Vogue Fashion Showroom

Behind the Scenes: Styling the Stars

Do they ever get nervous or self-conscious? How could you possibly ever feel bad about yourself when you’re impossibly flawless looking all the time?

I recently had the unexpected opportunity of a lifetime to go behind the scenes with celebrities getting glam before their red carpet appearances. Initially I had been recruited just as an intern in charge of signing in and handing out gift bags to VIP guests at the Stylist Suite penthouse of the Trump Tower Residences. Two days later on the job however, I was promoted to Celeb Personal Stylist.

Like What?!

Jewelry Showroom
Photo credit: Ryan Emberley

I would be assigned three celebrity clients who had each booked private appointments with the Stylist Suite.

“Hi, how are you? I’m Istiana, I’ll be your personal stylist today.” I’d introduce myself while another intern would serve them a glass of champagne. “So how many events will you be attending this week?” I’d ask.

“I’ve got the AMBI Gala at Four Seasons tonight, the TIFF Producers Ball, a premier at Roy Thompson, and a brunch.”

Okay four events: Two elegant, one can be a little more fun and edgy, then one casual daytime look.

I’d give them an up and down to get a sense of what their personal style is based on what they were currently wearing and then ask questions like: “what sort of pieces do you gravitate towards usually?” “Is there anything we should avoid?”

Then we would start pulling pieces off the racks that either they picked out or I had suggested would look good on them.

So it turns out, celebrities do actually get self-conscious sometimes. Maybe sometimes they’re just like you and I even—actual humans who have fears and flaws and sometimes succumb to the pressure to look, act, and be perfect 24/7.

The difference between celebrities and average people like you and I, is that when celebrities walk into a room, they light it up. Not just because everyone knows who they are and they’re famous—in fact I didn’t know half the names of the stars that walked in—but there’s just something about the way a star enters a room. They just exude an energy that draws people in. They make you feel welcome and take care to acknowledge every presence in the room whether it’s through a friendly wave/smile as they walk by you, or an oh-my-god-I-haven’t- seen-you-in-forever best friend type of hug with someone they had only met once at an event months ago. Celebrities also seem to just know everyone. “How are you!?” “You look gorgeous!” “That dress is just to die for on you girl!” “I looooved your last film darling.”

Behind the dressing room curtain however, it’s a slightly different story.

Celebrity Fitting Rooms
Dressing Room Selfie!

One of the clients for example, was very self-conscious about her cleavage area. That meant we had to find her something that downplayed the chest. Another felt she had too broad of shoulders. We also only had samples to work with, which meant that every piece only came in one size and one size only. Some dresses were perfect for a certain event but wouldn’t fit right or zip up (and let me tell you something about trying to zip up a celebrity’s dress zipper that just wont budge without a) ripping the zipper, b) have your hand slip off and accidently punch a celebrity’s back, and c) making it seem like you’re telling them they’re too fat for the size 2 dress).

Other times, a celebrity would try on a really bold dramatic Andrew Majtenyi piece, or a Rihanna-type butt baring lace pantsuit—look amazing in it, but be unconvinced they could really pull something like that off without validation and ego reinforcement. “That piece hits your waistline in all the right places, I promise!” “That looks absolutely stunning!”

I meant what I said; they really did look out of this world inhumanly stunning, but I also tried to be as honest as possible if something didn’t look quite right and I knew we could find better. I also didn’t want to be responsible for putting celebrities on the worst dressed list! It is ridiculous how much scrutiny stars are put under for their appearance.

Once we found the perfect looks, I’d take them to the accessory room with a tray where we’d pull complimenting jewelry pieces before they’d head off into hair and makeup. Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine myself in a situation where I would be handing a star a $16 thousand dollar stingray leather clutch encrusted in Madagascar sapphires saying,” Ah, I think this would be the perfect clutch for your evening look tonight.” But yes, that did happen.

Despite receiving the VIP star treatment and having everything taken care of for you, stars are thankfully and surprisingly humble about it. I was treated with respect and my opinion actually meant something to them. I even received a few Tweets and Instagram comments thanking me for my help!

Michelle Jobin Tiff 2015


  1. How did you get to where you are now?
    I’m 23 almost 24 I recently graduated cosmetology school but I live in a state where there are not many opportunities. And I come from a back ground with little money. I now make enough to survive but I know I have something great to offer to world. Please some advice on how to persu the next step ? Thanks Taylor

    1. Hi Taylor 🙂 I am currently still a student but I do a lot of volunteer work and take every opportunity that comes my way. If no opportunity comes, I create them for myself (by starting this website, and my youtube channel). Where I come from there’s not much opportunity either so I am planning on moving next year to where they are. If moving locations is a possibility for you I would definitely go for it! I still have a day job but every hour that I’m not in work or class I’m working towards my dreams. Start your own business or freelancing and don’t give up, even if you can only do it on the side for now. 🙂 Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply