The Wolk Morais Style Sessions Vol. 1: Inside Elizabeth Stewart’s Unparalleled Career

by Eddie Roche

What makes a legend most? Talent, persistence, luck and the keen eye of Hollywood super stylist Elizabeth Stewart. One part trend clairvoyant, one part fashion facilitator, Elizabeth Stewart’s editorial prowess and sartorial je ne sais quoi has made her the most sought after stylist in Hollywood. Her Academy Award winning client list includes Cate Blanchett, Julia Roberts, Viola Davis, Sandra Bullock, and Jessica Chastain. From an early age Ms. Stewart understood the importance of storytelling through fashion. After majoring in journalism at The University of South Carolina, she headed to New York and Paris where she served as a fashion editor to luminary publisher Patrick McCarthy at W and WWD. Her last stop before heading west was at the New York Times where she had a hand in creating some of the most memorable fashion images of the time under the legendary Amy Spindler. Love brought Elizabeth Stewart back to her birthplace of California, but her provenance, exquisite taste and the trust of her A-list clients have made her the most celebrated fashion visionary in Hollywood since Edith Head.  By Brian Wolk & Claude Morais of Wolk Morais

What do you think makes a great stylist?
Passion and curiosity. A good stylist doesn’t adhere to one particular style but loves all kinds of fashion

What do you think makes a great designer?
It’s an art form; it’s a talent you are born with. A great designer manages to marry creative thinking with technical virtuosity, and the understanding of the body. They are harbingers of what is to come, pushing the boundaries for everyone. It’s what keeps me and the industry fresh, because we are always moving forward with them.

Tell us about how you form a client image and the development process?
I don’t tell a client what to wear; I channel their style, and figure out what they want to wear through the filter of my own taste. I am not thinking about how I want to present this person to the world; it is about how I show who this person is to the world.

How do you interpret trends? How do you apply them to clients?
Trends only apply to my work in the sense of what is available and out there to pull from. Trends have no effect on what I do, it starts with whom I am working with and what we love.

 

 

Can you tell us the role of the red carpet in age where fashion and politics Have they become inextricably linked?
I am of two minds about it … On the one hand I understand that the fantasy and beauty of fashion serves as a respite for people in a world where so much tragedy is happening. On the other hand we have a platform and it’s important to use it to speak for what we believe in and help those in need.

What are your thoughts on the green carpet, rewearing clothing and its effect on the business of fashion?
I feel like I was an early advocate of that. Cate has always believed in it, and we thought about what the most public place we could do it? She rewore her 2014 Golden Globes dress to Cannes in 2020. She was president that year. She also wore all women designers that year with the exception of Giorgio Armani whom she has a long-standing relationship with. I love the word conscious, because I love the idea of dressing consciously.  We all love fashion and we all love the new and what’s next, and I don’t think we will be able to stop that instinct which is inherent to the industry. I think it’s all about being sustainable, and not just re-wearing but also refurbishing. I hope there is a whole new crop of designers who are using nothing but found clothes or reworking existing pieces.  We all still need to create. I don’t think I can honestly say I will never buy clothes again, but how do I reconcile that? I shop my own closet, I rework things, I shop vintage, I resell my clothes. How do we collectively do this and maintain our industry? I think the answer is somewhere in there.

How does geography play into dressing clients in a digital world where trends are global?
In my world, so much is seen on a step and repeat backdrop, so most often there is no sense of place. That is why I love Cannes so much. There is a sense of place.  I try to honor the city by picking a designer who is from that city whether it be China or London, it is a nice perimeter for us to work within.

How has Los Angeles changed since you have moved here?
It has become much more of a destination. I don’t think it will ever be a fashion hub like Paris or Milan, I don’t think the infrastructure is here. Since I have arrived more and more designers have arrived and the industry has made it a destination in the “Fashion Business.” I think the aesthetic is forming here. I would love it if the character of Los Angeles fashion was rooted in sustainability.

How has the job of the celebrity stylist changed since you moved from NYC?
I came here as an editorial stylist , worked for the NY Times Magazine and I started meeting celebrities because I was shooting them for magazine covers. I was really lucky to get to ride the wave, the job didn’t really exist in the way it does now. Calista Flockhart asked me to style her for the Emmys, and it built slowly from there. Cate was my second client.

How do you decide to take on a new client? What are you looking for?
A connection. There has to be a connection both aesthetically and with personalities. It is a very intimate relationship. I try not to have clients who compete with each other and who are diverse.

Tell us about working with Zoey Deutch.
Everyone I work with is different. Zoey has an incredible personal style, and in the heyday of fashion magazines she could have easily been an editor. With Zoey, It’s really being along for the ride, watering it, cultivating it. She really has the goods. She loves fashion.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 10: Zoey Deutch speaks osntage during the Daily Front Row’s Sixth Annual Fashion Los Angeles Awards on April 10, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Daily Front Row)

How do you protect your clients, as you are in many ways not just dressing them, but the voice of their public image?
I go with my gut. I like to be consistent. I like to recognize who they are, figure out the best way to channel it, and stick to it. Figure out the DNA and stick to it!

Your client roster is perhaps the most inclusive of any stylist. What are through lines and codes that bring your particular sensibility to all of them?
Some of them are just practical. Bold lines and bold colors work on the carpet in a way they may not in real life. Good taste, I would hope! Hair, makeup, styling, it’s a collaborative process.

Describe your client’s style
Cate Blanchett – Intellectual glamour
Julia Roberts – Tailoring with a dash of camp
Jessica Chastain- Movie star glamour
Zoey Deutch – Perennially chic/eclectic
Viola Davis – Bold and strong
Rebel Wilson- Minimal chic
Sandra Bullock- Haute hippie
Gal Gadot – Supermodel mom
Elizabeth Olsen – Timeless

Your Personal Style?
Lazy

Red Carpet Highlight
Cate in the Mary Kantranzou’s paint by Numbers Dress at Cannes, but honestly it always what’s next, that what you are always thinking about as a stylist.

If you were not a stylist what would you be?
A Chef

Elizabeth Stewart (Getty Images for Cacharel)

Whom do you want to take a Master Class with?
Kate Pepper of Kate’s Bread, my favorite baker.

Favorite shopping destination?
Santa Monica Farmers Market

Who would design your dream Mahjong set?
Me!

Read about Elizabeth Stewart’s recent honor as Fashion Visionary HERE.

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