When The Hollywood Reporter released its annual list of the fashion industry’s most powerful stylists back in March, Leslie Fremar was ranked at number one. She may not have a reality TV series or billion-dollar fashion label to her name, but she does dress some of the entertainment sphere’s most sought-after stars—ever heard of Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson or Reese Witherspoon? Over the course of her career, which actually began in editorial at Vogue, Fremar’s forged incredibly strong relationships with the industry’s top designers—in fact, it was on one of her longtime clients, Julianne Moore, that Raf Simons’ inaugural collection for Dior made its red carpet debut.
But despite working in an undeniably glamorous world in which she handles thousand-dollar gowns daily, Fremar also appreciates a good deal–as evident by her new role as a consultant for T.J. Maxx. I sat down with the star stylist to discuss what goes into dressing her clientele for weeks-long press tours, her favorite red carpet moment ever, how she recommends dividing up one’s spring shopping budget and why she’s ready to see the peplum go bye-bye. Read on!
Lucky: Most people associate celebrity stylists with awards show season—but actually, dressing stars for a multi-city press tour actually sounds far more challenging part of your day-to-day job. Walk me through how you prep for one of those.
Leslie Fremar: So for a press tour, we’ll first go through a client’s schedule to find out everything they’re doing. Usually there are talk shows in both the morning and the evening, plus premieres—so we have to take into account all the different types of clothing they’ll need. Then we start sourcing the market, going through all the shows, going on appointments with designers and pulling everything we might need for a fitting to make sure we’re covered in terms of casual clothes, cocktail attire and things that are a little more evening, all based on their schedule. Once we’re set and have everything, we set up a fitting. That’s when we have them try on all the different clothes to find something suitable for every event. For a premiere, we’ll try on many different options, take pictures—and sometimes we have to sleep on it and come back to it the next day. Once we’ve decided on the look, we move on to the accessories. Sometimes we decide on accessories during the fitting, and sometimes it’s after the fact. We source all the jewelry, all the shoes and bags. And then on the day of the event, we’ll go and meet with hair and makeup, make sure all the clothes have been tailored, and then it’s done! It’s a lot of work. Every single look is tailored, and it takes a lot of time to prep for one of those big promotional circuits.
Do you have to pack any extra looks…you know, just in case?
Oh, definitely. Especially if I’m not traveling with someone, we’ll definitely pack additional looks. And everything has a picture that shows how it all goes together, so it’s foolproof!
What are some of your current favorite spring and summer trends?
It’s interesting—T.J. Maxx involved me in this self-expression study they did, and it’s interesting what we found: that women aren’t necessarily that driven by trends. In my day-to-day world, I’m very aware of trends, but when I bring it back to my clients we’re not that trend-focused. Often, the decision [to wear something] is based on what you feel good in. We’re seeing a lot of black and whites, graphic patterns, sheer paneling…a lot of pastels, polka dots, stripes. It’s important for people to know that they don’t have to follow all the trends, though—it’s about what makes you feel comfortable, what works for you. T.J. Maxx stores offer "in the moment"-type shopping, as opposed to other stores where you’re shopping for things in advance. I find that so helpful, because so much of the time it’ll be 100 degrees out and you’ll go shopping and all you’ll find are fall clothes!
Are there any designers you turn to time and time again for big-deal events?
The way that I work, I try to find designers that have a perspective that makes sense with my client. Not every designer works with every client. You know, maybe what Raf Simons is doing at Dior is really beautiful for so-and-so, but Dolce & Gabbana could be really beautifully suited for someone else. Even though I have personal favorite designers for myself, that’s not my train of thought when I’m thinking about what’ll work for a client. I’ll never call in a look thinking, "Someone has to wear this." And sometimes what you pull doesn’t work out after all, and you’re heartbroken, thinking, "That was my favorite look from the entire season!" But that’s important for women to remember: not everything has to work on you, and it’s important to sometimes not focus on trends or on a specific label.
That’s funny, because I feel like people assume that stylists are super-loyal to specific designers.
I think a lot of people get caught up in trying to be part of a brand. They want to be associated with their marketing—and that makes sense, but it never really works out unless it’s a natural fit. I mean, if you’re really into rock ‘n’ roll, that’s your vibe and the type of music you listen to, then sometimes you’ll be like, "Wow, I’ve found a designer that encompasses me!" But that doesn’t usually happen. It’s usually more of a mix.
I know it’s hard to choose, but can you remember one red carpet moment you were responsible for that you’re still incredibly proud of?
Last year, Charlize wore this pink Dior dress to the Golden Globes [pictured at right] and we worked with Cartier and got to pick jewelry from their own museum. They had these women—experts!—come with all these pieces and explain to us when they were from. That type of access doesnt happen often, and it doesn’t happen for everyone, so to be involved in a moment like that was pretty special. I was trying to get Charlize really excited about it, because I was like, "I don’t think you appreciate the fact that you get to wear these!" And she was like, "They’re beautiful!" But I was like, "You don’t understand—it’s like having a Picasso on your wrist!" That was a proud moment for me. People think of her as a strong beauty, and it was really nice to make her soft and pretty—and it was something we decided. I liked seeing her in that light.
I feel like most people thought she was the best dressed star that whole night. But what about when your work gets criticized?
But it’s really harsh when critics attack something you do. It’s very easy to criticize when you’re not involved in something, when you don’t know how much work went into it. It’s easy to say, "Oh, i don’t like that!" But you have to try not to listen.
As someone who dresses her clients in museum-quality pieces but is now involved with T.J. Maxx, you work with clothing at lots of different price points. What sort of wardrobe pieces would you say are worth splurging on—and which should you spend a bit less on?
In terms of dividing my budget when I shop, I usually spend more money on classic pieces, things that’ll live in my closet for longer—like a great pair of black pants or a white button-down that fits really well. Try not to spend as much money on the trendy pieces, things that next season you’ll look at like, "What was I thinking?" If you are looking to be on trend, invest in a bag or a shoe and keep your clothes a little more classic. I can be wearing a black crewneck sweater and a black pair of jeans—and with the right shoes or a great bag, that black canvas can be transformed.
Lastly, are there any trends out there that you’re completely sick of at this point?
I think I killed the peplum—I’ve done it so many times! I don’t know what happens—if there’s someone in the industry, a production person who says, "Oh, so-and-so is doing peplums" and then they’re everywhere—even as an insider, I don’t know how everyone comes out doing the exact same thing, choosing the same colors. But I would be OK if the peplum went away for a while.
More on Luckymag.com:
- Star Stylist Leslie Fremar’s Five Spring Essentials
- Rachel Zoe Knocked Down From Her No. 1 Perch on THR‘s Most Powerful Stylists List
- EXCLUSIVE: Madewell’s Fall 2013 Lookbook Is a Street Style Photographer’s Dream
- Cannes Film Festival 2013: The Best Looks and How to Get Them
- Here’s What Our Favorite Stars Wore On Memorial Day
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