Behind the scenes: Dressing the stars; As dream jobs go, being a celebrity stylist is hard to beat - you get to shop for a living and rub shoulders with world-famous film and TV stars. Or do you just spend all day ironing clothes and massaging huge egos? Here, three top stylists reveal what the big names are really like.
Marina Ray, 34, has been a stylist for seven years. She dresses celebrities for magazines and movies and has worked with some of the world's biggest stars, including Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson.
`My first big job as an assistant stylist was for a men's magazine shoot. They said, "It's a really big star, we can't tell you who, but he's an Oscar winner." I showed up and heard them all say, "Tom this, Tom that", so I thought it was Tom Cruise. But it was actually Tom Hanks who I had always wanted to meet because we grew up in the same town in northern California.
`The producer said, "Put out the clothes, but don't talk to him." But I thought, I have to say something, so I said, "I went to John Swett Elementary and the same high school as you," and he replied, "No really? Where did you have your locker?" We had a whole high school chat. Then we ended up having lunch together. I was sitting on my own and Tom joined me. The producers went, "Tom, what are you doing?" because he was supposed to sit with the important photographer, but he said, "This girl went to the same high school as me, she knows the pond where I used to fish.'" It was nerve-racking dressing him. I had Donna Karan and Calvin Klein clothes. He's very tall so he can't wear little Italian outfits. Some stars know they need to be fixed and adjusted but he was so not fashiony that he creased everything and I was like, "Tom, take off your trousers, I have to steam them again."
`The second star I worked with was Mel Gibson, for the same magazine. I had all these shirts ready, but he'd only wear one particular white shirt, which was totally wrinkled. I have to iron everything. It takes at least 20 minutes for each shirt and I steam everything first. When men get sweaty I use a hairdryer to get rid of stains. Mel was really sexy. Short stubby legs but gorgeous. He was chatting away while I was ironing, saying, "My daughter wants to get her navel pierced and I told her, `If you do, you better not show up at our house. I'll never talk to you again.'" He was flirty and fun. I helped him put on his shirt. It's intimate and personal, touching and tucking the shirt in. But you get used to it.
`The person I was most nervous with was Michael Jordan, the basketball star, because he was so tall and much more beautiful than I imagined. I had to take out his diamond earring and I was so nervous that I dropped it and lost the back. But he said, "It's fine, I'll just get another one."
`Julianna Marguiles, on the other hand, was difficult. She's gorgeous, with the flattest stomach ever. I had a cropped top with trousers and high Manolo Blahnik shoes for her, but she wouldn't touch any of it. "I will not wear that, I look fat, I will not show my stomach," she said and insisted we got all this Prada stuff in. She has a weird perception of herself.
`I was excited about working with Jon Bon Jovi because he's so handsome. He was doing a movie with Demi Moore and everything had to be Versace, even though he was playing an ordinary guy who could never afford it. I washed a gorgeous shirt to make it look worn, and distressed a leather jacket - basically buying beautiful clothes and trashing them. Demi Moore was great, intimidating at first, but when I got to know her, she was like, "Hey girls, come in," inviting us into the trailer. I thought, "Oh my God, Demi Moore's naked and she wants me to hang out with her."
`As a stylist, I have to dress well. The rules are: something expensive, something vintage and something not quite fitting. I do a lot of personal shopping too - occasionally a star will ask me to get them something I'm wearing, and when I'm shopping I always keep an eye out. I know what a lot of the stars like, and will buy it for them, such as a red leather miniskirt that looked great on Britney Spears, or fringed boots that Jennifer Aniston adored. They pay me back, or their film company foots the bill. I found some 1920s silk camisoles for Drew Barrymore. Stars will pay thousands of dollars for something different.
`I love my job, but it can be hard dealing with celebrities. For shoots they want to know that everything is expensive, high-end stuff. But as a stylist, if I think Gap trousers are going to fit them better, I sneak a pair in. I've even been known to take out the label.'
John Scott, 40, has been a costume supervisor in the film industry for ten years. His work includes three Bond movies, Four Weddings and a Funeral and he's currently working on Tomb Raider. He is also the fashion expert on This Morning.
`Until a costume has been filmed on the actor for the first time, it's the designer's responsibility. Once it's been "established" on camera, as we say, it becomes mine. I basically make sure the right costume is on the right person in the right place at the right time, including body doubles and the stunt team.
`Before filming begins I work out how many costumes each actor needs, and how many copies. In The World is Not Enough, Pierce Brosnan only had six different looks but we had up to 20 copies of each one. In the opening chase along the Thames, for example, we had 17 identical Brioni suits, as well as 40 shirts and ties. With each take he'd get wet, so he'd change into a clean, dry suit every time.
`I arrange all the costume fittings and go along to get to know the costumes and the actor. When I first started I was told that being a good costume supervisor is 50% talent and 50% getting on with people. Actors all behave differently - some just want to get into a role, while others have a laugh and a joke. Emily Watson is fun to work with but she also needs quiet, whereas Robin Williams knows everyone's name and can impersonate everybody within two weeks. I have to be able to see the actors' needs and respond to them.
`Wardrobe, make-up and hair are first to see an actor in the morning so the director relies on us to get them in the right mood for the day. Once, it took four hours to get Teri Hatcher on set. She'd arrived from LA late one night for a costume fitting for Tomorrow Never Dies and we had a rail of every designer gown you can imagine, along with so many diamonds from David Morris jewellers that we needed security guards. She left the fitting happy but on set the next morning she kept saying that her dress was too small. She'd tried two sizes of the dress in the fitting and was convinced we'd bought the smaller size.
`Some actors get really involved in their costumes. Rhys Ifans was brilliant. He wore horrible costumes throughout Notting Hill, like that disgusting '70s polyester shirt or the grubby T-shirt. He was so into the character that he didn't wash his hair or have one bath during the whole film.
`There's often a crisis, but nothing we can't resolve. Once the director said, "Let's do the scene with him in the dressing gown," and I hadn't bought it yet. Or the time on Tomorrow Never Dies when we were filming at a Watford RAF base and I discovered Pierce's naval commander costume was two-and-a-half hours' drive away in East Anglia. I got it there in time - just.
`Once, while making Interview with the Vampire with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, we were filming a party scene in New Orleans. We were dressing the crowd in two huge marquees when it started to rain. The tents were on marshland and all the footmen had white tights and little buckled shoes on, while the women were in incredible dresses, but by the end of it they were covered in mud and soaking wet. They looked an absolute disaster, and we had think on our feet and get out the blowdryers to make them presentable. They won't hold up shooting for the costume department.
`I never get star-struck at work - I'm there to do a job. But when I was in Manchester a few years ago, I saw a friend who was working on Coronation Street. Suddenly, the cast walked in and I couldn't string two sentences together. It was the same when I met Geri Halliwell on the Spice Girls film. All I could say was, "Ooh, I really love you, I really, really love you."
`Over the last few years, because I've been doing modern films such as Bond and Notting Hill, I've been more involved in the fashion world, which led to my slot on This Morning - taking ideas from the catwalk and recreating the look from high-street stores. It's a change from my film work and I absolutely love it.'
Jennie Tate, 52, is head of the EastEnders wardrobe design team
`In EastEnders, every bit of clothing you see on screen, from Steve Owen's slick suits to Peggy's blouses, is my department's responsibility. I build up the actor's wardrobes over a period of years. I'm given a character's potted history by the script department, then I work out their clothing budget. Someone like Dot Cotton isn't going to be wearing Gucci if she's living off a pounds 50 a week pension. Dot's clothes come from Oxfam and she's had her stuff for years. I'm just working on a new character, a doctor, who's joining the cast soon. I calculated how much a doctor earns, how much they'd spend on clothes and where they'd buy them.
`Every year or so, we have a clear out and sell off some of the clothing to the crew. The wardrobe department is a big room at Elstree Studios with rows of scaffolding rails that hold all the clothes. Each character's name is tied to their rail. I think Peggy has the most clothes as she's always going off `up West' to get something new.
`At the BBC we pay for all the clothes so that we can't be accused of advertising particular brands. But we often get a discount because we buy in bulk. I might need three identical tops for Mel if she's in a scene where she gets drink spilt on her.
`The actors all react differently to their character's wardrobe. Some think a shopping trip is about buying clothes they'd like - that's the most difficult part, getting them to wear things that are right for their character.
`One person who dresses totally differently from their character is Pam St Clement, who plays Pat. Her style is quite subdued - a lot of navy, very little make-up and no big jewellery. She'd never be seen in those loud blouses or enormous earrings! Viewers often send in earrings for her, although most of them aren't nearly bad enough. Pam, like most of the cast, never laughs at the clothes, though - she takes it all quite seriously.
`The younger cast members have more new clothes. The lads, like Jack Ryder who plays Jamie, wear stuff from Firetrap, which is quite trendy. Tamzin Outhwaite, who plays Mel, has colourful and stylish clothes from Kookai and Oasis. Although she's a barmaid, she can still afford to wear nice clothes, she just doesn't have a very big wardrobe.
`Kat Slater, part of the new family that's moved in, is more fun to dress because I can go over the top with her. She's a bit of a slapper! A lot of her clothes are from Miss Selfridge. But Jessie Wallace, who plays her, looks very different off-screen - she wears jeans and a T-shirt.
`None of the actors have asked me for advice on buying clothes, but my predecessor helped Wendy Richard, who plays Pauline, find an outfit to wear to Buckingham Palace to receive her MBE.
`I have to keep an eye on continuity as well. There was once a situation where an actor was walking along the street in one top then, when he came through the door, he was wearing a different one. But the best part of the job is visualising a character then seeing them on the screen just how you'd imagined. `All the characters present a challenge. Terry's a real Burton's man - his clothes are the pits. Peggy isn't easy to shop for as she's so small, and poor Sonia hasn't had anything new for ages. Steve Owen has the most money and he wears a lot of Boss suits - Martin Kemp's a great clothes horse.
`Sometimes an actor will say, "Can I wear trousers today, because it's getting cold?" Or "Please give me some flat shoes. These heels are killing me." None of them ever want to buy any of the clothes, though. Once they're off the set, they leave their character behind. When somebody leaves we give their clothes to charity.
`My job is one long shopping trip so people think it must be fun, but not when you're doing it every day. I spend at least 15 hours a week shopping, and I have to be very careful not to blow the budget - overspending is a cardinal sin. I've also got a bad shoulder from years of lugging around heavy bags. This job has definitely put me off shopping for myself!' Jenny Cockle
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Nov 21, 2000|
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