The 86th Academy Awards are on Sunday (March 2), and all eyes are going to be on the red carpet. Or, more accurately, the stars walking the red carpet.
From nominees to presenters to audience members, all the stars will be scrutinized for what they’re wearing and how they’re wearing it. And that’s where the brains behind all their looks come in: Their trusted stylists.
Zap2it caught up with stylist-to-the-stars Anita Patrickson — who has styled celebrities like Emma Watson on her final “Harry Potter” movie press tour, “Modern Family” actress Sarah Hyland, “Scandal” star Darby Stanchfield, and many more — to learn all about how she gets her clients red-carpet ready and what happens when her work ends up on a Best Dressed (or, oops, Worst Dressed) list. Check out our Q&A with Patrickson below:
Zap2it: So what goes in to styling a celebrity for a major red carpet event like the Oscars?
Anita Patrickson: There’s a couple ways you can approach styling a client. You can design a custom gown with designers. Or if you’ve been at fashion week and you see couple of dresses you like, often stylists go to a show and see a look and fall in love with it, and you kind of pencil it in for a client. Like, “Oh my God, so-and-so has to wear that for the Oscars.” It’s really just a matter of speaking with the client and coming out with a plan. Often they don’t really know what they want or what they’re looking for, so it’s really just a matter of pulling a lot of things and going to all the designers and trying a lot of different things. And sometimes, designers don’t want to work with a particular client because a lot of designers are specific as to which celebrity they work with and what would work with such a specific client’s body shape. You figure out who fits in really well with whom. You request everything and everything gets in and when options are on your doorstep just in time for fitting, the client starts trying on. Then it’s just a trial-and-error, picking what works best.
Do you work with clients for one-off events, or do you have clients that you’re constantly styling?
Every stylist has their clients, and every celebrity has their stylist, if that makes sense. You have this ongoing story and this ongoing dialogue. It just makes life a lot easier because you can create this look for them, a porfolio of their red-carpet style. You know what they’ll like and what works for them. Some stylists just work with guys, some stylists just work with girls, some are music-focused, LA stylists have a healthy mix. It all just depends on what that particular stylist likes doing.
So tell me about your focus.
I like mixing it up. I feel like editorial bleeds into red carpet, and red carpet leads to campaigns, so it all connects and I get inspired by each one. I have my clients that I love and that I dress all the time. I also do campaigns, like I do a lot of things for The CW. I do billboards for shows like “The Vampire Diaries” and “Hart of Dixie.” And for red carpets I like to mix it up between guys and girls.
One of your clients, Sarah Hyland, ended up on our SAG Awards Best Dressed list. Why did you choose the pale pink Pamella Roland gown for her to wear?
We wanted to go with something cleaner and fresher and find something that more simple and really show it off. We didn’t want to get caught up with crazy jewelry or complicated hair, we just wanted to go back to basics. I absolutely love pale pink, that’s an in color this season so that was a fun little box to check. She also really wanted to wear a mullet dress which is what we’ve been calling the high-low hem. So we found this and it was a perfect fit, really. It was really comfortable and she was able to have a fun night in it. So it was really a great choice, and the SAGS are less formal than the Golden Globes or Oscars, so it was a good in-betweener.
What does it feel like seeing your work recognized on a Best Dressed list?
Aww, it’s so special. I mean, at the end of the day, when I started off, I used to be completely wrapped up and fixated on Best Dressed, Worst Dressed, and the more I got into it, the more I managed to grow up doing this, you kind of let go of all of that. I mean it’s really special and really fun seeing it on a Best Dressed list and seeing that somebody else really enjoyed the process that you’ve gone through. But ultimately it’s so subjective, you know? No one’s going to like everything you do. So I try to be more pragmatic about it and not be quite so dramatic about it, but it’s really awesome seeing that what you wanted to get across was appreciated. It’s really special.
On the flip side of that, have you ever seen your work land on a Worst Dressed list?
Yes! Of course. Only once, that did happen.
Oof, that must not have felt all that great.
I felt terrible. And honestly, the funny thing was, it was on a weekly magazine and I felt so awful. I was like “Oh my God.” I felt bad for my client and not for me, you know? And then of course a week later it popped up on a Best Dressed list in Vanity Fair! You can’t win them all but everyone has a different kind of focus or an idea about things. It was a great lesson for that. You just follow what you think is right and hopefully everyone is comfortable enough to be enjoying themselves and having a good time. At the end of the day it’s just fashion, it’s supposed to be fun and to be a good conversation-starter and not to take things too seriously.
The Oscars are almost here. Did you style anyone walking the red carpet?
Actually, one of my clients is nominated — Julie Delpy. It’s very exciting. She’s French, and a character actress, so she’s been very fun to work with. She’s not your typical Hollywood fashionista, she’s got a great personality. It’s been a great process.
We can’t wait to see the final product on the red carpet on Sunday (March 2)!
Thank you, me too!