If you’re a celebrity looking for a fantastic red carpet outfit with a twist, there are two numbers on the stylist speed-dial to call, not one: Mariel Haenn and Rob Zangardi’s. That’s the number that Jennifer Lopez, who stops off in Dubai on November 22, called when she needed a wardrobe for her massive Love Again world tour.
“She’s a dream client,” the styling duo said by email. “She can pull off any look and is amazing in everything she wears.”
Haenn and Zangardi have been working together for over five years, since hitting the big time after styling Rihanna for her Umbrella video, and bring a fashion-meets-music flavour to the red carpet and music videos (the pair met while working for MTV). This week they were in Dubai to launch and giving styling tips at Souq Fashion, a new addition to the UAE-based website souq.com, which retails new pieces from designer celebrity favourites in the UK and US as well as Middle Eastern designers — 80 designers in total. Haenn and Zangardi’s favourites? “Marchesa, Michael Kors, Alexander Wang and The Row.”
Q: You’ve famously styled Jennifer Lopez who is headed our way next month for her UAE debut. We’re really excited to see what she’ll be wearing. Tell us about her tour outfits?
A: We partnered up with [Lebanese designer] Zuhair Murad to help design her costumes for this tour. Each section of the show has a big wardrobe change. This defiantly gives Jennifer’s fashion fans something to look for — from fully rhinestone [covered] sweatsuits and NY baseball hats, to hand beaded catsuits — every look is a showstopper.
Q: What’s Lopez like to work with? Does she take all of your input on board? What are her style inputs?
She’s a dream client. She can pull off any look and is amazing in everything she wears. She’s been fortunate to wear so many amazing designers over the years, so she really knows what looks good on her body too. When we do our fittings we lay down our favourite options as head to toe looks and Jennifer picks her favourites from those. It’s a collaborative effort for sure.
Q: Are there designers you always turn to for Lopez? Is there anything she would not wear?
A: She is open to try anything. We love Lanvin, Gucci, Marchesa. Her line for [US high street store] Kohl’s has some really great pieces that she wears all the time.
Q: You also styled Ciara’s latest video, Sorry. Both Ciara and Jen are very body conscious musicians; do you have to take their dance moves into account?
A: Ciara is so beautiful, and she can move. We always have to take into account what our clients are doing before we fit — not only for dancing but for everything — jewellery making noise, how fabrics lay when you are sitting or walking, patterns that will buzz on camera, belt buckles that could scratch guitars, to danceable shoes and knee pads. It’s definitely a science.
Q: Do you have to alter items for them?
A: Tailoring is our best friend — it’s the best way to make an outfit your own.
Q: How have paparazzi and the “best dressed” culture changed styling?
A; Paparazzi and tabloids have definitely changed fashion forever. Not only does it change the way the client sees each look, but it also changes the way designers are designing. For good and for bad — it keeps us on our toes but also allows the world to see just about everything.
Q: Have you ever seen your work on a best- or worst-dressed list, and how does that make you feel?
A: We have the fortune of working with clients that are willing to take fashion risks. So we never take it into account when we are styling — but its always fun to see who’s talking. We once had an outfit as worst dressed in one of the weekly tabloids, and that same week the same outfit was best dressed in Vogue.
Q: Has someone ever absolutely refused to wear what you’ve chosen?
A: Knock on wood — we’ve been really lucky.
Q:How often are clothes gifted to stars vs the clothes being paid for?
A: Most of the time, we borrow from the designers directly for events. This way we are staying ahead of fashion curve and using merchandise that isn’t available to consumers until the following year.
Q: Is there any rivalry among stylists?
A: Just like anything in the entertainment industry, this is definitely a competitive career. But you won’t see it from us — we love to support other stylists and costume designers.
Q: How do you work as a team? Who does what?
A: We’ve been working together for so many years now that its second nature to us. We really tend to do everything together.
Q: You have a jewellery collection in the works.
A: We do — and are so excited about it. Right now we are selling our “i love me” ring on robandmariel.com — you may have seen it on Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Charlize Theron, Lily Collins, Rachel Mcadams or Gwen Stefani. Not only is it a statement and conversation piece, but such a great daily reminder to love yourself.
Q: Who do YOU love to wear?
A: Rob: Neil Barrett, Thom Browne, J Crew, APC, Alden and Marc Mcnairy.
Mariel: Givenchy, Lanvin, Helmut Lang, Alexander Wang and Nike.
Q: Which are the looks you are most proud of from your celebrity styling? Rihanna, at the 2009 Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Gala ball in a Dolce and Gabbana tuxedo.
Rachel Mcadams in red Marchesa at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011.
Jennifer Lopez in fuchsia Gucci at the 2011 Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Gala ball.
No Doubt’s new album cover, Push & Shove.