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Tastemaker. Image architect. Stylist. Trend setter. Whatever you want to call them, there are a host of style mavericks curating, shaping and creating the biggest trends of the moment. How? Through the talent they meticulously dress. Because the world’s biggest stars aren’t always dressing themselves…

The celebrity stylist is a relatively new concept. Look back to the heyday of Hollywood and you’ll discover stars were decked out by film studio costume designers. In the ‘80s, they were dressing themselves – to differing degrees of success. Fast forward to the ‘90s and things were changing.

Fashion trends were becoming more global. Multihyphenate designers who styled and created were breaking out – think Tom Ford at Gucci. The MTV era was blowing up. Paparazzi culture was taking a chokehold on society. Popstars and actors were taking over magazine covers and featuring in fashion campaigns. And these stars needed dressing – on and off the red carpet. Enter the celebrity stylist.

Over the past few years, the phenomenon has exploded. Ten-fold. Stylists today, or ‘image architects’ as Law Roach – one of the most famous of them all calls himself – are becoming icons in their own right. The ones shaping the most talked about cultural moments. The ones setting huge trends each season. The ones bringing fresh talent into the spotlight. The ones pulling iconic looks from the archives and creating era-defining moments (case in point: Kim Kardashian in that Marilyn Monroe dress thanks, in part, to her stylist Dani Levi).

So, what exactly is an ‘image architect’? It’s about building a visual persona. Tapping into someone’s personality and creating an aesthetic that feeds into every corner of their lives. It’s more than a singular red-carpet look: it’s how someone shows up on social media, on the juice run, snapped outside the gym. ‘Celebrities at gas stations’ became an internet phenomenon of its own, showing that each and every moment is a chance to communicate who they are and – sometimes - who they want to be.

From the horse’s mouth, it’s: “Surveying, building a blueprint, sourcing materials, all that. But I’m doing it with clothes, jewellery, hair and makeup,” Roach explained to The Guardian in 2018. While stylist Karla Welch told Elle magazine earlier this year: “It can’t just be about clothes; it’s got to be about who they are.”

Law Roach – or Luxury Law as his 1.1m Instagram followers know him as – is the one responsible for the Celine Dion renaissance that captured the 2016 zeitgeist. Grieving after the death of her husband, René Angélil, Roach worked with her to start a new chapter. By choosing now iconic pieces – like the Titanic Vetements hoodie that pictures Jack, Rose and the sinking ship – he sent a very literal message that she was hurting but learning to go on. More subtly, there was a shift in her whole aesthetic with designers like Balenciaga and Off-White clamouring to dress the star and front row invites flooding in. Roach himself credits her with changing his life. 

But his most famous muse? Zendaya. Taking her from Disney star to cultural icon, Roach was the one responsible for that wet-look Balmain dress at the Venice Film Festival in 2021, the fuchsia Tom Ford breastplate she wore to the 2020 Critics’ Choice Awards and the style-defining chain mail Versace dress at the 2018 Met Gala.

Consistently hitting all the right spots, the duo bagged a CFDA Fashion Award in 2021, with Zendaya named as ‘Style Icon’ of the year – an award previously given to the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna and Pharrell Williams.

No wonder he dressed an insane 10 (including himself) stars for the 2021 Met Gala. Amongst his looks? Hunter Schafer in Prada, Chance The Rapper in custom Ralph Lauren and Lewis Hamilton in Bottega Veneta, with The New York Times describing him as ‘the stylist who ruled the Meta Gala’. Fact.

More recent to his roster are the previously mentioned Hamilton and model Bella Hadid, with the latter making headlines in Versace at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, from a black Gianni Versace creation from ‘87 to a Donatella design from ‘01. While Roach himself has just been snapped for Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino Pink PP campaign alongside his fashion fam.

As mentioned, more than just dressing for the red carpet, an image maker is responsible for creating a persona. Something Harry Lambert has done in spades. The man behind Harry Styles’ transformation from boyband member to Gucci muse, the duo have collaborated on everything from music videos to editorials to tour looks, garnering Lambert a cool 722k followers.

Although not intentionally (if you ask Lambert anyway) Styles’ new aesthetic has become more than fashion, it’s become central to the conversation surrounding gender politics, breaking down gender boundaries and opening the door to a more fluid approach to dressing. He was the first man to appear on the cover of US Vogue - and in a dress no less – and, although not the first, has brought nail varnish, feather boas and handbags into the world of men’s style.

“I just hope it’s silly things such as putting Harry [Styles] in pearls and that men can wear necklaces and it not be a thing – that’s the stuff I want to be remembered for. That and when people dress up as Harry for Halloween.” He told The Guardian earlier this year. “It means that we’ve done something that has had cultural impact. It means we’ve got through.”

Lambert has made similar moves with the likes of footballer Dominic Calvert-Lewis, who he dressed in a flared short suit and glittery bag from Prada for an Arena Homme cover last year - a huge moment for a player - and Emma Corrin – now the face of Miu Miu - who he’s worked hard to make statements with.

Masterminding headline-making tour fits is something Lorenzo Posocco knows all about. The stylist to Dua Lipa, Posocco has blended the worlds of luxury fashion and music on stage. Top of her hits? Custom acid yellow Balenciaga catsuits – with matching looks for the backing dancers of course – and many specially-created Mugler fits. Taking his now signature illusion tights but adding a tonne of glitter, creative director Casey Cadwallader cemented Dua Lipa’s pop culture status.

For LA-based Karla Welch, the looks may be more subtle, but she really is the master of a whole-life aesthetic reinvention. Case in point: Hailey and Justin Bieber. Now one of the most sought-after style duos, Justin has gone from pop pin-up to legit trendsetter, whether that’s a hot pink beanie on the red carpet or the supersized sleeves that have become his signature.  

And Hailey? Whether it’s nailing Barbiecore or that post-gym activewear aesthetic, she’s creating hype, turning new season pieces into It items with true cult status.

Proving that stylists are really for the long haul, is Jahleel Weaver. Having spent a decade working alongside Rihanna – both as her stylist and creative director – Weaver is unsurprisingly responsible for many viral fashion moments. Think Rihanna’s and ASAP Rocky’s pregnancy announcement, that iconic crystal jumpsuit she wore to Coachella back in 2017, and her meme-making 2021 Met Gala fit.

Although stylists have long been working in this way, the recent boom has social media to thank in part. The standard now is to tag and credit ‘glam squads’ beyond the pages of magazines, giving names – and faces – to those that previously would have been celebrated more privately.  

 And it’s a move we’re here for. Direct access to agenda-setting, pop culture-making geniuses? We’re hitting follow immediately.