What Are Stylists in Lockdown Doing?

The fashion industry, like many others, has learnt to adapt over the last few months: photoshoots are being done over FaceTime, brands are shooting without models. The fashion stylist is typically the middle-man, bringing the clothes to the client, but how does the middle-man operate in these times?

Photo Credit: SheerLuxe

A celebrity stylist, put simply, curates the looks of your favourite stars for public appearances. The role involves consultation with their clients, and liaising with designers and showrooms to choose between different pieces. It’s a role that inherently requires face-to-face communication, especially when the outcome of their work is usually worn at red carpets or public events, which we likely won’t have in the foreseeable future. The typical duties of a celebrity stylist, therefore, have been transformed.

The jet-setter status of those who work in the entertainment industry is now on hold, with many events that take place around this time of year being cancelled – the annual Met Gala, Cannes Film Festival, South by Southwest, to name a few. Back-to-back bookings are suddenly cancelled, with some stylists saying they have lost around six weeks of work due to cancellations, with no idea when work will resume again. Although worsened by current conditions, styling has always been contingent on jobs and events – it is essentially “gig work.” While celebrity stylists are staying afloat due to their client having virtual gigs, some up-and-coming stylists might not be so lucky. 

The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most iconic red carpet events in the fashion calendar, but was cancelled this year. Photo Credit: net-a-porter

Many stylists are therefore turning to “virtual styling,” which involves consults over FaceTime, liaising with designers on social media and using online retailers to deliver pieces. Some stylists will style the outfits on herself and send the photos to the client. During this time, many stylists are offering their services beyond their famous clientele – you can now book a virtual consult with a celebrity stylist for $150. Some of the celebrity stylists offering these services are Julia von Boehm, Nicole Kidman’s red-carpet stylist, and Allison Bornstein, Katie Holmes’ stylist. These sessions will focus on revamping your wardrobe and making the best use of what you have – perfect for those whose wardrobe is full of stuff they don’t know how to style. Although the costs seem hefty, a lot of these stylists are actually donating a portions of the costs to charities that are helping those hit by COVID-19.

A virtual styling session in action. Source: Vogue

The future of work for a celebrity stylist, and the entertainment industry in general, is unknown. It seems like there won’t be a return to red carpets and lavish parties for a while, not only for health safety purposes but also due to a change in what we value as a society. As celebrity stylist Alicia Lombardini says, “the idea of glam right now seems somewhat out of touch when people are fighting for their lives,” suggesting that people might not want to fawn over extravagant dresses for a while. Lombardini also says that her clients in virtual consults are more sustainability-oriented, looking to support small businesses or make use of what they already have.

Celebrity fashion has always been something of a spectacle, but this may change once we emerge from a pandemic, with many questions to be asked about the fate of occupations such as the celebrity stylist.

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