What it’s REALLY like to be a celebrity stylist: Dressers to Lindsey Lohan, Boy George and Little Mix open up about earning £2,000 a day, 18-hour shifts and ‘dashing about in the rain to find a star’s favourite type of knickers’
Celebrity stylists who are responsible for dressing the rich and famous for everything from concerts to red carpet and TV appearances have revealed the lavish perks that come with their job – while being paid up to £2,000 in a day.
Alexis Knox, 35, from London, who has been styling for over 15 years, has worked with stars including Lindsey Lohan, Bruno Mars and Little Mix, while stylist of over 25 years Rachel Fanconi, from London, has dressed Helen Mirren, Dawn French and Joanna Lumley.
Miranda Holder, also from London, known as The Feel Good Fashion Coach, boasts a portfolio including Boy George, Emmerdale‘s Fiona Wade and Vanessa Williams.
The fashionistas told FEMAIL that it isn’t uncommon to travel abroad, receive freebies from designer brands and attend lavish events while working for their clients.
However, the enviable perks come at the cost of often missing out on valuable time with friends and family, rushing to get garments to the right places and working up to 18 hours in a day.
Here, the fashion experts share their experience of going above and beyond to get celebrities camera-ready…
Alexis, 35, who lives in London, has been styling internationally with locations including Milan and LA for over 15 years. Among the stars she has dressed is Miley Cyrus, Bruno Mars, Craig David and Little Mix.
Alexis Knox, 35, who lives in London, explained that the role of a celebrity fashion stylist can pay anything from £200 to thousands of pounds a day. Pictured: Alexis with US actress Lindsey Lohan
Alexis said: ‘I didn’t study fashion or styling, 15years ago there wasn’t even a styling degree. After graduating in illustration I moved to London where I assisted experienced fashion stylists, who were working across all forms of styling from commercial to high fashion editorials.
‘The salary from styling can vary. Anything from £200 a day to thousands of pounds a day. Sometimes with no expenses at all, and other times with business flights and private chauffeurs included.
‘A perk of celebrity styling is that you get to have an insight into worlds you might never tread.
‘You also get to see and hear the behind the scenes making of images that can then become famous or viral.
Alexis (pictured) revealed that she was able to become a stylist without studying a fashion course as she gained experience from working with professionals in the industry
Alexis said she was praying for success after being tasked with covering the chest of Miley Cyrus’s dancers (pictured) with pastys at Wembley Stadium
Alexis revealed the job of a fashion stylist can be physically demanding as they have to ruse between locations in all weather. Pictured: Alexis styling Craig David
‘Another perk is there can be a lot of freebies from designers and brands that want to butter you up to show their products to your clients. Anything from trips abroad in five star hotels to shoes and clothes, evenings out and dinners.
‘It can be highly glamorous at times and then other times it’s super unglam – running from store to store half an hour before they close in the rain trying to find your client’s preferred knickers. Or long hours and early mornings waiting for clients to finish filming so you can safely retrieve the thousands of pounds worth of clothes and jewellery they are wearing.’
‘I was working with Miley Cyrus at Wembley Stadium and she wanted her stage dancers to be topless with pasties over their nipples that were designed like glitter balls,’ Alexis said.
‘I’ve never had my eyes glued to so many breasts before. I was praying not one of the glitter ball pastys exposed a breast live on air – Safe to say no t*** were revealed.
Alexis, who has also styled Little Mix (pictured), revealed she has often had to miss out on time with friends and family to meet the needs of her clients
‘I love people and characters, I love that clothes can be used to express and entertain. For me I’m not obsessed with trends, I prefer to get to know a character and help a person elude that with their outfit.’
Alexis added that being a celebrity fashion stylist involves having to say no to seeing lots of plans with family and friends as the role requires being available to clients on weekends and evenings.
Sharing a fond memory, she said: ‘Styling Lindsey Lohan – it was a crazy long but exciting day with lots of high jinx and she was so comfortable in-front of the camera. Extremely comfortable at times as she intentionally flashed her breasts and bottom on set for the camera and the images were released – tastefully cropped I may add.’
For more information visit alexisknox.com
Having worked as a fashion stylist for over 25 years, Rachel’s clients have included Helen Mirren, Dawn French, Joanna Lumley, Kate Bush and Annie Lennox. The 50-year-old, from London, works alongside her husband Neil who is responsible for menswear and the logistics of their business.
Rachel revealed the work experience she did while studying fashion promotion at London College Of Fashion influenced her decision to become a stylist. She explained that although starting salaries are often around £16,000, it grows with experience.
Rachel Fanconi, 50, (pictured) from London, said the perks of being a stylist include previews of designer collections and discounts on clothes
Rachel, whose clients have included Dawn French (pictured), said being a stylist requires a lot of collaboration with make-up artists, hair stylists and photographers
Rachel said: ‘I get a range of different jobs that can be anything from two days to two weeks travelling with a person. In terms of perks you get access to early previews of collections and designers are often very kind with discounts for clothes.
‘It’s been great to get to travel around the world and work with people that I’ve long admired in some of the most beautiful locations. I’m very lucky.
‘The job itself often feels like we’re playing because at its best styling is really collaborative. I find the team-work element the best thing, your client has got to love the look and as a stylist you’re generally working as part of a group around someone – there will be a makeup artist and a hair stylist and of course photographer if you’re shooting – and everyone has to unite to make something beautiful – it feels really rewarding when it all comes together.
‘You would imagine that last minute things would be tough but I actually love this aspect of the job. When you have to chase around like Bruce Willis in Die Hard it adds to the excitement of pulling everything together.
‘I think adapting to circumstances during the pandemic has probably been the hardest as suddenly the rushing around London had to stop and we had to start ordering everything up online which took a bit of getting used to – I’m so relieved that retail is back.’
Rachel was obsessed with clothes growing up. She said it isn’t uncommon to work more than 12 hours in a day but she enjoys every aspect.
‘I try to use my time wisely now and often work with other people to deal with returning items, managing couriers and invoicing. Ultimately the aim is that my clients can do three weeks of shopping in three hours on the rails here in my studio so it does take a lot of time and leg work to assemble everything,’ Rachel said.
Rachel revealed she has had to adapt since the pandemic – launching personal shopping service and offering styling via Zoom. Pictured: Helen Mirren as styled by Rachel
‘I styled the Breast Cancer Care Fashion Show (now called breastcancernow.org) years ago. We dressed 25 inspirational women and men who were currently being treated or had been treated recently in five looks each – 100 looks delivered.
‘It was a mad project, emotional and a real challenge to complete but just the most fun – my mum and dad came to the show and it’s such a happy memory.
‘Over the last year, we’ve launched a new personal shopping service aimed at helping anyone who wants to take the stress out of dressing and be inspired with some new ideas informed by the tricks and hacks I’ve learned over the years helping celebrities prepare for public events.
‘Sessions take place at the studio in London or we can bring everything to you, we came up with the idea of making an experience that’s like shopping in a boutique curated just for you after seeing how many clients were unable to create the time to shop.
‘This recreates the formula that we use when we work with celebrity clients when we are prepping them a rail of outfit-built pieces ready to go for a stream of back to back events.
‘During the pandemic I’ve also conducted sessions on Zoom which works surprisingly well and I think is something we’ll continue to offer as it’s been great to be able to work with people around the world.’
The Feel Good Fashion Coach
Miranda Holder, from Hampshire, founded The Feel Good Fashion Coach, after a life-changing car accident in which she nearly lost a leg and faced partial paralysis. She claims having fashion magazines bought to her by friends while recovering helped her throughout.
She went on to secure fashion editorships for luxury magazines after overcoming imposter syndrome and studying at Central St Martins in London. The 42-year-old revealed her diverse range of clients have included Boy George, Emmerdale’s Fiona Wade, Vanessa Williams, Little Mix as well as Hollywood Film Directors.
Miranda Holder, 42, (pictured) from Hampshire, revealed her role as a fashion stylist involves having working breakfasts as well as being at her client’s concerts
Miranda said: ‘No day is ever the same. One day you can be planning the next season’s looks over a working breakfast, the next you are standing in the wings at an artist’s concert ensuring the look you’ve created for them ticks all the boxes once they step onto the stage under the spotlight. I love the unpredictability of the work, you never know what will get thrown at you next.
‘When I’m not styling an actual shoot or working with a client, I appear regularly as a fashion expert on TV and am a regular media commentator – frequently called upon to discuss all things from the latest Royal looks to shopping vintage. I also host my own podcast – ‘Fashion Weekly Podcast with Miranda Holder’
‘I remember once a designer was creating a bespoke piece for a high profile music video shoot with Boy George and had actually fallen very ill, so was unable to deliver their creation to the shoot day.
Miranda said she has had the opportunity to learn from some of the most successful and talented people in the world. Pictured: Miranda styling Boy George
Miranda feared her last job would be working with Boy George (pictured) after struggling to get in contact with a designer
‘I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to get hold of her – I was thinking that this was going to be my last ever job and how would I possibly make things work without the key garments. I had to go and confess to George that we were missing the most important look in the wardrobe.
‘It was the first time I had ever worked with him and I was so nervous – but he was absolutely incredible and so supportive. His words were ‘darling, there are no wardrobe malfunctions only wardrobe moments’ and he trusted me to work it out.
‘The shoot actually ended up looking even better than I had planned. From that day I have been in absolute awe of him and am honoured to have worked with him – he really is a creative genius.’
Miranda explained that the industry isn’t regulated, which allows for pay to vary from £500 – £2,000 a day.
She continued: ‘You get to work with some incredible people and be privy to a fascinating world, attend film premieres, glittering galas and parties with guest lists I’ll dine out on for years to come. And you get to learn from some of the most successful and talented people in the world – it’s amazing what pearls of wisdom you can pick up along the way.
Miranda (pictured), who sometimes works 18 hours straight, said she begins projects by producing a moodboard
‘I get introduced to so many fascinating people but the biggest honour is having clients trust me wholeheartedly. For many celebrities their image is an integral part of their brand, and as a stylist it’s crucial that they have the utmost confidence in me and my ability.
‘You really do become part of their world and they regard you as a true confidant. For that reason, discretion is of the utmost importance and I still have clients who prefer not to admit to having a stylist.
‘Some days I only work for three hours and others I work for 18 hours straight. It depends entirely on the job in hand. Flexibility is key. If I’m working towards a shoot, the project starts with the overall concept, themes and colour palettes being discussed, following which I produce a moodboard.
‘Then there’s the preparation stage which involves putting selects together, this can be very time consuming as I meet with designers and PRs who are shortlisted. A shoot itself can be as short as two hours if the client is very busy, but it’s not unusual for music video shoots to go through the night.
‘Then there’s all the returning of the garments and administration at the end of the day. I have several assistants who help me and are worth their weight in gold. Other scenarios include VIP shopping trips, wardrobe edits, and attending events with your client, ensuring they are looking their very best.’
Miranda (pictured) advises those who want to become a fashion stylist to network with PRs and designers, as well as to find a mentor
Miranda advises those interested in becoming a fashion stylist to consider training at The London College of Style, which offers ongoing support for breaking into the industry.
Miranda added: ‘Never ever give up – you need a ton of tenacity to just keep knocking on doors as eventually one will open. Get yourself out there, attend fashion week, visit the PRs and designers attend the parties and be open to possibilities. The key to your next big job could be sitting right next to you.
‘Finally – have a mentor. There is nothing quite like actually doing the job and no training in the world can fully prepare you for it. Be prepared to work for free as shadowing somebody established is invaluable at the beginning in order for you to learn the ropes.’