Celebrities often make red-carpet appearances look easy as they breeze by photographers with perfect smiles, well-coiffed hair, and beautiful dresses that have been tailored to fit every inch of their bodies like a glove.
But there's a lot of behind-the-scenes work — and secret deals with fashion designers — that goes into getting a celebrity looking perfect for the red carpet and its awaiting flashbulbs.
Celebrity stylists Jessica Paster, Erin Walsh, Brad Goreski, and Brandon Maxwell recently sat down with The Cut senior editor Isabel Wilkinson at the Vulture Festival to discuss a side of the business that is rarely talked about — the financials.
Oftentimes, designers pay celebrities and their stylists for a certain dress to be worn at a big event.
While stylists Goreski and Maxwell said they've never been offered money to dress an A-list client, Paster painted a very different picture.
"It's prevalent across the board," said Paster, whose clients have included Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Miranda Kerr, Sandra Bullock, and Rachel McAdams, among many others. "Jewelry people are paying, shoe people are paying, tampon companies are paying, everyone is paying!"
When it comes to celebrity dressing, Paster says the financial breakdown looks something like this:
"It could be just paying the stylist and we get anywhere between $30,000 to $50,0000. Or it's paying the actress something between $100,000 and $250,000."
But, she warns, "Nothing is ever signed, if a dress works, it works. But if the dress looks awful on a client, $250,000 or less is not worth wearing it."
"If it looks gorgeous on you and this is the dress we were going to pick anyway, why not be paid?" asked Paster, explaining that she prefers to call paid relationships between celebrities and brands "ambassadorships."
"They're ambassadorships and you start relationships with them [the brand], and then eventually, the actress often does get a campaign from them because they have a relationship with her," explains Paster.
"I don't seek these things out, but I think you put the most beautiful dress on the girl and if you get paid that's a plus," Paster continued. "I'm not going to use a dress that's not right for a girl and get paid, that's wrong. I always tell my assistants, don't worry about the money the money will come, just do a beautiful job."
Celebrity stylist Goreski admits that brands often do pay to be showcased on the red carpet.
"If someone shows up to the Oscars in a black dress and huge statement necklace, chances are they're being paid by a jewelry company," Goreski revealed.
But as for why the topic of celebs being paid to wear certain gowns is so hush-hush, Goreski thinks it's nobody else's business.
"Why do any of us need to know how they're making their money?" asked Goreski. "It's not like they're trafficking drugs, they're being paid to wear a dress. So what? If someone offered me $150,000 to show up in a beautiful custom made gown by X designer, I'd be like, 'Where do I sign?!'"
Maxwell summed it up quite nicely: "The whole point of an actress having a stylist is so you can make more money, or more people want to hire you, or the brand that you're wearing is making more money because it's driving sales. It's all wrapped up in money — it's Hollywood — we're not at church."
Watch the full panel discussion below (discussion begins about 32:45):
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