw in the Pardon My French we filmed there a few years ago, going to Cannes is a look behind the scenes, and behind the scenes is… well, it’s a post I’ll have to save for next time.
In the meantime, I walked up some stairs with a red carpet on it, and I was dressed.
That’s what counts, right?
In general, I tell myself I’ll figure it out on my own, I wait until the last minute, and then don’t find anything.
** I’m not going to do a whole therapist session for you (well, maybe I will in an upcoming post) but there are certain things that are ingrained in us and for me, getting a stylist is engraved in the category: “but Garance, who do you think you are!? You’re not actually going to get a stylist!” But for that, my agent, Delphine, and Emily, who works with me, are great. They pushed me to go for it!
*** I think dressing yourself shouldn’t be such a hassle. I fantasize about what Cannes was like in the 60s and 70s.
**** I always imagine I’m going to pull the perfect outfit out of my magic hat at the last minute, and it never happens. Never!
All photos taken by Erik Melvin.
Translated by Andrea Perdue.