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Art of Style

Secrets of style: Rebecca Corbin-Murray

L-R: Florence Pugh, Gemma Chan and Lily James are among Corbin-Murray’s clients

The influential British stylist talks Oscars rituals, working your angles and Florence Pugh’s much-talked-about awards-season style

Fashion

Sartorial alchemist Rebecca Corbin-Murray is the stylist who helps actors including Florence Pugh, Gemma Chan and Lily James hone their head-turning red carpet looks. A country girl at heart, Corbin-Murray’s desire to pursue a career in fashion demanded that she move from her childhood home on the Channel Islands to London – and she hit the ground running. It wasn’t long after she arrived that Corbin-Murray landed a job at British Vogue, assisting then-fashion editor Charlotte Stockdale; from there she went on work with designer Andrea Lieberman, who, at the time, was dressing artists like Gwen Stefani and collaborating with B. Akerlund – Madonna’s costumier of choice. However, it was when Corbin-Murray moved to Paris and began a creative partnership with legendary photographer Ellen von Unwerth that her career took a decisive shift away from editorial work and towards celebrity styling. Corbin-Murray credits the photographer’s narrative style with inspiring her to work beyond still imagery and setting a new course for her career. Although Corbin-Murray maintains that back then, celebrity styling was looked down upon by the wider fashion world, her innate ability to create looks that are at once enchanting and effortless has made her one of the most sought-after names in the industry. Take your evening look up a notch with her fail-safe styling tricks…

Make dressing up fun

“I’ve been working with Florence Pugh for the last two years; it’s been a really great experience to collaborate with someone who is so fun and fearless with her look. She’s really open to experimenting and really enthusiastic about fashion – for Florence, it’s a means of self-expression. Her BAFTA gown, designed by Dries van Noten, was in the making for a long time. We first saw it as a sketch and had the first fitting just before Christmas. We decided a big red-carpet moment like the BAFTAs warranted a train and we both just fell in love with this look and the way it evoked a sense of modern Hollywood glamour. As for her Oscars outfit? It’s top secret! You’ll have to wait and see…”

Rebecca Corbin-Murray

Know yourself

“When it comes to styling, everyone has their own approach. There are so many amazing stylists out there doing brilliant work. The way I operate is to treat every woman as an individual and work with them to create their own style signature. Dressing someone and learning to intuit their taste demands a strong rapport – I find lots of chats and cups of tea help with that. To help someone find their ‘look’, you really need to distil their essence and figure out what makes them shine; it’s about making them feel powerful and smoking hot. It doesn’t matter whether I’m helping a client build their look from scratch or working with someone who is a really engaged fashion fan. Either way, the process is an ongoing evolution; I love watching my clients grow and change with different roles.”

Be ready for anything

“One skill that’s really important for styling is the ability to read the room. The mood when you’re dressing someone for a huge event like the Oscars can really vary – sometimes it’s mellow and relaxed, while other times it’s a riot; it’s totally dependent on who you’re working with. Everyone has their own rituals. When it comes to the major award ceremonies, I always encourage my clients to carry a few snacks in their purse, while my main concern is having a well-stocked kit bag with me – you never know what could happen.”

Own it

“When one of my clients steps out on the red carpet, all I want is for them to feel like the extraordinary woman that they are. Confidence and an understanding of which angles are most flattering for you are the keys to looking great, and that’s true of any event. When it comes to weddings, if you’ve got a lot coming up this year, you want to settle on a look that is chic but that won’t detract attention from the bride.”

Explore established and emerging designers

“I don’t know if I have go-to designers per se, as it really depends on the client and their aesthetic. But for glamour and drama you can always count on Valentino; Miu Miu is great for a more playful, whimsical ensemble; and Oscar de la Renta is the final word when it comes to romance. Accessories are a great way to elevate a more low-key look. For finishing touches, I love working with emerging designers as well as the old guard. Hair and beauty are also essential parts of any red-carpet look. I only work with glam teams I really trust, who truly understand my clients’ faces and moods, and the direction I’m taking their look in. The best beauty teams have a huge wealth of knowledge about fashion history and their input can make a gown feel cool, modern, elegant and seemingly effortless.”

The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown

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