Magazine veteran Mary Alice Stephenson has added another feather to her cap: special correspondent for “Entertainment Tonight.” The former fashion director of Harper’s Bazaar, who remains a contributor and stylist, also has three fashion shows in development for other networks. Here, via telephone from New York, Stephenson provides her take on fashion in Hollywood:
WWD: What sorts of stories will you be doing for ET?
Stephenson: As someone who’s seen the collections, I’ll be reporting on trends and fashion and what to expect on the red carpet. It’s less about who’s wearing what and more about the people who create the looks and the trends. For example, my interview with Gwen Stefani about her look in “The Aviator,” or the transition from Calvin Klein to Francisco Costa. It’s really behind-the-scenes. Next week, I’ll be in L.A. with Stella McCartney as she opens her first store there.
WWD: How does fashion in L.A. compare to New York?
Stephenson: L.A. has been way behind on the trends, but it’s not necessarily two different camps anymore.
WWD: What was your take on the Emmys?
Stephenson: I was really blown away by how spot-on these actresses were. I thought they gave last year’s Oscars a run for their money. There were less faux pas. Maybe the collaboration between L.A. and New York is finally fine-tuning itself, but these actresses are finally rising to the level of style that is New York, Paris and Milan.
WWD: What takes the most getting used to in TV land?
Stephenson: I would say that as a person who usually wears no makeup and all black, it’s the hair and makeup and wearing color. I’m trying to understand the mass of TV, but still come across with class.
WWD: Who are your TV role models?
Stephenson: Elsa Klensch, because she managed to merge fashion and TV in a sophisticated and news-driven way that was interesting and smart. From there it all went downhill. There’s a fascination with fashion in an overhyped and cheesy way. Like the makeover mania, for instance. We all love the success story, but there’s been a loss of elegance.
WWD: What do you like to watch on TV?
Stephenson: I love “Baby Special Delivery” on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, “Punk’d” and “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.” We have to do something high-fashion with one of those shows. It’s so great to see people who take themselves so seriously get made fun of.
WWD: What do the people back home in Birmingham, Mich., think?
Stephenson: My family gets excited to see me on TV, but my dad still says, ‘I never see you in a dress.’”