Celebrity stylist Tara Swennen has worked with everyone from Gwen Stefani to Emily Ratakojwski, but has perhaps gotten the most attention for her collaboration with rule-breaking actress Kristen Stewart, who most recently was the reigning dare-devil of the Cannes red carpet. And that's exactly what Swennen loves about her. "One of my greatest goals as a stylist is to create a balance of what my clients would like to wear, what styles are trending, and how I envision their fashion evolution," she explains. Here, the stylist opens up about how she introduced Stewart to Chanel, what she thinks of the actress's new buzz cut, and why sustainability is more important now than ever.
How did you get started in the business?
I studied fashion design at Cornell University. Once I graduated, I moved to New York and worked in the studio services at Barneys NY, where I met my first stylist, Andrea Lieberman. I started my styling career with her... and then rest is history. I moved to Los Angeles right after 9/11, and began working for Rachel Zoe. It was great as it was the during the Lindsey Lohan, Mischa Barton red-carpet era. After about five years I branched out on my own, and that’s when I began working with Kristen Stewart.
How did you first meet?
Her publicist of 15 years, Ruth Bernstein, put us together when she was only 14 years old for Into The Wild. We have remained tried and true ever since. Kristen was one of my first clients I got within the first year I started styling. It's funny because the first look I dressed her in happened to be Chanel.
Kristen Stewart has great personal style. How do you take that into consideration with your work?
One of my greatest goals as a stylist is to create a balance of what my clients would like to wear, what styles are trending, and how I envision their fashion evolution. It is paramount to me to showcase their personalities, so the end goal is to refine and elevate whatever their own tastes may be. Kristen's fashion sense has evolved as she has grown into an ever-expanding repertoire, so it makes it that much more fun for me!
How does a new beauty look, for example Kristen’s buzz cut, influences the styling of their look?
A new beauty look can have an enormous effect on the styling. I welcome this new bleached buzz cut on Kristen. It suits her perfectly and allows us to go in a new direction. I feel my part in it is to facilitate their evolution as its coming.
The Cannes Film Festival is known for having super strict dress codes. How have you been able to work with the rules and maintain a look that feels appropriate?
Kristen simply happens to not really be a gown person, so we have adapted her unique style to the event by keeping her dressy yet with her own unique twist on it.
What is your day-to-day like as a stylist?
There is no set day to day in this business, which is one of the reasons I love it! Some days I am researching online, others I am pulling and fitting, and others I am on set... it's ever changing, but yes, I am always planning.
What are some of your goals?
I would really like to become more of a spokesperson for ethical fashion. I became a vegan last year and feel that we need to be more conscious. Fashion is not a necessity. If you want a fur stole, you can achieve that look just in a more responsible way.
How does this more conscious way of styling work when you're dealing with a client?
Lately, I will just reach out to vegan brands I see on Instagram or hear about and will ask them to send me things to dress my clients in. Most of my clients share the same thinking, which is great. For example, Kristen won’t wear fur or wear snakeskin, but sometimes will wear leather – so we can be more responsible and shape the look. We are in an age where we need to become more responsible on all fronts and as a passionate fashionista- I think it's part of my job to help from within now.
What else are you working on now?
Tons of things! Kristen is launching a new project with Chanel, so tons of stuff for that. I also just picked up a few new clients like Ashley Benson and Bella Thorne!
Who is your dream client?
My girls are my dream clients. I am a very lucky woman.
The Hepburns - Katharine and Audrey.
Okay, let’s get personal. What are three words to describe your own style?
Classic, elegant, and fun.
Favorite vintage stores in the world?
I love flea markets worldwide. That's where you can find the best and most unique treasures!
Style pet peeve:
Bad tailoring and not leaving anything to the imagination.
Best recent discovery:
A pet pig named Sprinkles ;)
Any other plans down the line?
I would love to get back into men’s styling!