Red Carpet Words To The Wise From Lupita Nyong’o’s Stylist

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With the Oscars just weeks away, it’s a wonder stylist Micaela Erlanger found the time to sneak away from her high profile clients to give us some intel about how she helps them work the red carpet. As the mastermind behind Lupita Nyong’o’s incredible awards show style, Erlanger is a wealth of information when it comes to getting dressed for any occasion. While we (unfortunately) won’t be walking the carpet next to our beloved Lupita, we can certainly benefit from some of the tricks of the trade Erlanger uses to help her look like the awards show princess she is.

On starting to craft a look for a client: It’s always a collaboration with each of my clients and it’s always about choosing a focal point. A brainstorm and a process that starts with one idea��whether it’s a silhouette, or a feel, or a mood -- some source of inspiration. But there’s always a conversation, and then, for me, it’s always about choosing what that focal point is going to be. So, are we going to go for a print? Are we going to go with a daring neckline? What’s it gonna be? And it goes from there. I don’t think you want to overwhelm someone, and it’s really about balance.

On watching celebrities walk down the red carpet: It’s so exciting. It’s so great—it’s so invigorating to see how fashion is interpreted on the red carpet. I’m always inspired by what other people are wearing, too and seeing how we can reinvent eveningwear.

On designers she loves: I love the classics but I also totally love working with up and coming brands and newer names—the Prabals, and Erdems and Peter Pilottos and Mary Katrantzous of the world are some that I think are really innovative and newer. Of course, I love the classics—the Guccis and the Calvins and the Valentinos and Pradas of the world. It’s always about a balance between new and young and established.

On making the garment look absolutely perfect: It really starts with—once you figure out what you’re working with, alterations are key. There are many fittings that go into perfecting that dress and that moment, so that’s super important. And, also, your undergarments! My collaboration with Maidenform is really truly awesome because I believe in their product line and shape wear is key -- a foundation piece. Foundation pieces are definitely something that, as a stylist, you use as a resource for your clients’ smoothing, shaping, all of that. You want those dresses to look flawless and perfect when they go down that carpet, and that means no lumps and bumps. So, whether it’s foundation pieces or the right bra, or the right strapless or “solution,” they’ve got it.

On fixing fashion emergencies: Luckily, I’m pretty darn prepared. Actually, I’m super excited because Maidenform now has some products that I keep in my kit that they’re now producing. They have a topstick that’s curved, so it’s actually curved to the shape of your bra so it’s the perfect piece to adhere to a daring neckline. There’s these little sponges for—let’s say you’re putting your dress on and accidentally got a little makeup on your collar or deodorant from putting your dress on over your head—they’re these magic sponges that remove it all. Needle and thread. Listen, if you’re at a hotel, housekeeping surely has needle and thread with pre-threaded needles—they’re super easy, they’re really slim. They come in a little case that can even fit in your smallest clutch. There have been moments where something rips, or a button pops and something needs to be sewn. Fashion emergencies do come up from time to time, but you gotta be prepared.