Five rising stars show off the season’s chicest trends—and share the secrets of their inspiring personal styles.
The Minimalist: Rachael Taylor
It’s not rare to encounter an actress and find her gorgeous, but in the case of Rachael Taylor, it’s not just her perfect bone structure that draws you in: It’s her personality. The day of the Lucky shoot, the Australian-born Taylor, who plays FBI agent Susie Dunn on NBC’s upcoming drama series Crisis, arrived on set—early—and declared: “I see a camera and get excited. It doesn’t feel like work!”
The other thing that gets her excited: chic, polished, perfectly tailored clothing, as evidenced by her look that day—an A.P.C. trench coat, black leather skinny pants and patent leather Valentino oxfords, which she declares her absolute favorites. “I love a manly shoe. My style is generally kind of masculine, very simple and clean—and I tend to stay away from lots of embellishment.” Case in point: Her bracelet collection consists of a single piece, a gold Cartier nail bangle she rarely takes off. But her look isn’t all tomboy. Once in a while, she loves to mix in some feminine flair. “I like a little bit of drama. I’m not afraid of a shoulder pad,” she says with a laugh.
The Risk Taker: Tao Okamoto
Before she landed a lead role in The Wolverine, a.k.a. the billion-dollar X-Men franchise’s sixth installment, out this summer, Japanese model Tao Okamoto never thought about acting. “I just always loved modeling—the people, the crazy transformations, everything,” says the New York import, whose successful career includes campaigns and runway shows for major labels like Alexander Wang and Ralph Lauren.
But when director James Mangold offered her the
part of Wolverine’s love interest, Mariko Yashida, Okamoto said yes—for one very understandable
reason: “Hugh Jackman! I’d always been the hugest fan of his. He’s the real reason I accepted the job.” Plus, she discovered, she had something in common with her character, a wealthy, isolated, sword-wielding heiress. “Mariko has a whole backstory of feeling different, which I can relate to,” says Okamoto. “Growing up in Japan, I was always the strange, too-tall girl. There weren’t even kimonos long enough for me!”
Today, the 5-foot-10-inch Okamoto enjoys experimenting with her look and finding new ways to distinguish herself from the crowd. A few years ago, this included cutting her hair into an androgynous schoolboy style. “It was really short,” she says. “I started wearing long, feminine dresses to balance out the boyish cut.” Her hair now falls past her shoulders, but Okamoto hasn’t abandoned her flowing maxis and slick minidresses, which she mixes with edgy moto boots, cropped leather jackets and drapey cardigans. “For me, it’s all about shape,” she says. “I’m drawn to things with interesting silhouettes and little surprises, like a cool cutout or strong shoulder.” She loves the sleek, architectural aesthetic of designers like Phillip Lim and the avant-garde Miharayasuhiro, both of whom she also considers good friends. “They make great clothes,” she says. “Simple, wearable pieces that still stand out.” Exactly the way, in our opinion, Okamoto does.
The Girly Girl: Kiernan Shipka
At 13, Kiernan Shipka is an accomplished actress (in addition to regular appearances on Mad Men, she stars in the forthcoming coming-of-age movie Very Good Girls), a style star who dazzles on the red carpet and a black belt in tae kwon do. At this rate, she’ll take over the world—even before she gets her driver’s license.
Q: You filmed Very Good Girls in Brooklyn, alongside Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen, who play high school grads vying for the same guy. Was being on set as fun as it sounds?
A: It was really fun! I loved everyone involved. And it was great to explore Brooklyn. I’d never been.
Q: You’ve had so many killer red-carpet moments. Where do you draw your inspiration?
A: I’ve always loved classic Old Hollywood style—Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn. They’re so elegant and glamorous. And being on Mad Men has definitely triggered something. I’m inspired just walking into the wardrobe room and seeing all the beautiful ’60s clothing and dresses.
Q: Designer Oscar de la Renta is a big favorite of yours—and the feeling seems to be mutual. How did that relationship come about?
A: When I was a bit younger, I often wore clothes from a children’s brand called Papo d’Anjo, which eventually morphed into Oscar de la Renta kids. That’s when it started. You can’t go wrong with Oscar de la Renta.
Q: Any other go-to lines?
A: Red Valentino! I love classic Valentino, but Red Valentino, with all its fun bows and crinolines, suits my style better at the moment. And Zac Posen: I’d love to wear his stuff when I get a little bit older.
Q: What are some of your more casual staples?
A: I recently bought a sleeveless navy Kenzo dress. It’s my obsession. I wear it probably four days a week. And I’ll never not love vintage clothing. A favorite piece is my long, embroidered ’70s-ish dress with a lace overlay. It’s so beautiful. I feel like it could walk a runway any day, but it was only $28.
Q: How do you relax when you’re not working?
A: I love ballet and ballroom dance. I’ve been taking lessons for a long, long time. And I’ve been doing tae kwon do for the last seven years. I tested for my black belt just over a year ago.
Q: Someday you should really do a movie about a tae kwon do master/ballerina.
A: I would love to do a tae kwon do ballerina movie! Maybe it could be a musical too.
The Jet-Setter: Chanel Iman
Chanel Iman is not one for packing lightly. “My suitcase is crazy,” she says. “Every time I go to the airport, people are shocked by how big my suitcase is. I can’t help it!” Given how in demand she is, New York–based Iman spends a lot of time with that oversize bag, jetting from the runways of Paris and Milan to photo shoots in Brazil and Jamaica (she’s worked with major brands ranging from Victoria’s Secret to Bottega Veneta and DKNY) to visits with her family in her hometown of Los Angeles. And she manages to attend some of the world’s most glamorous events along the way.
Her most recent adventure, a six-week whirlwind European tour, included stops at the Cannes Film Festival, the Grand Prix in Monaco, the Biennale in Venice, a quick stint in London and, finally, a few days relaxing in Paris. “I brought along leather pants, jeans, hoodies, tennis shoes and heels. And dresses!” she says. “Loads of dresses, since I have so many events and dinners.” And though Iman admits that travel is a major job perk, there’s nothing she loves more than the return home. “I can’t be too long without New York,” says the 22-year-old, who moved to Manhattan as a teenager to launch her modeling career. “It’s a very special place for me—the restaurants, the parks, even the muggy summers. I miss it all when I’m away.”
When staying local, she tends to dress in one of two modes: off-duty, which means skinny jeans, a hoodie, a snap-back baseball cap and pair of sneakers (her massive collection takes up an entire closet); or work. “I keep things very simple and chic for meetings and go-sees,” she says. “I’ll do an all-black outfit with my high-heeled Jimmy Choo boots and a leather jacket. And a nice bag, of course.” She especially favors styles from Chanel, the French designer she’s named after (fashion is clearly in her DNA: Her mom once owned a clothing boutique in Culver City). “My first big designer splurge was a pair of basic Chanel heels I bought during my first-ever visit to Paris,” she says. “It was like a dream—being in Paris and walking into the Chanel store. It’s just the most classic label. I’d think so even if it weren’t for my name!”
The Chameleon: Jessica Paré
For even the most casual of Mad Men watchers, it’s impossible not to have a massive crush on Jessica Paré, who portrays the impossibly sexy-cool ’60s wife/soap star Megan Draper. And as it turns out, the Montreal-born, L.A.-based actress is just as charming (and stylish!) in real life.
Q: Is it true that when you were first cast on Mad Men, you weren’t aware your character was slated to become the next Mrs. Don Draper?
A: Completely! I really had no idea until right before filming the engagement episode. We were shooting the end of season four, but I hadn’t received the last script yet. I was in my dressing room when our prop master came in to measure me for a ring.
Q: That’s so crazy—did you freak out?
A: Well, I was very sensitive to the fact that things are never set in stone on Mad Men. So I didn’t believe it until Matt [Weiner, the show’s creator] called me to confirm it was indeed happening.
Q: Megan is one of the show’s more progressive characters, and her clothes are always glam and slightly daring. Do you have any favorite wardrobe moments?
A: There was a gold lamé dress I wore this season, in the advertising awards gala scene. It was a vintage find, but our costumer, Janie Bryant, added some sleeves, and we did big hair and tons of eyelashes. It was heavy-duty but so much fun.
Q: Has the ’60s aesthetic trickled into your own personal style?
A: I really, really like a retro influence. And I especially love styles from the early ’60s, like a classic shift dress, which is extremely flattering and very feminine. But I also like to mix it up and go for pieces with a bit more edge.
Q: What’s your go-to outfit of the moment?
A: It really depends on how I’m feeling. I gravitate toward classic pieces with a European feel. And I love heels—never ever flats.
Q: You don’t ever wear flats?!
A: I rarely do! I just haven’t been into them lately, especially when I’m going out. If I have an event, I like to say that if I can walk or breathe comfortably, there’s something wrong.