Stylist shops 'til she drops during award season

For red-carpet stylists, a big event like the Oscars or Golden Globes demands dizzying amounts of planning and preparation, much of it last-minute. In September, Variety‘s Stylephile blogger, Caroline Ryder, got to tag along with one of the top red-carpet stylists, Anya Sarre.

I meet Anya Sarre at noon Friday in an airy, loftlike fashion showroom in the Pacific Design Center. Blonde, glamorous and a workaholic, she is the self-styled Edith Head of entertainment news. In just 48 hours, 10 women — the on-air talent and leading execs of CBS’ “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider” — will walk the carpet and appear on camera adorned head to toe in styles selected by Sarre.

Gowns have mostly been taken care of, but now her charges need jewels, bags and shoes. It feels very last minute — but that, Sarre says, is the whole point.

“You can’t plan too far ahead,” she says. “Things change, and people change. Some designers are making red-carpet dresses right up until the last minute.”

What’s key for Sarre and her boss, CBS “Insider” and “Entertainment Tonight” exec producer Linda Bell Blue, is that things should “pop.”

We waste no time. At 12:09 p.m., we arrive at the Platinum Guild Emmy Suite at the Luxe Hotel on Rodeo. Sarre scoops up $194,810 worth of jewels but spots a problem: not enough gold, and “Red looks better with gold” is one of her rules.

She’s late but arranges to pick up some Damiani gold from a rep eating lunch at a restaurant nearby. Minutes later she swoops into Van Cleef and Arpels. They let her grab what she needs; “I wouldn’t do this for any other stylist,” says the manager.

By 2:22, Sarre is speeding to CBS Studios with about $2 million worth of diamonds on the back seat. But the gold crisis remains unresolved.

In the newsroom, Bell Blue surveys gowns lined up for her talent. The blue one “doesn’t pop enough,” she says. “I want red.” Luckily, Sarre has a red gown on standby. She eats lunch in her office at around 4:15 p.m., chirping instructions to various assistants in between mouthfuls. She leaves at around 7 p.m., grabs a quick Portofino spray tan, and makes one last drop-off in Beverly Hills.

The next morning, Saturday, Sarre and her team speed around town dropping off accessories and making last-minute gown tweaks. She stops at a Bristol Farms for a diamond drop-off with a client in the parking lot.

Somewhere during the day, she squeezes in a colonic and Pilates. “I’m my most high-maintenance client,” she admits. Saturday night features a last-minute gown fitting.

On Emmy day, the phone starts ringing at 6:45 a.m. Sarre shoots a special “gowns” segment for “The Insider,” drops off more diamonds and visits a holder of vintage estate jewelry. Finally, she strikes gold — literally.

While the stars are arriving on the red carpet, Sarre gets her own hair done. At precisely 6:10 p.m., she arrives at Disney Hall, the venue for the “Entertainment Tonight”/People magazine after-party, laden with more gowns and jewels. “It’s not just about styling the actual Emmys,” she explains. “There’s the pre-Emmy party, the Emmys, and then the Emmy after-party — and often a different outfit for each.”

At around 11 p.m., Sarre can finally kick off her impossibly tall Louboutin heels. But at 11:19, she’s arranging the first diamond drop-off of the night. This is what Sarre refers to as the “Cinderella Repo Man” part of her job.

“Retrieving is a really, really stressful thing,” she says. “Especially when the companies need the jewels back at 10 a.m. the next day for insurance purposes.”

Sometimes her talent finds her at the party and does the drop-off there and then.

Bell Blue shows up a few minutes later. “Great job,” she says, covertly handing Sarre her bracelets. “Those diamonds really popped tonight.”

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