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Stylists have become stars in fashion — and now some of them are getting a book of their very own.
"Stylists: The Interpreters of Fashion," due out from Rizzoli later this month, examines the hard-to-define role, which can do everything from oversee a magazine's fashion shoot to choreograph a designer's show to help devise a collection to create the aura a celebrity has style. After presumably much discussion, the editors of Style.com, the online home of Vogue and W, decided to feature 16 stylists: Polly Mellen, Camilla Nickerson, Carine Roitfeld, Grace Coddington, Karl Templer, Alex White, Melanie Ward, Joe Zee, Brana Wolf, Andrea Lieberman, Paul Cavaco, Venetia Scott, Tonne Goodman, Lori Goldstein, Edward Enninful and Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele. Interestingly, those who style only celebrities — such as Rachel Zoe, L'Wren Scott or Jessica Pasteur — were left out.
With a forward by Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and an introduction by contributing editor Sarah Mower, the book explores how these 16 stylists have risen up through the ranks, addresses their inspirations and essentially their complexities. Given the job description today, it's hard to believe a stylist — a term that first appeared in magazines in the Thirties — was once reduced to the person who got the clothes to the shoot.
"They crystallize what our times are about at their best," Mower said in a phone interview.
Our celebrity-crazed culture and the tabloids' relentless red-carpet fixation have helped make "stylist" part of the popular vernacular, but many people still don't know what that really means, she said. Sure, most understand actresses and musicians don't dress themselves for formal events and the people who do are called stylists, but their knowledge tends to end there, according to Mower. "We wanted to dissect more and more what they do. The role of the stylist has gone far further than it used to be."
To keep things even-steven, each stylist has a 16- to 18-page chapter, chock-full of photographs, including some cinematic ones like White's Jean Harlow-inspired image for a 2004 W shoot. Even more intriguing are the personal photos that close each individual's chapter, giving readers a peek at the tastemakers after hours. Mellen is seen hamming things up with Richard Avedon on an airplane, Coddington is pictured leaping in the snow, an underage Carine Roitfeld is seen in a purple minidress and matching head scarf and Cavaco is in a full-length fur coat drinking a cold one alfresco. Others, like Templer, Goldstein, Goodman and Scott, went the residential route, including snapshots of their homes.