I'm dressing a client for a film premiere tomorrow and it's almost red carpet o'clock so my sincerest apologies for a few weeks of absence, I've been a very busy bee! Getting a celeb red carpet ready is rarely documented so I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to tell you all about how I prepare for such an event so that you can see what I've been up to.
It all starts from the minute I hear those words "I've got an event coming up..." and my mind is instantly whirring, then come the questions... Where is it, who will be there, will it be photographed, full on red carpet gown or cocktail dress? Once this is established the hunt begins, going through every appropriate designer from A to Z on Style.com. An iPad comes in very handy here - you'll find me curled up in the corner of the sofa, flicking through not only either the Autumn Winter or Spring Summer shows but also Resort and Pre Fall - this bit can take weeks. Once I've screen grabbed all the appropriate dresses its time to edit down to the ones that really jump out, I only pick dresses I really love and know will work on my client. I then go through the lengthly process of checking every dress online to see if it has been worn before, there's no point going to all the effort of getting a dress if it's already been paraded on the red carpet by someone else! I save all the dress images into a live Moodboard App on the iPad which I can edit and save for visual reference.
Once I'm confident on the dresses I want it's time to get into gear and contact PRs to borrow them. It's not as simple as just phoning or emailing, it's important to build up excellent rapport and a good working relationship with a PR, they are the gate keepers to what you need and nothing would function without them. Most PRs, even in large companies representing more than one designer, specialise in only a few designers and know the collections inside out, recalling important information on sizing or who borrowed the look at the click of a finger. Once I've emailed them asking for the desired looks it's then a wait to find out if it's a yes or a no.
There are so many factors governing whether you will be successful in getting a dress or not; it could be on a shoot with a publication, the whole collection could be in another country on a press trip or have been taken back to the designer to go into production, or the designer may feel that your client isn't right for their brand. The odds are definitely stacked against getting the dress you want so I always ask for more than I need, at least one of the dresses is usually available. This tactic doesn't always work though, if you really want a certain dress and only ask for that one dress it shows how selective you have been and PRs will do whatever they can to get it for you.
Once dresses have been confirmed you then agree with PRs on the 'Call in' and 'Returns' date; ie the date you need it and the date you'll send it back. It's good etiquette to go halves on delivery costs, the PR usually pays to get it couriered to you but you should arrange delivery back to them that is both safe and reliable, there is only one sample made and if you lose it you are liable for the cost! Your call in day should be close to when you meet your client for a 'fitting' where they try on the clothes to see what they like and what fits. I always re-edit my final selection before a fitting, usually between 10 to 15 dresses. Once the client has tried everything on they settle on 2 or 3 dresses which they love and are considering for the big event, this won't be decided by them until a few days or even hours before the event. I have been tempted at this point to send everything back, but I don't as the client can change their mind at any moment, it is ultimately up to them what they decide to wear on the day.
The next step is to accessorise. Shoes, clutches and jewellery - all are equally important. When picking jewellery I go for just one jeweller per event/ photo opportunity. I try to use a new brand to keep it exciting and fresh. I then make an appointment to go and look at and select diamonds... They literally are the icing on the cake. Depending on the value of the diamonds I'll pick 2 or 3 combinations that would work, having 2 or 3 scenarios depending on the dresses that are likely to be used. I personally love gold but tend to stick to silver, white gold or platinum settings as it's more versatile.
Once I've got a clearer idea on potential dresses I can start selecting shoes and clutches that compliment or contrast. My fav's are Louboutin, Charlotte Olympia and Sergio Rossi for shoes and Jimmy Choo, Lulu Guinness or Anya Hindmarch for clutches. I always get nude, black, gold and silver shoes as a solid base, as they go with everything, then start experimenting with coloured and patterned pairs. I make sure I have whopping great platforms as well as classic slim heels as dress lengths can vary.
You can never plan enough when styling, everything can change in the bat of an eye lid so I mock up outfits by printing off pictures of the dress, jewellery, shoes and clutches and pin them to a working mood board. It really helps to visualise the outfit and saves precious time in fittings with my client if I already know what works together. There is so much going on in my head it's vital to offload my thoughts and ideas on to something I can physically look at, touch and move - a working point of reference that I can edit.
If my client has time for another fitting before the event we pretty much decide on the entire outfit, this is either a few days before or on the morning of the event. I always plan for last minute changes and bring other options as back up. I'll take the final edit of dresses and accessories to wherever the client is getting ready, having hair, make-up and nails done (normally in their home or a hotel). I also take a clothes rail, coat hangers, clothes steamer and my styling bag which contains anything from safety pins and sewing equipment to shoe insoles and tit tape. I also arrange for the jewellery to be sent to where my client is getting ready which turns up with it's own entourage of PR, brand representative and body guard. Before I know it she's ready and out the door, it's amazing seeing weeks of hard work come together so quickly before your eyes. After packing up I head home and immediately begin packaging up everything that I called in ready to be collected the next day to go back to the PRs I borrowed items from. I'm usually knackered by this point but can't resist checking out Getty, Wireimage, online magazines, Twitter and blogs to see how the final look was received... I'm over the moon if it makes at least one best dressed list! Top image from http://www.bridalwave.tv/