It isn't easy to get an up-and-coming actress like "13 Reasons Why" star Katherine Langford a custom Prada dress for an awards ceremony as big as the Golden Globes — especially with relatively-short notice that the dress code would call for all-black. Luckily, Langford has stylist Molly Dickson — something of an up-and-comer herself — by her side.
"It was so last minute, they weren't sure if they would have enough time to do a custom for her," Dickson says. "They emailed the next day, and they're like, we'll do it. They sent me sketches, and it we went from there — it was amazing."
Custom Prada is already a coup, but then Dickson had what she calls a "crazy idea" during the first fitting. The original sketch shows that the deep v-cut went down the back of the gown, but she loved the line so much that she wanted it to be at the front.
"I didn't say it out loud, because it sounded crazy," Dickson says. "We do the fitting, and it was beautiful; I'm getting her out of the dress, and I'm like, 'Katherine, I have something really crazy that I want you to try: Can we put it on backwards?'" Langford was game, and the results were a solid red carpet moment for both the starlet and the stylist.
Getting to put your own spin on a custom Prada gown isn't a bad start for a stylist who's been on her own for less than six months. Dickson, who grew up on a farm in North Dakota where "the nearest place to get a Vogue was 45 minutes away," got her start in the industry working at Marie Claire under the fashion market director. But it was the job she would take after that, with power stylist Leslie Fremar, that would help launch Dickson's career. She worked under Fremar for over six years, learning the ins and outs of styling and building valuable relationships.
"Watching Leslie work was like watching magic happen," Dickson says. "She pays so much attention to detail. We would be in fittings and she would ask the tailor to take the hem up two centimeters, and it would completely change the whole gown. She taught me that paying attention to detail and minor, minor things can completely change a whole look."
Fremar also let Dickson take on jobs and clients on her own during downtime, which is how Dickson linked up with Langford. The two met via Facetime before the first season of "13 Reasons Why" was set to debut on Netflix and hit it off right away. Dickson styled the newcomer for her entire press tour, as well as a cover shoot for Entertainment Weekly. With a major client on board, Dickson decided that last fall was the time to break out on her own — though leaving Fremar was a difficult decision.
"I felt like we had a relationship like sisters have," Dickson says. "Once I felt like I couldn't balance giving 100 percent to both her and my own stuff, I felt like it was time to go off on my own."
The Prada team felt comfortable with Dickson's vision because she had been working with them for years under Fremar; it's also how she got the Miu Miu team to collaborate on a custom Golden Globes dress for her other major client, "Stranger Things" season two star Sadie Sink. Dickson had been binging "The Crown" and became particularly fascinated by the looks worn by Jacqueline Kennedy. She wanted Sink's look to be the "young girl's modern version of Jackie O." and Miu Miu delivered. For Dickson, being able to make her visions come to life is one of the best perks of the job so far.
"Working for yourself, there's obviously a lot of risks and rewards," Dickson says. "I would say I have the creative freedom that I've never had before in any job."
Though both of her styled Golden Globes looks were unabashedly feminine, Dickson describes her own style as "casual and sporty, with a mix of downtown edge." She brings this element of cool into her work by making sure her two young starlets never feel too precious; a pale pink Christian Dior dress for Sink gets toughened up with a pair of black boots, for example. Working with younger clients has been fun for Dickson, even if it does come with some limitations.
"I'm not going to pull things that are super revealing, because Sadie is 15 — I remember in one fitting, one dress was a little revealing and I was like, 'Oh my god, you can't wear that, your dad would hate me!'" she says with a big laugh. "I think it's fun for them too, because it's not like they're doing a fitting for a show where they're not representing themselves, they're dressing for a character. [When we do] fittings for their press, we're trying to put them in things that represent their personal style."
While Dickson has definitely made a strong start, there's still been a learning curve to being self-employed, mostly involving things like spreadsheets and contracts. ("I honestly wish I would've taken more business classes in college!" she says.) But beyond the nitty-gritty details of running your own business, her styling abilities have been proven. Langford and Sink are already best-dressed regulars, and Dickson has the drive to keep her momentum going.
"I hate things that stagnate," Dickson says. "I love jobs where I'm meeting really interesting people, and I'm being challenged and growing."