Jeanne Yang is so much more than one of Hollywood’s reigning stylists. Yes, she’s suited up the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Robert Downey, Jr., Michael Keaton, Will Ferrell, Alexander Skarsgård and Jamie Dornan and yes, The Hollywood Reporter deemed her last year a top 25 Power Stylist. (OK, all that is undeniably cool …)
But her work goes much deeper than what can be outwardly expressed; she’s a true fashion philosopher who is as thoughtful about style as she is meticulous about the clothes her clients wear. Fashion to Yang isn’t just what can be seen on the exterior or what can be captured by a photographer’s able lens; fashion is a feeling, a vibe, a transformative gateway made from edgy shapes and crisp silhouettes that is capable of producing a stronger, more confident you.
This introspective approach to style might be traced to Yang’s non-traditional background. She grew up in Southern California, a child of Korean-born parents, and followed a circuitous route to super style-dom that along the way contained pit stops at a law firm, a fashion magazine, an apparel line and finally, the world of freelance styling. Today, she’s embedded in the very fabric of the fashion industry, a leading style-lady to the stars with a client list that’ll make you swoon, blush and wish you could ask if Brad Pitt smells even half as good as he looks.
I mean what? I’d never ask that. (Maybe. Probably.) I would, however, ask these 10 questions, and luckily Jeanne Yang, Hollywood Power Stylist, is ready with answers …
1. MELISSA: You transitioned from an early career in law to managing editor at Detour magazine to senior fashion designer for apparel line, Product, to freelance stylist. At each stage of your professional journey, did you feel yourself getting closer to a job that satisfied your creative needs?
JEANNE: It’s great getting older as you really get to become more yourself every day. I do have to say though, I have a very large art supply closet that I use to really fulfill my creative urges from needle felting, drawing, knitting and sewing.
2. Who are your style inspirations? Also, do you draw inspiration from sources outside of the entertainment or fashion industry?
I find inspiration from the street and from the pages of Vogue Paris, especially Editor-In-Chief Emmanuelle Alt, Fashion & Market Editor Capucine Safyurtlu and Geraldine Saglio, fashion editor. The editorials and personal style of the laid back, rock and roll French girl is so chic and soigné …
3. It seems like styling is a careful collaboration between your clients’ preferences and your own. How do you make it all work?
I listen and research. By listening to your clients and reviewing past images of what has and has not worked on them, you can best direct them toward things that look flattering.
4. From K-pop to kimchi, the Korean culture is simply cool. Do you think your style is influenced in any way by your Korean-American heritage?
Absolutely, being Korean inherently you care so much about your appearance. Style literally runs in my blood. You are always conscious of designers and silhouettes. I have always been hyper-aware of looks like a strange x-ray vision.
5. Name your top three best-dressed celebrities of the past or present …
That’s so hard. I have so many … Marion Cotillard, David Bowie, Emanuelle Alt; yes, she is an editor but I love how she dresses.
6. The great debate: Trendy vs. classic. How do you balance the two when you style celebrities for big red-carpet appearances or covers of major magazines?
Trend-conscious is the best way to go. Being aware of what trends are happening is important but you can’t be held captive to them. In fact, if you look at the most stylish people they all have a very classic look with a twist. What looks most flattering always wins over what’s trending right now.
7. I read you’re a fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000-Hour Rule” that greatness is derived from putting in a tremendous amount of time to perfect your craft. In the elusive universe of fashion, what’s your perspective on the relationship between innate talent and hard work?
You can pick up style from being around fashion quite quickly but if you do not pair this with hard work you can only go so far. Experience has by far helped me more in this business than having a natural skill in styling. By working the 120-hour weeks and working on video [shoots] back to back for years, I have developed a sixth sense about how to make things work and predict what will work.
8. Who is your dream celeb to style (if you haven’t dressed him/her already)?
I’ve worked with most of the celebrities I have been interested in styling but would love to work with maybe Elon Musk, Michelle Obama or some other brilliant minds.
9. You’ve said that you don’t just want to make your clients look good, you want to make them feel good, too. How important is it that your clients not only love what they’re wearing but also be somehow transformed by the clothes they’ve got on?
It is quite daunting walking the red carpet and the anxiety can really overwhelm even the most confident person. Knowing and feeling comfortable, sexy or attractive can really make all the difference in the image you convey. The only reason most of these clients are at these events is to promote a project, so they want to present the most positive image. I hope that I can help them with this part, much like the marketing department of a major corporation.
10. James Dean, George Clooney, Brad Pitt in Fight Club, Brad Pitt in any club … In one sentence, how do you define cool?
Confidence and a leather jacket.