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NYFW Secrets From Naomi Watts' Stylist

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    Photographed by Taylor Jewell at Lincoln Center.

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    Celebrity stylist Jeanann Williams has only been dressing Hollywood's biggest names for two years, but she's been prepping for this gig her entire life. Drawn to fashion at a young age, her path was set through a series of seemingly fateful events. After graduating from the University of Mississippi with a degree in fashion merchandising, she stumbled upon a 10-year career in public relations when a friend recommended her for a job at a major New York-based agency. Then, Naomi Watts called for some styling assistance.

    Well, the fact that Naomi called wasn't that surprising — Williams' S.O. at the time was the actress' brother, Ben Watts — but her request was: an outfit for the 2012 Venice Film Festival (and fast). And, with that, her first client was an A-list actress. From the moment Naomi stepped out onto the red carpet in a Marchesa lace number, Williams' styling career took off. Now, she's been listed as one of The Hollywood Reporter's most powerful stylists the past two years in a row and has a roster of fashion-forward women under her belt including Suki Waterhouse, Marisa Tomei, and Julianne Moore.

    So, with New York Fashion Week upon us, you can bet Williams is paying even more attention to the runways for looks that'll land her clients on every best-dressed list. Ahead, we're getting an exclusive look at the stylist on the job as she preps for another season of shows, plus the essentials she keeps at the ready for doing it all in style, like illuminating face oils, fashion flats, and the Venus Snap with Embrace portable razor. Click on to see why styling has been Williams' calling all along.



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    So, how do you approach a week's worth of outfits for NYFW?
    "It’s a lot of outfit changes. But, I’ve always been relaxed and pretty casual."

    Any specific outfits or pieces you're planning out?
    "I love androgyny — it’s so sexy. I leave the dress at home and think about super-sleek menswear, like a Saint Laurent suit. Maybe a big, cozy fisherman's sweater. It’s all about materials and texture. And, definitely sneaks or flats, so I can be able to move. I hate 'lady walking.' I mean, I wear heels when it’s called for, but I’m a total flats girl."

    You're obviously super passionate about styling — even if it's just putting together your own looks. What originally sparked your interest in fashion?
    "I came from a very traditional background — the Midwest is like meat and potatoes. Fashion was my way of expressing myself and having fun. Clothes can do so much for you. They can make your life colorful and take your confidence level higher. It’s like one big package."

    Céline top, Genetic jeans, Chloé boots, Dezso by Sara Beltran bracelets, Soffer Ari rings, EF Collection rings, Jennifer Fisher rings, Monique Péan rings, Anita Ko earrings.

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    So, why did you attend the University of Mississippi rather than a fashion school like Parsons?
    "I already knew I wanted to study fashion, but I went to Ole Miss for a true college experience, sorority house and all. Fashion merchandising was the only degree in fashion at Ole Miss, and you learn a little bit of everything."

    Then you moved to NYC and serendipitously wound up in public relations — totally not planned. How did it all fall into place?
    "One day, after I left Miu Miu in NYC and moved back home, I got an email from one of my clients who worked at Sigerson Morrison saying that she was leaving her job. I asked who was taking it, and she was like, 'You should have it.' So, I did fashion PR for 10 years."

    That sounds like a job-hunt dream come true — no hunting required! We heard you had another fateful encounter that led you to styling Naomi Watts. Was it nerve-wracking to style an A-list celeb as your first client?
    "I was definitely doing the 'fake it until you make it' thing. There was a learning curve; thank goodness Naomi is a pro, and she loves me, and I can make mistakes."

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    Hey, at least you can learn from mistakes. Did you have any rookie blunders when you were first starting out?
    "For one of my first fittings with Naomi, I had a brand-new office in New York, and it was 100 degrees. Naomi, her mother, and my daughter were there, so it was like a family affair. I didn’t have a mirror, so Naomi's mom had to run to the hardware store and get one of those cheap-y, little mirrors. I didn’t have a seamstress either, so I was pinning everything myself!"

    Good thing she's family.
    "But, she’s also a professional. I was like, 'If I suck, you better fire me.' And, she would have because it’s a job — if I hadn’t brought it, if I didn't have the best stuff. I had to fight and push for what I wanted from designers. I would always introduce her to new shoes, new jewelry, and many options. I worked really hard at it and she saw that."

    Who are some of your favorite new jewelry and accessories designers that you've introduced to your clients?
    "You know, I just take things off my body. A lot of times, if I’m wearing a necklace and someone says they like it, I'm like, 'Here you go.' Everything I wear, my clients tend to want."

    Earlier you said that you're a sneakers girl during the day, what about at night for all the NYFW parties?
    "It's all about shorter hemlines and higher heels. It just gets flashier and more fun."

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    So, once you figure out which shows you'll attend during NYFW, do you preview collections at designer showrooms or meet with brands that you can't fit into your schedule?
    "The film and fashion industries, they don’t intersect that well, so sometimes, I actually miss part of NYFW. Some designers expect you to meet or call ahead or after the live show. That’s how celebrity stylists stay on top of it."

    Have you always been able to pull some strings to get exactly what your clients want, or was it a struggle in the beginning? What was the hardest part?
    "Yes, getting all the contacts — I had some of them, but you need a lot. I had to reach out to all of my editor friends, and I had to ask everyone for help. I remember when I was in PR and I was stalking all of them. Elizabeth Stewart, Kate Young...they’re so talented."

    Jenni Kayne blazer and pants, Chloé heels, Dezso by Sara Beltran bracelets, Soffer Ari rings, EF Collection rings, Jennifer Fisher rings, Monique Péan rings, Anita Ko earrings.

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    Does it reinforce your somewhat-spontaneous decision to become a stylist?
    "The thing is, in this world, in New York, in our industry, there's always someone right behind you, so you can’t get too comfortable. I could toot my own horn and say, 'Wow, I'm amazing,' but there are tons of amazing people out there. There’s someone right behind me who’s ready to take my spot the moment I want to take a vacation. I still have to work for it and I want to keep growing, but I feel like I found where I’m supposed to be."

    Was there ever a moment when you thought you would do something completely different with your career?
    "You know, I was going to start my own brand strategy company at the time Naomi called, and I had thought about possibly getting into styling. But, once you’ve spent 10 years in one field, you’re not going to jump and start at the bottom of another."