For drop-dead red carpet looks, the A-list have stylist Mary Fellowes on speed dial. From glossy editorials to international runway shows, she’s worked with the biggest names, publications and designers over the course of her glittering career. Here, she chats to Emel and Aris about life as a celebrity stylist.
What clients have you worked with over the years, and who are you currently working with?
“I have dressed household names from the entertainment industry including Julianne Moore, Liv Tyler and Amy Adams, for red carpet and editorials. Currently, I’m working with actresses Phoebe Waller Bridge and Olivia Colman, Vogue Russia, and writing my first book – which is still a secret!”
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How does your process work when you take on a new client?
“If it’s an actress, I spend a lot of time working out who they want to be sartorially, who they think they are, and what they actually should be. Often these things don’t tally, so it’s my job to help them find their style voice in a way that has integrity and suits them. I go through photos of them past and present, look at their closet, their lifestyle, their tastes and cultural preferences. These things can all feed into who they are and thus how to get their wardrobe right.”
Do you prefer working with someone who is a complete blank canvas with few preferences or someone who has a defined sense of style?
“It doesn’t matter to me. Both are interesting in their own way. Someone who has a sense of style, even if it’s not my taste, is still interesting as it means they have explored their identity somehow and know what messages fashion and style give to the onlooker to enhance or play with that identity. I would still take on a client even if I really did not admire their taste or thought they were making bad style choices that were negatively impacting their success. Being open to making changes is what matters.”
Who’s been the most style-savvy client you’ve worked with?
“Tracee Ellis Ross had a very fluent language with style. She really knew a lot about fashion history and the relationship between body shape and cuts of clothes. I guess in part it comes from her previous work as a magazine editor and because she grew up seeing incredible style via her mother (singer Diana Ross). It was a very fulfilling dialogue exchanging ideas with her and making red carpet choices.”
💪Another brilliant woman I styled here last year and icon for today’s #IWD: @traceeellisross who brilliantly said of her golden globe award “This is for all the women, women of color, and colorful people whose stories, ideas, thoughts are not always considered worthy and valid and important. But I want you to know that I see you. We see you.” #goldenglobes2017 #bravo 💪💪💪💪💪#traceeellisross #advocate #change #womensrights #INTERNATIONALWOMENSDAY
Do you have an outfit or look that you’re most proud of?
“Phoebe Waller Bridge wearing black Roland Mouret to the Golden Globes in 2018. The dress was beautiful but the most important factor for me, as a feminist, was the honour in my own small way to be a part of #TimesUp.”
What up-and-coming designers are on your radar at the moment?
“Halpern in London. He makes exquisite sequinned modern disco-esque separates. I admire any designer these days that in a crowded global landscape is able to create a very niche focused product offering.”
Do you have go-to designers that you rely on season after season…?
“Prada. McQueen. I ‘grew up’ in the industry alongside Nicholas Kirkwood, Christopher Kane, Erdem and Roksanda. Most are fellow St Martins alumni, so as dear friends and kindred spirits I go back and back to them when possible as well.”
And do you ever source vintage or pieces from more unusual places?
“Yes. My first job was at Rellik, so I frequently go back there. And Vintage Modes in Pimlico. If there is budget to buy, don’t get me started on the havoc I will create at the flea market on Sundays on Melrose, or the Rose Bowl, both in Los Angeles. In fact, at least a quarter of my whole wardrobe and archive at home is probably from there.”
Can you share a fun story from a shoot you worked on?
“A very famous male model refused to board a flight to a cover shoot he was confirmed on in Turkey unless he was assured there would be an infinite supply of marijuana for him during the shoot. So I sent our producer to the local herb and spice market and told him to take a photo of whatever local herb most closely resembled it and sent that to pacify his agent, saying that it was Turkey’s strongest weed. It worked!”
What three tips for red carpet dressing can women incorporate into their everyday looks?
“1. Aim for a streamlined silhouette by using control wear like Spanx, Wacoal or Va Bien, as clothes fall so much better on the body. Even for general daywear and office activity. It brings a world of confidence to the wearer.
2. Make friends with the alterations people at your local dry cleaner and try to get your clothes tailored more. It’s affordable and even a couple of inches off a hem or an extra dart under the bust can be a game changer. Even high street pieces can benefit, often more so than designer as they are not usually cut as well.
3. Do not wear shoes that don’t fit or you can’t easily walk in. No matter how polished or glam you look, walking badly and with evident discomfort will undermine everything. Style is not just about the aesthetic but the attitude of the wearer — being breezy and unencumbered is key to that.”