Ilaria Urbinati, born in Rome and raised in Paris, acts as a stylist for a host of male stars, including Bradley Cooper, Armie Hammer, Chris Evans, and James McAvoy. She is the co-owner with Danny Masterston of the LA menswear boutique Confederacy.
A recent GQ article followed you for a week as you styled Armie Hammer for awards season. You’re usually behind the scenes, so was it fun to suddenly be the subject of attention?
It was a little stressful, because it was during the busiest time possible, but I loved that Armie was involved too, and my husband shot the photos so that made me feel more comfortable. I think it is sort of awkward for stylists to be so in the spotlight these days. It sort of goes against what styling is all about, which is to have your clients not seem like they have a stylist, you know, more effortless. Especially when it comes to styling men.
Who are some other stylists –editorial or red carpet — whose work you admire?
I’m obsessed with Karla Welch. She is also a good friend of mine and she is one of the coolest stylists I know, not caught up at all. We met on this styling seminar we were asked to speak at, and both of us were like “If you’re gonna become a stylist you have to realize that it is WAY less glamorous than you think!” Ha ha! We were a tad aggressive and I think we scared a bunch of aspiring stylists away. Karla and her partner Kemal do such an incredible job with Hailee Steinfeld and their other girls. I also love Cher Coulter’s work with Kate Bosworth and Rosie Huntington. And Wendi & Nicole’s work with Elizabeth Banks on the Hunger Games tour was so inspiring.
Do you prefer editorial or red carpet?
Red carpet. I love the immediacy of it and with the way the blogosphere is these days, a good outfit can have such an impact so fast. Some could argue that editorial is more creative but I love putting together looks for a press tour – trying to find that cohesiveness mixed with pushing boundaries but in a way that works on a real person going to an actual event. I work better within parameters. Also, there’s no money in editorial and if I wanted to work for free I would go like doodle all day instead!
Where do you shop for yourself?
One of the advantages of having a store and being a stylist is that I tend to order all my clothes from the designers at wholesale. So I like to place personal orders with lines like Band of Outsiders, Shipley & Halmos, and Rag & Bone. I’m a Proenza Schouler fanatic so I buy that wherever I can get it. For good cheap stuff I go to Zara or Asos and for vintage I love The Way We Wore in LA and Edith Machinist in NY. My favorite store in the world is By George in Austin, Texas. They have the most impeccable selection of Celine, Stella, Givenchy, mixed with some cool other finds.
What’s the optimal men’s accessory?
I love a weathered old brown belt or a slim colored belt. It adds a pop to everything and, believe it or not, men need to show they have a waist as well. Just no belts with suits, because it adds bulk.
Do you harbor desires to become a designer yourself?
Never! I mean, I designed two seasons with Rebecca Minkoff on her ready to wear line, and then Albert Hammond Jr. and I did a line of men’s suits for Confederacy that were very popular — Ryan Gosling wore them in Crazy Stupid Love, so the response was amazing and I was really proud of the quality and originality of the line. So it’s fun to do collaborations here and there, and I love consulting. But being an actual designer is not for me. I would lose my mind.
How would you describe your own style?
I’m a little bit of a lazy dresser. It’s not my fault though: because I dress people all day long, the last thing I wanna do is style myself. But I like things to be very simple. I’m sort of a 90s freak and I love minimalism mixed with a bit of grunge, which all works well with my laziness.
When did Confederacy open?
2008! It’s been almost 4 years.
Is there a store with a similar aesthetic to Confederacy in NY?
I would say maybe Odin as far as the men’s brands we carry, and as far as the vibe and design of the shop, I would say Billy Reid, RRL, Ernest Sewn — we are big on that Americana aesthetic.
Do you think you will ever add womenswear?
We had womenswear our first two years! But I just wanted to focus on mens wear. Womenswear is a huge pain in the ass and I loved the idea of having a niche with the menswear. There’s just not that much great menswear in LA so that really worked out well for us because we’re offering an East Coast aesthetic that’s hard to find here.
What do you enjoy about styling men more than woman?
I love the timelessness of menswear. It’s less trend driven then womens. Quality and fit is so crucial — you can do bells and whistles with a girl, put her in a cute dress and she looks great, but with mens wear you can’t cheat because it’s simpler, it’s all about the details. I’m a psycho for fit and alterations. It appeases the OCD part of my personality.
Do you find some men are afraid of looking to put together?
Not so much these days, and not the guys that are hiring stylists. But, that said, they do want to look not too “done,” more effortless, which I’m all for anyway. I think men should look iconic, to use a dumb word, but I mean really I want to look at the photo in 50 years and still think the dude looks awesome.