Leslie Fremar, photographed in West Hollywood. (Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles…)
After stints at Vogue and Prada, New York-based stylist Leslie Fremar, 34, joined the elite group of stylists who dress A-listers for the Oscar red carpet, which has evolved into the world's highest-profile fashion runway.
Whom have you dressed for the Oscars, and whom are you dressing this year?
In the past, I've dressed Salma Hayek, Charlize Theron and Reese Witherspoon for the Oscars. This year I'm dressing Reese for the Oscars; she's a presenter. And I have some other clients who are attending the parties. I'm dressing Charlize Theron and Rashida Jones.
Do you have any favorite looks from past Oscars, either yours or other stylists?
I do tend to watch the show and critique it like anyone else, and have favorites and things I like and don't like. I loved when Julianne Moore wore Gucci when Tom Ford was designing. She wore this incredible strapless green emerald gown, and to me that stands out as something that is classic and remains current somehow. Who else? It's hard for me to say because I do have such a critical eye. I always find things wrong; the longer I look at a picture or analyze a look, it becomes more work and it's not necessarily pleasure for me.
What are some of your least favorite looks?
Everyone has individual style, and I do believe that style is subjective and people look beautiful if they feel beautiful. Sometimes when people go awry, like Lara Flynn Boyle dressing like a ballerina; there was something behind that look, so even though my perspective was that it was ridiculous, there was a reason for it.
Can you describe the process?
It can work two different ways. Your client can hire you and you can schedule a fitting time and you can source the market and bring them many options, and you have a time when you can try everything on. Or you can have a conversation about a direction, and if there's something specific in mind in terms of a color or silhouette, something that works well on their body, you can approach a designer or a few designers and ask if they can present sketches to your client, and you go through them and choose, without actually physically seeing the dress. So you can have something custom-made. And obviously there's risk involved in that, so you would source a few backup options, but your intention is to support the designer that's making you something.
And your client also won't be on any of those "who wore it better" pages.
Right. It's just become that the Internet and all those magazines generate sales by controversy. We try to minimize anything like that for them to talk about, so it hasn't been worn before, it hasn't been shot before, it's not in the stores. It's new and current and some people like to have things custom-made to avoid any of those problems.
What kinds of looks do you expect to see this Sunday?
At the Globes and the SAG Awards, we saw lots of pinks and reds, more happy colors. I do think we're going to see that as a trend that's going to continue. I think people are feeling festive this year and happy.
Are there any designers you particularly like for the Oscars?
I have, I don't want to say favorite designers, I have favorite collections. The aesthetic isn't suited to everybody, but there are designers you know make incredible couture gowns that are very present during award season, like Versace and Chanel and even Vera Wang. These are designers whose ateliers are trained in making gowns with undergarments and all the right pinnings. They fit really well.
Why do celebrities need stylists? They managed without them for many years.
I think, one, it's a service that makes things very easy for them. We know the market, we know what's out there. We have the contacts to get things you need and we do this for a living, so we have a trained eye. And I also think with the Internet and all the journalists being so critical, it's really hard. I think they've lost faith in their ability to say, "Yeah, this is great, I feel great." It's more like they want a professional opinion to say, "If we go this route, you may be criticized, but it's really interesting and beautiful on you." I always find that those fashion police on the E! Channel, whatever they don't like, I like. Whatever they like, I don't like. So it's almost become a joke.
You started your career in Vogue. Why did you move from fashion magazines to working with celebrities?