There have been plenty of jaw-dropping moments on the red carpet—some even inspiring their own Twitter accounts, like @AngiesRightLeg after Angelina Jolie dared to bare in Atelier Versace at the 2012 Academy Awards—but none more so than award-winning actress Emma Watson’s show-stopping Christian Dior Couture navy wool cigarette pants and backless red silk dress at the 2014 Golden Globes.
“I was a little nervous about it for a big awards show,” shared Watson with The Hollywood Reporter after her stylist Sarah Slutsky was named one of the magazine’s Power Stylists in 2014. “I had another option in case I chickened out, but I didn’t.” Watson goes on to describe Slutsky as both “very young” and “very cool.”
Slutsky, 30, has since become a multifaceted stylist, working on everything from editorials and lookbooks to campaigns and adverts, even finding time to mentor young designers. She regularly styles VIPs, including clients like the above—mentioned Watson (Harry Potter franchise, Beauty & The Beast); Elizabeth Olsen (Wind River, Ingrid Goes West); Rachel Brosnahan (House of Cards); Crystal Reed (Gotham, Teen Wolf); Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek: Discovery, The Walking Dead), and more.
I met Slutsky in 2011 when she offered me my first “real” internship in the fashion editorial department at Vogue magazine, where she was an assistant. We were both Chicago girls and she took a chance on me.
“My experience at Vogue was incredible,” says Slutsky. “It taught me to stay on my toes and to always keep my eyes open. I learned how to find a solution for every scenario and to think creatively. At Vogue, I found there was something to learn from every experience, and I’m very grateful.” Slutsky may have learned those things from Vogue, but I learned them from her and for that, I’m grateful.
Slutsky found her start in fashion at a young age and can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to work in the industry. She even pursued a degree in fashion design: product development at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.
“My Nonnie and I would spend a lot of time together looking at fashion magazines, painting and strolling through boutiques on the North Shore,” Slutsky recalls. “I loved every part of it: looking at a woman in clothes, trying on different pieces, and witnessing a woman in a fitting room extract a different part of herself. Since a young age, I was aware of the transformative power of an outfit.”
Slutsky still loves wandering local neighborhoods when she’s home to see what’s new and is currently “obsessed” with menswear brand Mildblend Supply Co. in Wicker Park. But first things first—straight from the airport, she and her dad head to the Bongo Room on Milwaukee Avenue for pancakes. She’s a Midwest girl at heart, after all.
And being from the Midwest means Slutsky knows a thing or two about dressing for winter. “I love tights (Commando has a great selection) and socks (love Hansel from Basel) at the moment,” she explains. “I’ve added a bunch of sheers with tinsel French dots, little hearts, and metallic to my wardrobe in order to spruce up some of my favorite staples. I also love velvet and keep velvet ribbon on hand constantly. I tie it in my hair; I use it for belts—my clients laugh at my ribbon collection. Also, a great jacket/blazer (Racil) in velvet, faux fur (Frame Denim), or an unexpected metallic or leather (The Arrivals) can come to the rescue during the holidays.”
Last year, Slutsky styled the holiday campaign for designer Sachin & Babi and yes, there were plenty of hair bows. But when asked if she has a favorite designer, she explains it’s not about her. “I have a personal style that’s interpreted through what I wear every day but as a stylist, you’re working for somebody else,” says Slutsky. “I love listening to my clients’ hopes, dreams, and wishes and then working together to build the perfect narrative via a look.”
For this reason, Slutsky finds it critical to look at all brands/designers (“literally every designer listed on Vogue.com”) for each project to discover a new solution, and she’s humbled to work with so many of them. In-between Vogue and styling, Slutsky freelanced with many industry veterans and well-known brands, such as Tory Burch, Madewell, and the Editorialist. She also helped launch Cinematique, a technology start-up that makes videos touchable, explorable, and shapeable for clients including Net-a-Porter, Gap, Stella McCartney, and more.
“I once heard an editor at Vogue say you have to keep looking forward,” says Slutsky. “I value each project and try to look at every job and experience with fresh eyes. I feel very fortunate for every opportunity and feel I have so much to keep working toward.”
She explains the most important part of her job is to show up with open ears, and she views styling as a continuous collaboration. “I’ve always loved how clothes communicate and tell stories,” explains Slutsky. “I love the relationship to history and see styling as a reflection of society, culture, and current events.”
Slutsky laughs that there’s always a next, though. “I wake up every day not knowing what the day might bring,” she says. “I’m a lucky woman.”
To see more of Slutsky’s work, visit her on Instagram at @sarahslutsky or contact The Wall Group, thewallgroup.com.