Celebrity Stylist Leslie Fremar on Summer Trends, Red Carpet Secrets, and What's In Her Styling Kit
Superstylist Leslie Fremar is responsible for some of our favorite celebrity fashion moments. (Charlize Theron in strapless ivory Dior at the 2013 Oscars? That was her. Julianne Moore in hunter Balenciaga at this year's Met Gala? Yep, her again.)
So, when Leslie — who has been working with T.J. Maxx lately, to spread awareness about the retailer's new study on intersection between fashion and self-expression — offered to chat with us about her favorite summer trends (she's a big fan of stripes and polka dots), what's in her styling kit (never leave home without double-stick tape), and whether or not she ever gets sick of looking at clothes, we jumped at the chance.
StyleBistro: You must look at so many clothes every day. What are some of your favorite trends for spring and summer right now?
Leslie:I’m seeing a lot of black and white, a lot of sheer paneling, stripes, polka dots. A lot of fair, pastel colors. All pretty prominent trends. And then with my work with T.J. Maxx and the study that they’re doing, it was interesting that the research found that women aren’t really shopping based on the trends that they’re seeing on the runway. It’s more about using dressing as a form of self expression, and just about what makes you feel good. It’s definitely a philosophy that I bring into my work when I work with my clients. I understand what the trends are, we’re looking at them, but I don’t necessarily feel that I have to utilize all the trends of the season. It’s really about finding clothes that make my clients feel good. In turn, we sometimes set trends by doing that without even realizing it. That’s kind of my idea on trends.
StyleBistro:How do you figure out what makes your clients feel good?
Leslie: We work separately at first, I source all the clothes and come up with my own ideas. Then when we get into a fitting situation it’s a lot of collaboration and trying things on and hit or miss. It’s about a rapport and a conversation about what makes them feel good. It's also about what I’m seeing with my eye, because it doesn’t always match up. Sometime’s they’ll feel great, but it wont be the most flattering silhouette, and I’ll vocalize that. Or vice versa — something that they don’t think is flattering, but I do. There are a lot of things that we work through in the fitting, so it’s definitely a collaborative process.
StyleBistro: What makes you feel good personally? When did you discover you had this sense of style?
Leslie: Style for me wasn’t necessarily about clothes. It was more an appreciation for fine things and craftsmanship and art and photography and well-made things. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m passionate about shopping. That wasn’t why I got into it. It was more about appreciating designers.
StyleBistro: And ideas?
Leslie: Yes, and ideas. And understanding what goes into collections and the process of putting on a show. I like all of those things. Even as a kid I was really interested in magazines.
StyleBistro: Do you have an art background?
Leslie: I’m artistic. I took visual arts in college. I like to draw. My interests were always in the arts as opposed to other things. I’d consider myself an artist in my own right, but I’m not a professional artist. When people think “What is an artist” I’m not necessarily that. Even though I can do artistic things. I think for women who are artistic, career paths are limited, which is unfortunate. I think a lot of people go into fashion because it is a big industry that has creative parts. I think it is a natural path for a lot of women. That’s how I felt when I graduated from college. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with my personality, and being artistic, and being creative. So I think fashion was a safe place for me.
StyleBistro: When you’re styling, what do you bring in your kit?
Leslie: I call it a prop kit. It’s filled with many different things. I always have double-stick tape, and pins, and a needle and thread in case something were to go wrong. I always have an assortment of underpinnings, bras, girdles, stockings.
Leslie: Like Spanx, many different types of body shapers. Girdle may be an old-fashioned term. That aged me. So my kit is definitely filled with all of those things.
StyleBistro: So, for a woman going to fancy event, like a wedding, what are three things she should have on her?
Leslie: I don’t go anywhere without double-stick tape, and I think a lot of women don’t think to carry double-stick tape. It’s like a wig tape that really eliminate many problems. A needle and thread, and maybe Advil.
Leslie: When I wear really high shoes, I always have Advil. Not that I’m endorsing taking Advil all of the time, but it really works for when your shoes are painful at the end of the night.
StyleBistro: Who was the last celebrity you dressed who really wowed you on the red carpet?
Leslie: I get excited when I see all the pictures, because there’s so much work that goes into it. I get excited for major events like the Oscars. This year Charlize was in Dior and Reese was wearing this beautiful Louis Vuitton dress. I get really excited the next day when the pictures start coming through the press. It’s more exciting when the press is positive. It definitely helps.
StyleBistro: That white gown that Charlize wore to the Oscars was beautiful. What is something we wouldn’t know just by looking at it?
Leslie: I had that dress made for her, and it was sketched with two different tops. The dress arrived in pieces, and we chose that specific top. There was another top that could have been attached to the skirt. We got to decide kind of last-minute how we wanted to construct the dress. Those are fun things that we get to do that maybe, when you’re shopping, aren't allowed.
StyleBistro: How did you and Julianne Moore decide on that lavender dress she wore in Cannes?
Leslie: Originally that dress was shown in a different silhouette, and a different color combination. But we really liked the idea of mixing black and something bold and iridescent. They ended up sketching for us, and coming up with that dress.
StyleBistro: Are designers usually receptive when you’re like, “I like this, but can you change that?”
Leslie: They are. It’s fun to have that working relationship with a lot of designers who are really creative people, and who are willing to sketch for us.
StyleBistro: So back to personal style, when you work with your celebrity clients, do you have a hand in their everyday style?
Leslie: I don’t. In terms of day looks, I’ll do their day looks if they’re doing promotions. Like if you see them on morning television or some type of public breakfast. But in terms of their personal style, I think that that’s really their own.
StyleBistro: Do you have any certain looks that you’ll always pull for particular clients?
Leslie: They’re always different. They’re different for each girl. But there are silhouettes that I know work on their body. I don’t try to stick only with that silhouette, but I know that if we’re in a situation where we don’t have a lot of time that there are pieces that definitely work.
StyleBistro: Do you have a specific example? Like, Charlize Theron always looks great in these strong, minimalist looks.
Leslie: That strength comes from her personality. That’s really who she is. She’s a very strong confident woman. That comes out in her clothes. So I think that if that outfit that she wore was on someone else it wouldn’t read as powerful as it does on her because I think that that’s just how she feels.
StyleBistro: You’re based out of New York City. How do you store everything?
Leslie: Well I have an office. My personal stuff, I have a lot of space for. But when I first started out working I lived in a very small studio and I worked out of there as well. And if there was a day or a week when my favorite show was on television, I literally wouldn’t be able to take a job, because when I took a job my entire apartment would be filled with clothes and I wouldn’t be able to see my T.V. from my bed. I would decide whether or not I was going to take a job based on my T.V. schedule. Like if there was something that I really wanted to watch, and I needed to relax, I couldn’t be working.
StyleBistro: Do you clean out your closet a lot? Or do you save everything?
Leslie: I think because I do this all day long, and I do it for a living, I’m not really attached to anything. I’m happy to give things away, I get rid of a lot of things. I don’t keep many things.
StyleBistro: As a stylist, do you remember the first moment you felt like you had made it?
Leslie: I don’t know if I felt like I had made it, but Salma Hayek used to be a client of mine and she was a juror at the Cannes film festival. It was my first big job, this was ten years ago or eleven years ago. I had to dress her. I mean, she must have gone to like seven black tie events, and I remember thinking “There will never be a job as big as this.” And it was my first one as a freelancer. As she kept coming out every night and doing press it was so exciting.
StyleBistro: Do you ever get sick of looking at clothes?
Leslie: You know what? I enjoy it. There are definitely moments where I’m more excited. But I’m always thankful for what I do. I have a great job, and the clothes still excite me. When that changes, I’ll make a change. But I’m lucky that that day hasn’t come yet.
StyleBistro: Do you ever have to convince people to wear things that you want them to wear?
Leslie: Yes! Most of my clients are clients that I’ve had for a long time. So we have friendships, and working relationships. So I’ll just be like “Listen. That is amazing. You have to trust me.” Sometimes they’ll be like “fine,” and sometimes they’ll be like “no way.” But when I convince them and it works out, it’s like the best feeling.
StyleBistro: What’s something that your clients are scared to wear?
Leslie: I think they’re scared of things that are a little too avant-garde or a little too over the top. They’re not necessarily scared of it when they’re trying it on in a fitting, they’re more scared that people aren’t going to be receptive to it. And when they’re promoting something, they don’t want that to be a distraction from what they’re there to be doing. They’re not models, so sometimes the clothes can distract from the reason that they’re there.
For more of Leslie, check out her red-carpet-tested tips for looking your best in pictures!