Karla Welch, Elizabeth Stewart, Ilaria Urbinati

In the second of two bicoastal panels organized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and The Wall Group, celebrity stylists Elizabeth Stewart, Karla Welch and Ilaria Urbinati convened at the W Hollywood in Los Angeles on Monday for the panel “Today’s Image Makers: The Relationship Between Stylist and Designer.”

Moderated by Melissa Magsaysay, the panel explored the changing role of the celebrity stylist, and how they work with myriad designers hoping to get their clothes and accessories on stars on the red carpet.

“We’re really like mini magazines now,” said Stewart, who started her career as a fashion editor at Fairchild Publications and The New York Times. “My assistants do what a market editor would do at a magazine, and we are creating content when we create looks for our clients.”

What used to be a behind-the-scenes job has morphed into one where the stylist, via social media, shares behind-the-curtain glimpses of readying clients for the red carpet, as well as his or her point of view on everything from fashion to politics.

“Would you ever dress Melania Trump?” asked one person in the audience. “No. Absolutely not,” said Welch and Stewart. “She buys her own clothes,” said Stewart.

The women also discussed the best ways for designers to reach them. “If you send me an e-mail with a PDF that has pictures and information, that’s the best way. No Dropbox links. And I need to be able to see the clothes. No artistic look books,” said Urbinati.

All three stylists stressed the amount of product and the lack of time, so cutting to the chase was key. “We’d love to be able to have lunches and teas with designers, but in reality we don’t have time,” said Welch, who often discovers new lines via Instagram and direct messages designers.

They also cautioned against designers being too choosy or having unrealistic expectations when it comes to connecting with A-list actors. “Trust us, it pays to start relationships with up-and-comers because one day they will be famous,” said Stewart. She suggested that new designers “let a piece live in my showroom for a while. It will find the right home.”

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