With Hollywood’s awards season under way, fans will see plenty of stunning gowns, sculpted bodies, flawless skin and camera-ready coifs on red carpets around town.
What they won’t see are the industrial-strength girdles, silicone nipple covers, fake hair and skin treatments beneath those flawless facades.
Stylists work overtime during the six-week stretch from the Golden Globes to the Oscars, and it typically takes a team to ready stars for their stroll down the red-carpet runway. Some of Hollywood’s most-coveted image experts took time out to share their best style secrets with The Associated Press.
The first step? A body-enhancing airbrush tan, says spray-tanner-to-the-stars Jimmy Coco, who expects to wield his tanning wand at least 100 times before the Academy Awards.
These tans do more than lend a healthy glow. They can add muscle definition where none exists, says Coco, who has worked with Eva Longoria, Jennifer Garner, Jenny McCarthy and Lara Flynn Boyle.
“If they haven’t quite been to the gym, I can make it look as though they have,” he says. “I give them an even glow and lightly etch in where the muscle is.”
Bodyshapers to the rescue
Next come body-shaping undergarments. Stylists swear by Spanx, a brand of bodyshapers that promise to “rescue women from love handles, waistline spillage and cellulite,” according to the company’s Web site.
“They go from under your bustline to the top of your knee,” says celebrity stylist Inge Fonteyne, who has worked with models Gisele Bundchen and Adriana Lima. “It compacts all your blemishes you want to smooth out. The key is to be seamless and bumpless.”
Breasts have their own set of needs. Busty beauties who want to wear backless gowns often turn to self-sticking “bras” like Frederick’s of Hollywood’s new Flex Body Bra, made of adhesive-backed silicone cups that fit separately over each breast.
Contoured silicone pads called “cutlets” can also be slipped into a bra to give smaller busts a boost.
Less-endowed women might go braless but opt for some kind of nipple cover to maintain modesty. These days, stores sell silicone versions that are undetectable under dresses, but stylists and stars weren’t always so fortunate.
“We would literally put cotton balls on clients and put (tape) on top of the cotton ball,” says stylist Estee Stanley, who helped develop Frederick’s Flex Body Bra. “It was like a science project.”
Fonteyne recalls once putting tape over a model’s nipples — “definitely the most painful and crazy” trick she’s used.
Tape is still a critical part of a stylist’s toolbox. Surgical (or even electrical) tape can be wrapped beneath the breasts, squashing them together to create cleavage. But double-stick tape is even more popular. Stylists use it to hold spaghetti straps in place, keep loose dresses close to the skin and prevent plunging necklines from becoming pornographic. Before companies made special two-sided tape for fashion use, stylists relied on a brand of toupee tape called Topstick.
Natural fabrics are easily marred by sweat, so stars plan ahead to keep palms and armpits from perspiring.
“With a silk dress, anything you touch will make a stain,” Fonteyne says. “One drop spreads like it’s the ocean under your arm.”
Keep dry ... with botox
One solution is botox, which paralyzes overactive glands to temporarily stop sweating. Another is Drysol, a prescription treatment Fonteyne swears by that “dries up” sweat glands.
Then there’s the hair. Stars weren’t born with the lush manes you see on the red carpet. It’s all about extensions, says Hollywood hairdresser Michael Shaun Corby, creative director for Alterna haircare.
“Celebrities get extensions like crazy for Oscar season because they want their hair to be thicker,” he says.
Stars who don’t want to make a major commitment might opt for “hair for a day,” he says: quick, clip-on extensions that can be removed at the end of the night.
Corby even uses extra hair for updos. He wraps hair clippings in a hairnet and stuffs that inside buns and chignons “for that huge, full look.”
Corby would use ironing starch to tame hair static in a pinch before Alterna developed an antistatic hair spray, he says.
Men have it easy on the red carpet. Their fashions aren’t figure-flaunting so they can forego almost all of the above. But they still have to look their best, so most wear makeup, Coco says. Still, male red-carpet preparation pales compared to the Aphroditean efforts female stars make.
“They can’t look that great all the time,” he says. “They go the extra mile for a red-carpet event. From the toenails to the tips of the strands of their hair, every inch of their body has had something done.”