When talking with stylist Cristina Ehrlich, it's easy to understand why so many actresses would trust her with their overly-scrutinized public appearances. She's like a shrink: thoughtful, candid, warm and authoritative. I found myself wondering what it would cost to have her work her magic on my wardrobe. (A lot, probably.)
"I think my hook is identifying with women and hearing what they need, what they want and having it be fun," she Tuesday at a celebration for denim company NYDJ's new creative board, of which she is a proud member. "For me, the service is being there for them."
Her client roster includes Anna Kendrick, Margot Robbie, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Allison Williams, to name a few, whom she dresses in off-the-runway and custom designer dresses for awards season, promotional tours and junkets. So it's a surprise to see her as an ambassador for such an accessible brand like NYDJ. "I think what clothes cost now is so psychotic and the high-end fashion stuff is for such a small group of women in the world," she admits. "No woman should feel like she can't embrace her own unique style, her own shape. It's a way for me to share my experience and work with a brand that's really reaching out to touch women from all over."
NYDJ is marketed toward adult women of all body types, and boasts a lifting and smoothing technology in its jeans, which are all priced under $150. It's a feature that even celebrities have a need for, says Ehrlich. "I have a lot of clients that have gone through having children who are guilty of literally putting on one or sometimes two pairs of Spanx underneath a pair of denim," she said. "That does not feel good." Ehrlich was wearing an NYDJ sweater and jacket in addition to the brand's jeans at the event. "I have a flat ass," she whispered, "and these are lifting my tushy up — so I am very happy I kind of have some booty."
Ehrlich says she wears the brand a lot while traveling: she generally flies back and forth between New York and Los Angeles every week, and just spent nearly two months in L.A. for the nonstop award show season. "I almost died by the time the Oscars happened," she said.
The Golden Globes were particularly hectic this year, because in addition to dressing five women for the event and after-parties, she was backstage throughout the show helping host Tina Fey — another of her clients — with all her costume changes. In order to divide and conquer, she leaves a member of her team with each client — always someone the celeb knows already — and filters through them periodically as they get ready. "I went around to four clients' houses just to say hi, check in, bring a flower, make sure they're okay, make sure they're clear with hair and makeup," she said of the Globes.
Styling for the red carpet has become a hugely strategic business in recent years, and much has been written about the complicated financial and political relationships between designers, stylists and agents as everyone battles to get a certain designer on a certain actress. "You've got the managers involved, you've got the agents involved, there's deals being done, some of it's political, some of it's not," Ehrlich explained. "A lot of times, things that should be handled by us end up falling in someone else's lap, and we've kind of got to do what we're told."
Her job gets more complicated, still, as more and more women are opting to change for the after parties, which was where some of the most exciting red carpet looks were found this year. "It's out of respect for the designer and the dress," Ehrlich explained. "If you're going to go to a party and get stepped on all night... after the awards are over, girls want to let their hair down a little bit and have a little bit more fun. Even with Tina, she loves to throw on a pair of jeans and her converse and go out the door, but this year she just kept the [Antonio Berardi] suit on."
Awards season may be over now, but the red carpet never stops (currently she's got Margot Robbie on a movie promo tour) and Ehrlich's strategy holds year-round: "What I always try to do when my girls are getting ready in that final fitting, when we really decide on what the dress is going to be, is make sure that they're choosing the dress for the right reasons," she said. "And that whatever the distractions are, it's their night to feel special."