Photo: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Every award season brings a succession of seemingly flawless celebrities down the red carpet. But how do they do it? What does it really take to create such perfection? And how do some unfortunate stars end up on a "worst-dressed" list?
Some of the people responsible for making the magic happen -- from make-up and dresses to bodies that wear it all so well -- have the answers.
One of the first things I make them promise is ‘no more spinning classes!’ Spinning really flattens your butt.
- Joey Gonzalez, Celebrity Fitness Trainer, Barry's Bootcamp New York.
1 Month Before
A month ahead of a big red carpet event can be crucial when it comes to getting in shape for those figure-skimming gowns. Joey Gonzalez, a celebrity fitness trainer and co-owner of Barry's Bootcamp workout studio in New York, counts Jessica Biel, Jake Gyllenhaal, Katie Holmes and Kim Kardashian among his bootcamp clients.
Gonzalez says one of the biggest "wants" of celebrities lately is a round, high butt like Pippa Middleton or Jennifer Lopez.
“One of the first things I make them promise is ‘no more spinning classes!’" Gonzalez said. "Spinning really flattens your butt."
Another highly desirable attribute is the flat stomach. For this, Gonzalez recommends a combination of cardio interval training strength training and good nutrition.
“The stomach pooch is always the last place to go," he said. "That’s why they call it the spare tire. Less than desirable abdominals usually have to do with body fat percentage, and anything that I recommend is always in addition to the interval cardiovascular that you should already be doing. Never stop that. You need at least 30 minutes of that four to five times per week.”
With a packed schedule and constant travel, celebrities often rely on a food delivery program to control their dietary input before a big red carpet event.
“I’m really into food delivery programs,” Gonzalez said. “The one I like is based on The Zone diet, which is really about balanced eating. People need to get out of the habit of eliminating an entire food group. I’ve grown tired of these ‘no carb’ plans. Obviously processed carbohydrates like white bread and sugar are never a good thing. You should avoid these all the time as they are not a natural thing for our bodies to process, but some good carbs are healthy and essential.”
Meanwhile, celebrities also need to book their stylist, make-up artist, hair stylist and nail technician ahead of time as awards season can be so hectic that the best people are in high demand.
Celebrity stylist Joshua Seth is extremely busy around awards season. He works hard to ensure his clients get the best dresses straight off the runway.
"A month before the event I will go through the trends with my client," Seth said. "Then I start contacting designers and asking if they would like to dress whomever I’m working with. They send over sketches or runway photos of the dresses they have in mind."
A key concern is preventing his celebrity clients from wearing a dress that has been seen on a different star before.
"You have to make 100 percent sure that nobody has ever worn it before," he said. "Mistakes do happen, though, and people can get fired if a dress gets worn twice on the red carpet!"
However, Seth says sometimes celebrities actually deliberately try to wear a dress that's already been worn by another star.
"It's a very easy way to get into a tabloid on a ‘who wore it better?’ page," he said. "It’s a quick and easy way to get a little exposure with your picture next to Lindsay Lohan, Cameron Diaz or Anne Hathaway or whoever was wearing the same dress. But a lot of designers won’t play that game, so that can be a tricky situation."
Tracy Clemens, a nail technician who has worked with Rihanna among other famous faces, spends the month before a red carpet encouraging clients to take care of regular maintenance.
"I encourage my clients to make sure they’re getting regular manicures and pedicures," she said. "I suggest at least once every two weeks, beginning six weeks to a month out from a big event. This keeps the dryness of the feet under control. Most celebrities wear open-toed shoes on the red carpet, where you can see the back of the heels. Keeping your feet well-moisturized means you won’t see cracking and dryness on the heels or dry cuticles."
For Kate Somerville, a facialist who counts Anna Paquin and Lea Michele among her clients, the month before an event is the time when lasers and peels should be done, where necessary. If the celebrity is using Botox or injectable fillers, they should get these out of the way at this time.
"Avoid using injectable fillers right before an event because you might get some minor swelling, bruising and short-term redness," Somerville said.
One popular pre-event treatment is laser resurfacing.
"Pearl is a laser treatment that reduces wrinkles, pore size, fine lines, uneven texture, sun damage and pigmentation," Somerville said. "For general tightening and brightening, the treatment will give you a very smooth texture in about seven days, but you need recovery time."
She warns clients that some treatments will mean they need to stay out of sight for up to two weeks.
"Peels will cause your face to be red for up to two weeks," Somerville said. "However, you’ll see an improvement in the color, freshness and texture of your complexion."
1 Week Before
A week before the big event, Gonzalez is busy telling clients to cut the salt out of their diet.
"Maintaining low sodium intake is key to looking the best you can as it will eliminate pounds of excess water retention," he said.
"I tell them to cut salt out of their diet and drink lots of water at the same time," Gonzalez said. "Lots of water helps you metabolize food better, but if you are still eating too much salt, you'll be bloated.
One week before is also the time when Seth is fitting his clients into their borrowed designer gowns. Since designer pieces are sample size, which tend to be of tiny, runway model proportions, sometimes they don’t fit the actress in question.
“I’ve seen tailors do amazing things," Seth said, "like open up a jacket that was a size 2 and make it fit a size 8 and then close it back up, take the extra fabric out and Moschino [the designer] was none the wiser!"
Seth also prefers to make the shoe and jewelry choice at this stage. This means considering how they look with the dress and talking to hair and make-up people about their vision for the star.
"All these things factor into each other," he said. "If it doesn’t all work together, it ruins everything."
Somerville's facial treatments can come into full play the week before the event, prepping her clients' skin to look flawless and dewy in the spotlight.
"DermalQuench Oxygen Therapy is one of the most popular treatments at the clinic," Somerville said.
The process starts with exfoliation, she says, using enzymes and gentle acids on the skin. An airbrush applicator then pushes a vitamin-and-hyaluronic acid serum into the skin cells. After that, she'll lock in hydration with a moisturizer chock full of peptides and rich emollients, among other ingredients.
But this isn't the only treatment option, particularly if the client needs a quick payoff.
"A microcurrent treatment is also great before a big event, as the results are immediate," she said. "Microcurrents are very small electrical impulses that mimic those naturally occurring in the body. They trigger chemical reactions at the cellular level to encourage the production of collagen and elastin, as well as help to bring oxygen to the skin cell by enhancing circulation.
At her clinic, Somerville says this is a particularly popular treatment among celebrities, as "it also works to re-educate muscles and lift them back into shape."
If clients really want a triple whammy of pre-event treatments, they can also try a skin-thickening laser.
"Titan is a simple laser procedure that heats the dermis, adding thickness to the skin," Somerville said. "It stimulates your collagen to tighten sagging and reduce wrinkles and can be used on your face and neck. I frequently recommend the Titan for my celeb clients because there is absolutely no downtime. It’s so safe that we can even do it the night before the Oscars and the Emmy Awards."
On The Day Of
The morning of a big red carpet event usually sees the stars' homes abuzz with hair, make-up, manicurists, stylists, managers, assistants and friends and family.
Make-up artist Sharon Gault has worked with everyone from Kate Bosworth to Lady Gaga. She usually arrives at the client's home or hotel room at around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. the morning of the event.
"I'll come in with my assistant, and we like to set up a happy atmosphere," she said. "The most important thing is often to keep the client relaxed and happy. It's my job to make them feel the best they can feel.
"On the day, I'll talk with the hairdresser, and we'll discuss the entire look," she said. "Then I'll have about two hours to get the client ready. Often I try to not talk to keep a sense of calm, but other times chatting is nice for the client. I just recently worked with Selma Blair and she has a new baby, and I'm a mom, so I was so excited about her new baby, but it just depends on the situation, you have to feel it out."
Fortunately, last-minute changes and time crunches don't bother Gault.
"If you're in a rush, as long as you have good eyes and lips you're good. But I can work pretty fast -- I've done a lot of fashion shows where there's no time!"
Gault is also sure to send the client off well-armed for the long day and evening ahead.
"I always have the latest, newest products sent to me so I'll always give [the client] the product I'm using for touch-ups in the limo on the way there or between after parties," she said.
Around the same time that make-up and hair is being done, Clemens is working on the client's nails.
"Last year, I did Amy Adams’ nails for the Golden Globes and the SAG awards," Clemens said. "I used a Chanel color called Jade Rose -- a beautiful natural nude color. This year, my hot colors will be Chanel's new range called April, May and June."
If something goes wrong and the client smudges the color, it’s all in a day’s work for Clemens.
“I don’t leave until the nails are dry and the client is 100 percent satisfied," she said. "I also leave the client the polish for retouching just in case. It’s just a nice gesture if they loved the color.”
Although she'll completely re-do the client's nail if there's a smudge or chip, Clemens provided a tip for those of us doing our own nails.
“If you have a last-minute smudge, use an artist's paintbrush or even the tip of your finger to dab a little acetone on the top of the nail to ‘blur’ the finish, then you can reapply a coat of color.
And Clemens certainly knows how to work under pressure.
“Last year I got a last-minute call from a client to do their nails right before a red carpet," she said. "The hair and make-up people and the stylist were working on her already and everyone was frantic, including the client. I had nowhere to sit and no space and only had a very short time. In the end I sat on the floor in front of her with almost no light to see, but the client was happy and that was what mattered to me. I have to be very professional and just make it work no matter what."
Nails aren't the only possible last-minute snags. Enter the dreaded pimple. If a celebrity wakes up with one on the big day, Somerville urges them not to attempt to pop it, as this can cause redness and swelling.
Instead, wrap an ice cube in a thin cloth or paper towel, she says. Then let it sit on the blemish for a few minutes.The ice serves to reduce inflammation and redness. Somerville also recommends taking an anti-inflammatory, like aspirin, to help reduce swelling
If the celebrity has had a sleepless night or been out late partying, Somerville has a few other quick-fix remedies readily available in the kitchen.
"Grab a cool potato from the fridge," she said. "Chop it into very small pieces and bind them in two pieces of cheesecloth, then place those on your eyes for 10 minutes.
"Another thing that works are tea bags. Steep two bags of green tea in hot water and allow them to cool. Lie down and place one bag over each eye. The caffeine in the tea will help tighten the tissue and reduce puffiness. Or place two spoons in the fridge or freezer for 15 to 30 minutes and then lay them across your eyes for about five minutes. The cold metal will help de-puff and reduce tired circles."
While the client is being coiffed, manicured and made up, Seth is busy getting ready for the final, vital step: dressing the client.
"My assistant will make sure the dress is perfectly steamed and they have the right undergarments for the dress or Spanx, if they want them," he said. "Then once they’re in the dress, they do not sit! I make sure they have everything they need in their clutch or bag, whether it’s double-stick tape or nipple covers or anything else they may need."
Possibly the most important step, next to actually wearing the dress, is remembering who made it. That's why Seth puts a little cheat sheet in client's bag that includes the name of the designers they're wearing, so they can answer the inevitable question from red-carpet reporters.
"It’s worthless if they don’t remember," he says."And if they get it wrong, it’s really harmful -- it drives the fashion publicists crazy."
Once the celebrity is pampered and preened to perfection, it's time for these miracle workers to pack up and go home.
"I go to my fashion closet and watch the red carpet on TV," he said. "Then I go to sleep for about a week and a half!"