Celebrity stylists are often unsung heroes. The work they do for star clients is frequently photographed and disseminated out to the world—through red carpet appearances, magazine spreads, concerts, etc.—but rarely are their names. They remain, somewhat, a league of invisible hands. Because, sure, a lot of folks can remember Timothée Chalamet’s shirtless moment at the 2022 Oscars or Doja Cat’s exhilarating bevy of experimental looks at Paris Couture Week. But how many can name the stylists partly responsible for the viral ensembles? (For the record, it’s Erin Walsh and Brett Alan Watson, respectively.) This paradox can feel particularly odd when, thanks to social media, celebrity style is seen and picked over manyfold—and, most of the time, it sparks culture-dominating trends. (See: the recent rise of opera gloves as casual wear.)
In fact, the tension caused by doing such high-profile work from a low-profile public position was at the root of the news-making retirement announcement of renowned “image architect” Law Roach. During an interview with The Cut‘s Lindsey People’s Wagner, the 44-year-old stylist cited a slew of reasons for his retirement, including burnout, demanding clients, and gatekeeping. A notable throughline of feeling overworked and underappreciated emerged from the hour-long interview. “I just feel like I should sometimes be a little bit more taken care of,” the in-demand creative said at one point. Roach is not alone. speaking with GQ, stylists across Hollywood recently regaled tales about the increasingly crushing demands and stressors of their gigs; stylist Kara Welch expanded, “I think the biggest challenge is so many people, so few looks.”
It appears that celebrity stylists—both well-established and upcoming—are long overdue for their roses. To shine a light on the critical contributions of stylists are making to the modern fashion landscape, Vogue has gathered three fast-emerging names—Felicity Kay, Marissa Pelly, Enrique Melendez**— from within the industry to learn more about their approach.
Kay, who works with It Boy actors like Kit Connor and Paul Mescal, cites an interest in “moving towards postgenderism in fashion.” This endeavor is clearly illustrated by Mescal’s turns in womenswear-first brands, such as Simone Rocha. Pelly, stylist to rapper Ice Spice, has trained her eye, in part, on a fresh mix of “iconic luxury brands” and “trendy, niche brands.”