Kate Young Talks Vogue, Celeb Clients, & Wearing Tees With Dresses

Even before Kate Young officially earned the title of the "Most Powerful Celebrity Stylist," thanks to The Hollywood Reporter, we were already major fans of her red-carpet looks. Young knows how to make Hollywood magic on command, and yet, her work always feels modern, fresh, and inspired. In fact, we can thank Kate's masterful mix of high fashion and high-celeb status for many a jaw-dropping moment (or, as we like to call them, game changers).
After an early start as Anna Wintour's assistant, the stylist quickly emerged as an industry icon. Today, she balances a variety of different jobs — including being a mother of two — so we were delighted when Kate agreed to squeeze us in for a one on one to talk style, starlets, and the best advice she's ever received. Budding fashion mavens, you may want to take notes.
We’re pretty familiar with the start of your career on the editorial side, but how did you begin styling?
"I was an assistant at Vogue for a long time, I was hired at first to be Anna Wintour’s assistant and then I was a market assistant, and then I was a sittings assistant, and then I became a sittings associate. So, I was still with Tonne Goodman but I was shooting a lot of front-of-the-book photos for Vogue... I did a bunch for Teen Vogue, too. And, basically through that I started meeting all these actresses and publicists. When I left Vogue full-time and went and became a contributor, I had more time to do freelance projects. Once I was contributing, actresses started saying 'Oh, can you dress me for this? Can you dress me for that? That dress you had at the shoot, could I wear that to the premiere?' and that’s how it happened."
That’s amazing. So, who were some of your first clients?
"My first clients were Jennifer Connelly, Julianna Margulies, and Salma Hayek."
Currently, what does a typical day look like, for you?
"The thing is, it’s really all over the place because I kind of do three different jobs. Celebrities are about a third of my job, and then consulting is a third of it, and then editorial-advertising shooting is the last third.
"The other thing is that I have two kids. My husband is in L.A., but usually, we split the kid stuff and we can deal with it together. In any given week there’s probably one day of shooting, one day of fittings, and also usually one day of consulting in there, and between all of that I usually just have one or two days of just showroom appointments, or maybe research. There isn’t a typical day for me, which is kind of great.
With summer coming up, can you tell us what you're going to be wearing?
"This morning I was standing there like, 'What do I wear for summer?' I don’t know yet. I’m wearing a Versace for H&M dress with a T-shirt under it so it doesn’t look like I’m going to a cocktail party. That’s my look for today, but I don’t know if I like it. I kind of feel like I’m in a costume. I don’t know what my look is. I really like white jeans. I feel like they're really easy to throw on good shoes and a T-shirt. [Also,] I really like a good dress and I’m much more into fitted, clean shapes than I used to be, like Calvin Klein or '90s Versace. I’m kind of excited by simple, tight shapes in a way that I haven’t been in a long time."
And do you have a go-to uniform when it comes to dressing for work or play?
"I tend to wear cut-off jeans and espadrilles and a striped T-shirt. I have thousands of all of those things so I tend to try on different looks and put on that same thing, like a variation of the theme."
Photo: Courtesy of Tim Howard Management
You work with some incredibly talented and beautiful clients. Do you have a dream client that you’d love to style?
"The thing is, I really like my clients. There isn’t anyone I’d prefer to be working with than them. When I see new young actresses I get really excited, I’m like 'Oh, look, she’s so pretty, she looks like she’s going to be chic, I want to dress her.'
"I get more excited about women when I meet them and talk. I’m much more into people than I am into movie stars, so when I get to know them as people, I get really excited in a way that I wouldn't otherwise."
Who are the young starlets you're seeing out there now, with a lot of potential?
"I really love Elizabeth Olsen, but I feel like she has a stylist. I always feel weird about saying this because I never want to steal anyone’s clients. But I shot her for a magazine recently and I just really liked her...I think she’s pretty set, but if she weren’t, I would really like to work with her."
What are some of your favorite looks that you’ve styled so far?
"For Natalie Portman, it’s her in Givenchy couture at the amFAR Gala in Cannes which was in '08. For Rachel Weisz, my favorite look was at a premiere of The Lovely Bones, she wore a short gray Valentino dress that was like, crazy beautiful. And let’s see, for Michelle Williams, the yellow Vera Wang for the Oscars [Ed note: Us, too!], but also, I really, really love the way she looked at the Oscars this year in the Louis Vuitton."
Let's talk vintage finds. What are some of your favorites?
"My favorite vintage thing I’ve ever owned that I’ve been wearing for, at this point, maybe ten years, is this giant Alaia blanket coat. It’s this black blanket coat, it’s almost like a cape but it has a hood and it’s amazing. That’s one of the most worn and loved pieces in my wardrobe."
And where did you find it?
"Oh, goodness. I don’t even know where I found that. I feel like maybe I got it in Paris at Didier Ludot. I’m not sure that’s true, but I think it’s true."
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?
"When I was an assistant, Camilla Nickerson really encouraged me to shoot all the time and told me to bring in my tests, show them to her, and she would give me advice. She told me to always make it a version of myself — if I was doing a princess story, to think, 'If I were a princess, how would I dress?' — it should always be a version of me. I feel like that’s why Camilla is such a genius. Because you always see her in her shoots, you know?"
So, what’s next for you?
"I’m just continuing to work. Rachel Weisz has The Bourne Identity coming out this summer; it’s a big blockbuster so I think there are six premieres of that. [Also,] I’m working on Jason Wu — resort just came out so that’s exciting — and we’re doing another Dior ad this summer with Natalie for Dior Beauty."
Photo: Courtesy of Tim Howard Management

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