Masterminding the perfect look for Hollywood celebrities comes at a price.
And with that price hovering around $8,000 a day for a well-connected stylist, is it any wonder that a new breed of actresses are opting against convention and going it alone? A few brave souls are redefining glamour as something much more personal, choosing their wardrobes based on their own tastes and sensibilities.
Click the Image to View Our Gallery of Stars Who Dress Themselves
Leading the pack is Diane Kruger, star of Inglourious Basterds, who regularly dons everything from Chanel Haute Couture to Marchesa, Jason Wu, Donna Karan, and Calvin Klein. A former model who once upon a time studied with the Royal Ballet in London, Kruger gets it right without the assistance of a stylist. She often polishes off her looks with a stellar assortment of accessories that would rightfully rival any front-row fashionista.
Sure, the Chanel Fine Jewels and Harry Winston are a mainstay in her red-carpet choices, but her tendency to mix things up by introducing the occasional necklace by Tom Binns, or clutches by Kotur, Roger Vivier and Raven Kauffman, have garnered her additional cachet. And what about her savvy knack for experimenting with color? As if fuschia pink Christian Lacroix Haute Couture at the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards didn't earn her enough praise, weeks later she topped it off with a mustard-colored Jason Wu gown at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, proving in essence that not only does she understand the importance of a good photo-op when it comes to color on the red carpet, but also that she's not afraid to work with it.
"Diane Kruger and Marion Cotillard are consistently the best dressed in Hollywood," says Arianne Phillips, whose personal styling work for Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, and Courtney Love over the past decade enabled her career to catapult into the world of costume design and has since resulted in an Academy-Award nomination for Walk the Line and more recently, a BAFTA nomination for her collaboration on Tom Ford's A Single Man.
"Both women are not only incredibly talented actresses, they're extreme beauties in the sense of them both exuding confidence and ease," Phillips says. "They're both clearly working with very sophisticated and informed taste levels in terms of style and importantly, they understand what looks good on them."
Case in point: Where Kruger champions the young American designer Jason Wu for example, Cotillard (who also works sans styliste) remains devoted to her native France and its staple LVMH-owned favorite, Christian Dior. She is, after all, the face of the brand's Lady Dior advertising.
"Marion has a handful of relationships with designers that she frequently turns to for options," says a mouthpiece for the Academy Award-winning actress. Enter: Elie Saab Haute Couture (2010 Screen Actors Guild Awards) and Jean-Paul Gaultier Haute Couture (2008 Academy Awards). Interestingly, however, she favors jewels from Chopard and somewhat more traditional clutches courtesy of Swarovski or Judith Leiber, not to mention occasional pairings of Roger Vivier or Jimmy Choo accessories.
Standing her ground alongside these leading ladies is Mad Men star January Jones, whose penchant for Gucci graphic prints (at a pre-Oscars luncheon) and geometric sequin detailing from Atelier Versace (at the 2009 Emmy Awards) have earned her a cult-like following within the fashion blogosphere. Having single-handedly cherry-picked her own awards-season wardrobe, she affirmed her status as an all-American actress with an all-encompassing eye for style after appearing in a black Lanvin gown teamed with Neil Lane diamonds and a ribbon headband at the Golden Globes.
"She definitely caught my eye" says Phillips. "January is clearly one to watch."
Unless of course you're watching with a microscopic eye.
"They all look great," says Ezra Woods, a freelance stylist who occasionally works with Chloe Sevigny. "Diane, Marion and January all clearly have good taste. Sometimes, upon closer inspection however, I notice they could have opted for a more interesting or flattering accessory, or a dress could have been altered to fit better."
“What’s happening now is that studios are cutting budgets for stylists so a lot of girls are dressing themselves,” says stylist Shirley Kurata.
Shirley Kurata, who styles Zooey Deschanel agrees.
"It's always an advantage working with a stylist because it brings an experienced eye into the mix as well as someone to take care of the right tailor, specific foundation wear, accessories, etc." she says.
"What's happening now is that studios are cutting budgets for stylists so a lot of girls are dressing themselves" says Kurata. "For someone like Diane Kruger or even Tilda Swinton, they're savvy enough to know what works, and they clearly have direct access to the designers so they're probably having actual fittings before they hit the red carpet as opposed to someone else in Hollywood working without a stylist, like Blake Lively for example."
"If the girls are fortunate enough to be friends with the designer, then of course that changes things," she adds.
An example of that is the union of Kirsten Dunst, who only occasionally works with stylists (sisters Claire and Nina Hallworth), and Rodarte. In between donning vintage Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel Haute Couture, Dunst flies the Rodarte flag more frequently than any other label. Seated in the front row of the brand's September 2009 presentation during New York Fashion Week, she wore a T-shirt imprinted with the words "J'aime Rodarte." And in an effort to return the compliment this month, SoCal designer siblings Kate and Laura Mulleavy affectionately told V magazine of its current cover girl, "Kirsten inspires us to be more creative."
Now if only more actresses could do the same.