Kate Young, whose clients include the likes of Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz, began her career as Anna Wintour’s assistant. After majoring in English and art history in college, the Pennsylvania native moved to New York and landed a job at Vogue. “I had a really different experience to what people assume I had. I really liked the job,” she says, dismissing nightmarish Devil Wears Prada visions. “Anna’s a really smart, tough woman, but I have nothing but good things to say about her.”
Today, the stylist works with Rachel McAdams, Selma Blair, and more; most recently, she dressed Portman and Alicia Keys for last weekend’s Golden Globes. “I like working with people that I admire, so I don’t have a huge roster like other stylists,” she explains. Dressing the high-profile-and-pregnant Natalie Portman has presented a welcome sartorial challenge. “Being pregnant, your body is very specific, and it changes everything,” she says. “I’m trying to keep her looking clean, modern, and flattering — and trying not to fall into pregnancy clichés.” We caught up with Young to discuss her A-list clientele, fantasy décor , and Fashion Week plans.
What’s your typical process for styling celebrities?
It’s totally different every time. I work with Diane Kruger sometimes, but she really knows fashion. Some actresses, it’s just not their thing — in that case, I come up with my fantasy of how they should look. And it’s all sort of a version of shopping for myself.
What’s the biggest challenge?
There are a lot of tiny, acute details that need to be managed. I have to make sure to get the extra hole punched in slingbacks so that the shoe doesn’t fall off. The little things can be stressful, but it’s really fun.
Who are your favorite designers and why?
I love Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy — he’s so talented and so cool. I really love Erdem in London; he’s like the Jason Wu of Europe. He designs really beautiful, hopeful clothes. And I really like Phoebe Philo at Céline.
What’s the first designer item you ever bought?
Oh, God, they were horrible: Jean Paul Gaultier blue satin jeans with an orange skull and crossbones.
Where do you like to shop in New York?
I like Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Dear Rivington +, A Détacher, No. 6, Exquisite Costume, Creatures of Comfort, and Opening Ceremony. For furniture, Ochre, Cafiero Select, and Darr. And for kids, Sweet William, Enchanted, and Makie.
How would you describe your personal style?
Edgy classics. One time in New York Magazine I described it as ‘Mommy drinks.’ Maybe it’s not as funny now that I have kids, but still true.
What trends are you appreciating right now?
The return to minimalism.
What trends are you ready to see retired?
What's one item you're saving up to buy?
Charlotte Perriand furniture — it’s French modern furniture that costs an absolute fortune. I want it all.
What should every woman have in her closet?
One dress that makes you feel good. It would be easy to say something in particular, like a little black dress, but that’s not right for everybody. If you’re a potter and you live in Woodstock, a black dress is dumb. I think everyone should have one outfit that they feel their best in.