This is what it takes to get a celebrity red carpet ready

The secrets of a celeb stylist

(Image credit: Rex Features (Shutterstock))

The secrets of a celeb stylist

When we found out Nicole Kidman's Cannes dress took 1,000 hours (1,000!) to make, we got a bit curious as to what happens behind the scenes at a red carpet event like the Oscars. Sure, we get plenty of celebrity bathroom selfies to show us how the party's going, but we were interested to know what happens before that.

In other words: the getting ready part. Like, how long does it take to pick a dress, how involved is the celebrity, and what happens if there's a major drama like two celebs turning up in the same dress (the horror)? So many questions.

celebrity stylist jessica chastain

So we thought we'd go straight to the source and grill one of Hollywood's top stylists, Elizabeth Stewart who happens to style the likes of Amanda Seyfried, Gal Gadot, Cate Blanchett, Viola Davis, Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock. To name just a few.

Here, she exclusively gives us all the details...

For a big red carpet event like the Oscars or a movie premiere, how far in advance do you start working with a celebrity?

I’m a planner, so in a perfect world I start a month in advance. But I often hear about things very last minute!

Does the celebrity come to you with an idea that she likes, or do you have free reign?

Most of my clients are very busy shooting movies so we make decisions at a fitting together.

How do you go about picking a concept?

Inspiration can truly come from anywhere!

julia roberts celebrity stylist

What is the next step? Do dresses get sent to you?

Dresses come in from all over the world… Paris, London, Milan, wherever the designer is. Shipping is a huge hidden cost in styling… same with tailoring.

And how and when do you pick the accessories?

Accessories tend to come last. Shoes are picked at the fitting as we need to tailor the length of a dress based on the shoe. Jewellery is always last!

On the day of the event, how early do you start getting ready? What do you need to think of in terms of the outfit?

The general rule of thumb is to start hair and makeup two hours beforehand, leaving 15 minutes to dress at the end. But I have done it much quicker depending on circumstances! We make sure we have any underpinnings necessary on hand: Spanx, special bras, etc

Have you ever had to deal with any last minute emergencies, e.g. A dress tearing?

I had a zipper break and had to call a tailor to sew a client into her dress!

Are you in contact with other stylists to make sure no two celebrities wear the same dress?

We check with the designers… when we request a look we ask if it’s been worn before and check again once it’s planned for an event.

What happens to the outfit after the event, does the celebrity get to keep it or is it usually on loan?

The looks are used for shoots, sales appointments, and production, so they usually go back! For a big event like the Oscars, we use a lot of custom dresses and then the designer often gives the dress as a gift.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.