Elizabeth Saltzman’s work is most often brought to life in extraordinary red carpet moments. As a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, where she was previously the fashion director, and a former senior fashion editor at Vogue, the stylist makes sure the celebrities she dresses—like Gwyneth Paltrow, Saoirse Ronan and Uma Thurman—regularly appear on best-dressed lists. Saltzman’s influence in the industry has allowed her to commission pieces from the world’s top designers, including the ivory caped Tom Ford gown Paltrow wore to the 2012 Academy Awards.
In recent years, Saltzman has teamed up with Miu Miu and Prada to create stunning red carpet collections and has produced countless events for charitable organizations and fashion brands including UNICEF, Tory Burch, Valentino, Michael Kors and Dee & Tommy Hilfiger.
Saltzman is also known for impeccably curating the openings of popular establishments and is a go-to for a number of restaurants from The Ivy to The Arts Club.
Here, she tells Montage Magazine how she dresses clients for the red carpet.
First question you ask a celebrity about their desired look?
The first thing I ask a client is how do they feel? What’s their message? Is it confidence, love, strength, etc.?
Most important accessory?
There is no most important accessory, as it can change with each look. A great shoe is just as important as the right earrings. The right jewelry always adds that certain pow. A lip color can give that pop that you need. And the bag has to hold a phone, a few trinkets and definitely a lipstick or lip gloss. It all varies and it is all important.
How do you pull together a look that matches the celebrity’s brand?
It is no different than when you are shopping for a friend. You think of them, what they like, what tells their story, what makes them feel wonderful and confident.
What is one of the favorite looks you’ve created for a celebrity?
One of my favorite looks was Saoirse Ronan in Alessandra Rich, just off the runway, with Manolo Blahnik shoes and the most fabulous Giampiero Bodino earrings at the BFI London Film Festival Screening of “On Chesil Beach.” What I liked about this look was how strong and modern it was, yet totally feminine. It emphasized Saoirse’s beautiful legs, and was followed by another recent favorite look, Saoirse’s Ralph & Russo black long beaded RTW dress and the glorious turquoise Irene Neuwirth earrings at the ninth annual Governors Awards.
Can you share a fashion disaster story, such as a dress falling apart, e.g. Julia Roberts needing a safety pin, or the dress not fitting at the last minute? Anonymous, of course.
It was the Met Ball, within the last two years and we definitely won’t name names. We had five girls about to leave the hotel to go on the carpet. [We were] having a great time getting everyone ready and RRRRRRRRRRIP. A dress seam splits. With no time left, no tailor available, we had only one choice [which was] to sew the girl into the dress while on the move. Phew, mission accomplished. Or so we thought … Until she got home and had to be cut out of the dress. Needless to say, this dress has been retired.
What do celebrities do to prepare the day before? Spa treatments? Juice cleanses?
Everyone has their own routine. Now most people have this as their monthly regime, from facials to lymphatic massages to colonics to B12 shots/IV drips to manicures to pedicures to body scrubs to meditation to yoga/pilates. You name it, it gets done.
What do you do once the celebrity hits the red carpet?
I thank my team, the designers and their team, and everyone else involved. I also check Instagram and live coverage simultaneously. And then Facetime with my family, who are in London.
Who are some of your favorite designers?
I like to support as many designers as possible, whether it is their first season or their 30th. Picking a favorite designer is like picking a favorite child. It is just not possible.
P.S. … I really do love Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Chanel, DVF, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Erdem, Ralph & Russo, Valentino, The Row, Chloe, Oscar de la Renta, Christopher Kane, Rodarte [and] Brandon Maxwell.
Do you ever dress a celebrity to match the film or show for which they are nominated, such as an homage to the film?
No, I tend to show support more in the form of a good luck charm. There is normally a secret message, monogram, memento or trinket somewhere on the dress, in the bag or on the shoe.
In the age of the selfie, what are some good styling tips for taking photographs?
Not being the queen of selfies, I can tell you the best thing is not to overthink it. People just want original content and to know what is going on. I do know shooting from above usually gives the best results. Instagram: @teamsaltzman
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Feature Image: Elizabeth Saltzman (Photo by Walter Chin)