Yesterday evening, on the highest floor of The Standard Hotel in New York City’s Meatpacking District, waitresses in matching purple dresses milled about with silver serving platters of cocktails. There was an air of celebration in the room as guests chatted between sips, pausing every now and then to grab a canapé. Models, styled head-to-toe in the best Bloomingdale’s has to offer stood on a staggered platform striking poses.
At the center of all this excitement was legendary celebrity stylist—and pioneer of the platinum trend—Kate Young, on deck to talk about the "Swash," a new clothing care system from Whirlpool. Kept in the dark until my arrival at the party, I hadn’t the faintest idea of what the product did, or why I needed one in my life. Five minutes with Kate changed all that. Read on for her scoop on the Swash—along with her go-to fixes for wardrobe malfunctions, the celebrity with her dream closet and the secret to caring for white-blonde hair. (And visit Bloomingdales.com to pre-order your Swash now. You’re going to want one, I promise.)
Tell me about this mysterious Swash! What does it do?
It’s brilliant. You open it up, and you put a piece of clothing inside—or you can put two. There’s a hanger inside, and some little tension clips. Then you put a pod in—like a Nespresso machine—and close it. In ten minutes, it’ll steam and refresh your clothing. It’s not like a floppy steaming thing, either. Your clothes feel like they’ve been to dry cleaner; they feel crisp. It takes all the wrinkles out, and any smells. It restores fit, too. So on jeans or sweaters, if the knees or elbows are out of shape, they’ll snap back. It’s made to go in your closet as well, so there’s no water that comes out of it or anything. It just plugs in!
Wow, I want one!
Me, too! Especially in Manhattan—if you don’t have a washing machine, you can put your clothes in there! You can put T-shirts in, jeans in—it’s amazing. Sequins, embroidery, vintage…no leather, though. Some silks are a little funny but for the most part, the only thing that can happen with some silk is a little water marks, but if you dry clean them, the water marks will go away. So it won’t really mess anything up.
Well, speaking of quick wardrobe fixes, ere there any good ones you can share from your experience as a stylist?
One of the most common wardrobe problems is bra straps showing, or a dress dipping down below the bra. What I do—and I think that people are afraid for some reason to do this—is just to take a needle and thread and put one stitch into the bra and clothing. You can just pull it out when you get undressed at night. It doesn’t ruin anything, and holds everything in place. It’s really easy to do! If a bra strap keeps coming out, you can just put a loop through, and pull it tight, and it’ll stay in place all night. It’s just one stitch, so it pops open—like when you buy a blazer or pants with the pockets sewed shut.
Tell me about the biggest wardrobe emergency you’ve had with a celebrity client, and how you fixed it.
One time I had a dress that was over, over-tailored and wouldn’t close. But luckily, I was able to take a piece from inside the dress and hand-sew it closed.
Can you tell me who it was?
No! [laughs] This was very early in my career, though—over ten years ago—and nothing like that ever happened again. I am so neurotic. I now have a back-up dress in my trunk—with full accessories and jewelry—at all times, and I try on the look before we start hair and makeup always, in case of emergencies. That way I’ll have like two or two and half hours to fix it. So that was like the first, most dramatic and last wardrobe malfunction on that scale I have ever had.
Well, it’s good you got it out of the way early!
Oh yeah, that’s how you get better. You mess up—once!
Exactly, then you know forever! So, your job has taken you inside the wardrobes of some incredibly stylish women—Michelle Williams, Emilia Clarke, Natalie Portman, to name a few. Which client’s closet would you most like to raid?
Everyone had different stuff that I like! There’s one client who has amazing lingerie—I’d love her lingerie collection. Then I have another client who collects vintage, and her vintage is amazing. But for day-to-day clothes that I’d just want: Miranda Kerr. Because she’s a shopper, and she had good taste.
Good choice! You know, I interviewed her a few months ago and we had a long discussion about "mom jeans." She didn’t know what they were.
[laughs] She was probably like, "Why would someone wear something unflattering?!"
Right? Although she looks good in most everything, as you know from styling her in our June/July issue. During the shoot did you notice that half our office has gone platinum?
Since it’s your hair signature, any tips for maintaining the look?
Okay, this is epic! First, you have to get the hair done regularly, because if you let the roots grow too long, you’ll get bands. The color won’t stay consistent, and you’ll have to pull the bleach through. So you’re bleaching twice, and the hair breaks. Then I really like Kerastase Masquintense, that is the best conditioner I think. Living Proof is great as well. I have a new obsession—Pantene makes a "co-wash" for colored hair. You don’t use shampoo; it’s a conditioner that washes your hair. It’s genious. You put in, and wash it out, and it’s minty and tingly feeling. You feel clean, but it doesn’t strip all the stuff out of your hair. Brillant! That’s all…oh, and purple shampoo!
Thanks! And one last question: you are always juggling so many projects and clients at once. How you balance such a busy career and still have time to enjoy your personal life?
I’m actually only working three days this week! I’m freelance, so that allows me a lot of flexibility. Sometimes I’ll work for two weeks straight, but then I take a week off. It’s not the same as if you have a job and need to go to the office everyday. You don’t get that recharge time. I tend to do things in bursts: I work really hard and then take a few days off, stay at home and hang out with my kids or go on vacation. And then I work really hard again! It’s how I function best—when things are really busy, I work really well. If I’m just a little bit busy, I’m a little bit lazy.