Those responsible for creating memorable red carpet gowns, onscreen fashion moments, and most-copied hair and makeup trends came together on Thursday for Variety and WWD’s Inaugural Stylemakers event at Smashbox Studios. From the white carpet to the green room to the stage, the seven honorees and their star presenters shared personal moments and anecdotes about their collaborations.
Viola Davis started the event, presenting Elizabeth Stewart as Stylist of the Year. “She knows how to create that moment when you can be on the red carpet and still be very much yourself,” Davis said. “I’m always surprised by her willingness to dive into a new style, her fearlessness about not caring what critics say, her not making me feel like I have to be like every one of her other clients. Style is not something you wear; beauty is not makeup. It’s doing something that enhances you and whenever someone does that, that is a real achievement. Especially in a place that can sometimes feel a little manufactured.”
While she said it’s daunting to follow a Davis speech, Stewart said, “I’m actually used to seeing Viola win awards, not give them to me, but what the hell, I’ll take it!”
Next, Kerry Washington introduced Lyn Paolo, costume designer for “Scandal.” “I don’t get to fangirl over her very often, so I’m going to gush,” she said. “She took my actor instincts and exploded them through clothes and accessories. She made me figure out this character. This is a woman who takes clothes seriously,” Washington said.
Not surprisingly, Paolo, like most of the honorees, preferred being behind the scenes to in the spotlight, so the acceptance speeches were short and sweet.
Smashbox cofounder Davis Factor, who presented the Smashbox Visual Impact honor to his friend and mentor Matthew Rolston, said he was fortunate to learn from Rolston’s lighting techniques and art direction.
Said Rolston, “They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I’d say it’s worth about a thousand bucks, give or take. If I could show you a picture of how I feel now, it would probably be towering cloud castles in a perfect blue sky.”
Katie Holmes, who presented Designer of the Year to Zac Posen, called his shows “a perfect piece of theater.” “His curiosity, passion and gratitude for all art forms makes collaborating with him a one-of-a-kind experience,” she said. Later, she added that she couldn’t wait to unzip the sparkly sample she was wearing, flattering as it was.
Proving that they are indeed close pals, Kourtney Kardashian accompanied Jen Atkin onstage to calm her nerves. “I’m lucky enough to see her almost every morning, whether she is doing my hair or one of my sisters,” Kardashian said. “She can fit in a kid’s haircut, a couple of little girl braids, all while Snapchatting, doing a photoshoot for Instagram and telling jokes.” Atkin called Kardashian the sister “who gets me the most likes on Instagram” before marveling at having gone from aspiring to work in a strip mall beauty salon to styling runway shows in Paris.
Makeup Artist of the Year Lisa Eldridge still relates to small-town women, as Kelsey Grammer pointed out. “I first became acquainted with Lisa because my wife watches her how-to videos online. She has invited women of all walks of life to be a part of this world of glamour and style,” he said.
Said Eldridge, “I can be on the red carpet one day and replying to a nurse in Cincinnati the next day and I get a massive kick out of that.”
Finally, Stewart presented the last honor for Style Innovator to Freida Pinto, who said of Stewart and her team, “They don’t work on me, they work with me. Sometimes I’m jet-lagged or just plain sad and they just know how to dress me so I don’t feel forced or wearing something to please the fashion community. I think that’s very important — it has to be about you and nobody else.”