A personal stylist can be everything from an image architect to a trusted confidant, and this season, celebrity stylists have been charged with reimagining the entire concept of red carpet fashion. As the 93rd Academy Awards arrive with a promise of returning to in-person awards glamour, Vanity Fair is catching up with six celebrity stylists who have continued, despite everything, to create looks that inspire us.
With a wide range of clients that includes Michael B. Jordan, Cynthia Erivo, Yara Shahidi, Amanda Gorman, Trevor Noah, Janet Mock, Ava DuVerney, and many more, Jason Bolden is a force to be reckoned with. The St. Louis native once thought he would become a doctor, but eventually the world of fashion came calling—“I did not decide, it kind of chose me,” as Bolden puts it. During Art Basel nearly ten years ago, Bolden’s friend Gabrielle Union asked him to pull some things from his vintage clothing store in New York City. The dress, a vintage Lanvin maxi, was picked up by media outlets, and a stylist career was born.
But Bolden has always been immersed in the fashion world, digging deep into clothes and style and, most importantly, being in tune with what his clients want. “I don’t really pay attention to what they’re wearing,” he said. “I begin to listen to them and that’s the missing link. Like fashion in general, I think we decide to enforce these laws and not really hear what the person actually wants or does not want.”
When it comes to dressing his clients, Bolden is so sure about what he wants that he only brings one, sometimes two, dresses to a fitting. “The one thing that is very obvious to me, I like to stay away from things that just don’t politically feel right—physically, socially, emotionally,” he said. “I like to suggest things to my clients that everybody else, when they see it walk down the runway, they say no.”
Though the past year has brought its share of challenges, Bolden said he was lucky to stay busy. In the pre-pandemic days, he said, “You get the excitement—you’re sitting there waiting for the first Getty image to load. Or you are waiting for a fan account to leak the first photo? You know, that anticipation, I feel like is what I miss about it. But the magic to the shift is that everybody has to come back and adjust to humanity in the sense of being like, is all this stuff that we love and we talk about, we forget that these are actual, real people. A lot of talent dreaded carpet. And now I feel like everyone is kind of a bit at ease. So I think for me what has changed is the anticipation. And I feel like we work so much harder now too.”
Jason knows just what it takes to make a statement look. Take a peek at his top five essential items everyone should have:
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