Leading Mannequins

It’s an open secret that movie stars don’t dress themselves any more than your 2-year-old does. Think Tom Cruise knew what a shawl collar was before someone put him in one? Or that Ryan Gosling woke up one day in a Henley? (Well, maybe.) Which is why the most important person behind an actor’s image isn’t his agent—it’s his stylist. For our April 2012 special issue—The Style Bible—GQ sent Molly Young to spend a week with a Hollywood dresser to find out who picks the clothes that make the man. Below is our favorite bit from the story. The rest is here.

It seems fair to note here that no one in Hollywood buys his own clothes. No actor does, I mean. They don’t. “They won’t even buy a fucking T-shirt,” Ilaria marvels. She means this in two senses: One, actors don’t physically go shopping (their stylists do), and two, they do not pay money for the clothes they wear. At Ferragamo, for example, I watch a PR woman show Ilaria a butterscotch suede bomber jacket, to which the stylist’s one-word reply is: “Bradley.” And that’s it—that’s all it takes. Later in the day, an assistant will be dispatched to drop the item off at Bradley Cooper’s place. Maybe he’ll like it, maybe not. The piece retails for $4,700.

Back at Armani, Ilaria is trailed by a PR guy. At one point, he pauses and holds up a velvet jacket. “So rico suave,” he says. “For Armie [Hammer]?”

"It’s beautiful, and I get it," Ilaria says, "but no. For Nic Cage, yes. Not for Armie." Nic Cage likes deep, lordly colors. And velvet. "I think it’s good to have a, uh, velvet selection for Cage," she remarks.

But Ilaria knew that Armani wasn’t lending to Cage. She’d received an e-mail from Armani that afternoon saying as much. I’d asked her why—had his stock as an actor fallen? Is that how it worked? “Not really,” Ilaria said. When a brand refuses to dress a person, she explained, it’s because that person doesn’t mesh with the brand’s conception of itself. The rest was implied. I guess Armani doesn’t conceive of itself as a turbulent and possibly bankrupt label that collects classic comic books.

After outfits for Armie are pulled, the PR guy pauses for a brief time-out period for awards gossip and speculation. He distributes Red Vines from a tub, which prompts everyone to say, “Ugh, I shouldn’t,” and then guiltily eat some. (People in L.A. talk about their bodies the way people in New York talk about their work, which is fucking constantly. The next day I will hear Armie Hammer’s publicist tell him with zero irony: “Your dog is in great shape.”)

"You’re gonna put Armie in Armani, right?" I ask Ilaria as we leave. For a traditionally formed (read: man-shaped) man like Armie, there seems to be no choice but Armani, and I am still drunk on luxury. But Ilaria shrugs: "May the best tux win."