Features: Conversation With...

Feb
2017

Forever Young

Celebrity stylist Kate Young showcases her fashion expertise with an upbeat and retro-inspired collection of eyewear from Tura


Kate Young is wearing KATE YOUNG FOR TURA Anais 119 from Tura


Photo By Stephen Mark Sullivan

By Victoria Garcia

Cameras are flashing. The paparazzi are shouting. Fans are screaming. Reporters are asking questions. Any awards show red carpet is hectic, fast paced and filled with well-dressed celebrities. Due to intense television network coverage of these events, we’re all well aware of what these red carpet procedures entail. But have you ever stopped to wonder what goes on before the red carpet? Amongst the Hollywood mayhem is where talented stylists, makeup artists and hairdressers come together to work their magic. They may not be the ones getting photographed by an endless sea of paparazzi, but they’re the ones working tirelessly to make sure these famous faces look picture perfect. Behind the scenes isn’t where all the action is, but it’s exactly where stylist Kate Young is in her element.

It all started with a young girl’s dream to work at a fashion magazine. Growing up in Pennsylvania, Young comes from a family of professors and teachers. She attended Oxford University where she studied English and art history, and eventually began working at a fashion PR firm in London. She kept with her dream to work in fashion and landed a job at Vogue as an assistant to Anna Wintour. “What I really aspired to do when I was a little kid was work at Vogue,” says Young. “When I was in college I was obsessed with Dorothy Parker, who was a writer at Vogue. So originally I thought I’d be a writer and that I’d write fashion at Vogue.” Contrary to this belief, Young never wrote an editorial piece at Vogue and found herself more intrigued with clothes than writing. Instead she was immersed in various positions and responsibilities at the magazine, allowing her to work her way up the corporate ladder. After assisting Wintour, Young started working on the magazine’s “People Are Talking About” section, which spotlighted actresses. Young then began assisting the market editor at Vogue, which involved calling in clothes and accessories for photo shoots. Unlike today with mostly contactless e-mail exchanges, this was done through extensive phone conversations, which allowed Young to develop relationships within the industry that still help her to this day. She also assisted Tonne Goodman on photo shoots. “I sort of think of Vogue as a finishing school or graduate school for me in fashion,” says Young. “I really loved clothes and fashion but I didn’t know technically a lot about it so working there I learned how the industry works. Your eye becomes refined just being around the women who work there. You just learn by osmosis a certain aesthetic.” Young put all of this experience to practice by styling the first cover of Teen Vogue, where she also became a contributing editor and at Interview, where she served as the fashion editor at large.

Young’s career has been on an uphill climb since her days at Vogue. She made The Hollywood Reporter’s 25 Most Powerful Stylists list from 2012 to 2016, taking the number one spot in both 2012 and 2016. She was also awarded Stylist of the Year by InStyle and received an ACE Award for her contributions to the accessories industry. These prestigious recognitions have allowed Young to build an impressive list of famous clients, including Selena Gomez, Dakota Johnson, Sienna Miller, Natalie Portman, Margot Robbie, Michelle Williams, Emilia Clarke and Felicity Jones. Many of these women top the coveted best dressed lists due to Young’s keen eye for style and her awareness of putting the needs of her clients first. She is responsible for some of the most memorable red carpet looks in recent years including the 2012 Academy Awards where she styled Michelle Williams in an orange Louis Vuitton dress for her nomination for “My Week With Marilyn,” and in 2016 when she styled Selena Gomez at the Grammys in a midnight blue Calvin Klein Collection gown. She also helped style other outstanding moments including Margot Robbie’s Tom Ford gold leather gown at the 2016 Oscars, Sienna Miller’s plunging Miu Miu dress at the 2015 Golden Globes and Dakota Johnson in a red Saint Laurent gown at the 2015 Academy Awards. Young is credited for evolving the styles of many of these clients throughout the years, particularly Gomez and Miller, who are said to be having fashion comebacks. All of these moments explain why Young exceeds the expectations of a stylist. In addition to red carpet dressing, Young also styles her clients’ press tours, high-profile appearances, events and premieres. “I have a lot of freedom,” she says. “I really like the women I work with. It’s really nice, and I’m genuinely excited to see them, and I have these relationships where we get to have fun—and this job is really fun. I love clothes. I like playing dress up, and talking about hair and makeup and shoes. I get to basically do that all the time, and some of my clients like it as much as I do so it becomes just really fun.”  Young takes a very well researched and thought out approach when styling each one of her clients. It’s important for her to understand what the task at hand is and how to execute it. “When I first meet with someone, I create an inspiration story board for them. When someone is going to do 30 appearances and having their hair and makeup done everyday, it’s really nice to have some sort of continuity between the looks, and doing a mood board or a book really helps the hair and makeup team; it helps everybody sort of get an idea of how it should go. It’s just fun to do. I like research.”

Red carpet styling isn’t the only place where Young shines. She is a rare stylist that expands her work ethic into many other endeavors. She styles various advertising campaigns, runway shows and magazine editorials, while collaborating with well-known photographers and designers. She has styled cover stories and inside features for publications including Glamour, InStyle and Porter, as well as campaigns for Olay, Pantene, Dior and Carolina Herrera. For runway shows, she works closely with designers such as Jason Wu, Derek Lam and Nina Ricci. Young has even stepped into the world of designing, first with a line of lingerie in Japan with a company called Triumph and then a knitwear line for women and children, which consisted of matching sweaters for babies and mothers. On the retail side, Young has consulted for brands such as Armani Exchange, Ann Taylor, Tod’s and Halston. In 2013, she collaborated with Target for an affordable and exclusive collection of party dresses, shoes and accessories. “People still tag me on Instagram going to their friend’s wedding in dresses from the collection.” This collaboration came to fruition due to a mood board Young created. “For awards season, I made this book of inspiration, and it kept growing and I kept working on it through the whole season. At the end of it, I had this book and I ended up showing it to Target, and that’s how the collaboration came about because they saw the book. I had the book bound, and it was sort of a substantial thing, and then somebody told the Assoulines about it, and that’s how the idea for my book came from making this inspiration board that was so epic.” An ode to Young’s love of research and fashion, Dressing for the Dark: From the Silver Screen to the Red Carpet finds inspiration from iconic fashion moments in film and explains why these particular eveningwear looks are so influential and relevant. A so-called guide for the everyday woman, Young offers her expertise and advice for dressing for the evening with images and illustrations as well as her own personal styling tips.

One of Young’s latest ventures finds her fulfilling the roles of designer, model and collaborator. Her eyewear collection, Kate Young for Tura teams Young with Tura, who she met through her former agent and immediately felt a connection with. The collection adds a more high-fashion element to the company’s portfolio. “I was really excited about them because they have such integrity in what they make. They are very specific about the way their business runs, and we all just got along. I really admire the way they do business,” says Young. The Kate Young for Tura collection consists of women’s sun and optical styles, featuring an array of colors, shapes and sizes with a few children’s styles mixed in. Young’s decision to create children’s styles came to mind when shopping for eyewear for one of her sons. The children’s frames offer a more classic look with proceeds from each frame donated to The Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the lives of children who struggle with learning disorders and mental health.

With a first collection already under her belt, Young is focused on debuting new and exciting styles that are similar to her aesthetic. “The thing with my personal style and these glasses is that I have to like them on me because we do the look books on me,” says Young. “I try everything on because if I hate the way this looks then I don’t want to make it. Everything is something that I would wear, and that’s kind of the way I do styling too. Everything is always a version of myself. If I were Sienna Miller, I would wear what she wears. I always pretend in my head that it’s me that I’m dressing, and I do that a little bit with these glasses too.” Young’s personal style is certainly emitted through these designs with fun CatEye and round shapes and intricate design details such as crystals, metal studs and mixed materials. The color palette of blush, beige, amber, tortoise and black is sophisticated yet retro and offers women a more chic look. With inspiration from Tura’s history, Young had a retro and vintage vibe in mind when creating these styles and updated one of the brand’s most popular styles with a more modern twist. Young herself is drawn to clunkier dark glasses that can be found throughout the collection. “I wear huge, clunky glasses all the time. There’s at least one clunky masculine in every collection. I also really like the pale pink glasses from the first collection, they’re one of my favorites. I feel like pale pink glasses are flattering, like makeup is.”  Not only do many of Young’s clients wear her eyewear styles, but many other celebrities and magazine editorials are including these fresh and exciting designs in their wardrobe picks. Michelle Williams was recently seen wearing Young’s popular CatEye sunglass style in Porter, while fashion websites went into a frenzy last year when Kendall Jenner was seen wearing the same style in white. “I’m proud of the glasses. I love that my clients like them and wear them. I really like that I’ve started recently seeing people on the street who I don’t know wearing them. It’s so exciting. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Young certainly has her hands full these days, but that hasn’t stopped her from continuing to create memorable fashion moments and design sought-after pieces. With awards season now in full swing, Young will be diligently getting her clients ready for the red carpet. “As soon as this time of year starts, that’s all I focus on. I have a couple of clients who are pretty likely to be nominated so basically now until March, I’ll just work on that.” Although Young has touched almost every aspect of the fashion industry, we’re certain there’s plenty more to come from this veteran stylist. We’ll be keeping our eyes open for new collaborations and exciting red carpet looks… maybe even with some Kate Young for Tura frames on our faces. ■



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