UltraLuxe Meets A-List Stylist Elizabeth Saltzman
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I started off as a sales girl in a clothing store. In some respects I was a stylist but with a goal of selling something. I wasn't a brilliant sales person, though, as I’d always talk people out of buying something if they didn’t look good in it. Even then, I knew I had an eye.
My celebrity styling work started through Giancarlo Giammetti and Valentino. They suggested I work with Gwyneth Paltrow when she was in London. She’s a wonderful person and already had great style – she was just looking for someone to tailor it more to her. To work together as a team was, and still is, so much fun. Styling Gwyneth Paltrow in a white Tom Ford cape for the 84th Oscars ceremony was such an iconic moment for me.
I love pushing the bar when it comes to styling. Julia Garner recently wore an Off-White dress that Naomi Cambell went down the runway in only the week prior. Both are wonderfully talented women, but to watch Julia look so beautiful in a dress that was worn by a supermodel only a few days earlier was very special.
When I first meet someone, I want to hear what they love about themselves. It’s also important to find out what they don’t like about themselves – but I try to build their confidence by getting them to see their insecurities from a different perspective. The words you use are so important in this job.
I’ve refined the way I dress over time. The pandemic helped me simplify my life and focus on what was important. I’ve always been an editor, so I spent a lot of time editing my wardrobe and realised just how little I needed – only a uniform of interchangeable pieces. For me, it's very classic and there’s a lot of navy and white. It’s exciting to go shopping, but I like each piece to be really thought out and deserving of a space in my wardrobe.
I tend to shop when I travel, especially in culturally different places like Dakar, Seoul and Costa Rica. Mexico is one of my favourite shopping destinations because of all of the history and all the art, and the Middle East also has some rocking designers right now. India blew me away, too – Sabyasachi is an incredible designer.
André Leon Talley once ordered me to put on a dress. We were in Paris covering the couture shows and I had packed all wrong. André and I were invited to Mr Lagerfeld’s house for dinner and I didn’t know what to wear, so he suggested we find something in the archives. There was a navy chiffon dress – short at the front with three tiers and a long train – and while I said it wasn’t for me, he insisted I try it on. No one’s really ordered me around like that before, but to this day it’s one of my favourite dresses.
I love the way Ralph Lauren does denim – and the way Tom Ford wears denim; he just looks fantastic. I like classic brands like Wrangler and Lee and then more contemporary brands such as Frame, Mother and Citizens of Humanity. I love the idea of a Canadian tuxedo – jeans with a denim shirt. In fact, if I could swap wardrobes with anyone it would be Tom Ford. He always looks immaculate. I wish I could be that pulled together!
I have a black velvet cape from Tom Ford which I wear time and again. I team it with a long white dress from Calvin Klein underneath – it’s my signature going out look. I think Calvin Klein has made about 17 of these dresses for me, all in different colours. It’s really become a formula for me. I remember feeling really good at Valentino’s birthday in Lisbon where I wore my white dress, a tiara, the black cape and my David Webb brooch.
Gabriela Hearst and Stella McCartney are two brands that know how to do luxury without hurting the planet. Other designers I love include Emilia Wickstead (when there’s not a floral on it), McQueen, Christopher John Rogers, LaQuan Smith and Jason Wu. Julie de Libran is also a great lesser-known source and I really enjoy supporting young designers like Sa Su Phi, Tove, Issue Twelve, Giuliva Heritage, Destree and Burc Akyol.
I love a tuxedo on a woman – whether it’s Bella Freud or Saint Laurent. I wear Michael Kors tailored trousers and navy blazers all the time – they just have to have a certain lapel and button. There are about five I love – including one from Gucci, which is probably my favourite. I also love classic American brands like Brooks Brothers.
Prada does the best navy blue. I’m always able to find things there. MaxMara and Loro Piana also offer a truly classic colour palette but not in a boring way. I like to mix those brands with less expensive labels like La DoubleJ and Tory Burch.
Simple layering pieces are a key part of my wardrobe. I often turn to G Label – which is Gwyneth’s line – and Nili Lotan has some incredible pieces, too. There’s a brand called Bassike that I love, and Leset is so smart. Jewellery also helps me switch up my uniform. I was given an incredible piece from Tom Ford which I truly treasure and I have a Tiffany necklace called The Claw by Elsa Peretti which I will love forever.
If I could raid the fashion archives of the past few decades, I’d love to get my hands on one of Gaultier’s tuxedo dresses. Saint Laurent’s velvet tuxedo jackets were also so on point, and I’m still thinking about several Chanel dresses from seasons past. I have a mental rolodex of Chanel pieces that I wasn’t brave enough to buy at the time.
Anya Hindmarch and I joke about how much I like to hold onto things. I bought a white fur muff about 20 years ago from her and it has been to so many Oscar parties, events and award shows with me. It just works with everything.
I love classic, pretty shoes. The last pair I took off were black suede knee-high Jimmy Choo boots with a three-inch heel and pointed toe – they’re a classic. As for other shoe brands, Manolo Blahnik, Paul Andrew and Alexandre Birman are all great. I also love Chanel and Louboutin, even though the latter aren’t always the easiest to wear.
A Chanel bag is my must-have accessory and I like the fabric ones the best. I have a big canvas Hermès bag, too, which thankfully most people don’t recognise. Also, you can’t beat a classic Gucci bag – anything with the bamboo handle or the Jackie.
Follow @ElizabethSaltzman on Instagram.
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