Attn: Pa., Calif., N.Y. () -
Attn: Pa., Calif., N.Y. () —
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(Up Close: Stylist Kate Young)
c.2013 New York Times News Service
NEW YORK — Kate Young, 37, a stylist for red carpet supernovas like Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams, can often be spotted in Manhattan's garment district, darting into designers' showrooms to inspect their latest dresses.
But the tables were turned on a recent Wednesday as fashion editors braved the frigid morning and converged onto a Seventh Avenue showroom. Like Rachel Zoe and L'Wren Scott before her, Young had made the jump from styling to designing and was previewing a collection for Target.
The collection had a tinge of Old Hollywood, inspired by her red-carpet work. As editors perused the star print dresses, bow belts, ruffled frocks and Peter Pan collars, Young leaned in and explained her inspiration. "My clients are girly," she said, as bubbly and excited as a college student. She was dressed in a tailored black-on-black ensemble, the better to show off her striking pale blond hair and silvery gray eyes. "Every piece is meant to be flattering on the figure," she said.
Though Young is known for dressing celebrities, that fame may be rubbing off. Last year, she nabbed the top spot on The Hollywood Reporter's list of powerful stylists.
''I work very hard, and I don't go out a lot," Young said.
Her rise began at Vogue, where she was an assistant, fresh out of college, to Anna Wintour. A year after, she was promoted to market editor. Later, she styled the cover of Teen Vogue's inaugural issue in 2003 and then began working directly with Hollywood actresses.
From January until March, she is on overdrive. "It's like an adrenaline rush," she said over sushi at Dean & DeLuca in Midtown a week after the Target preview. "Creatively, this is a really inspiring time. I get to be in designers' showrooms and then talk to the actresses to see what they're feeling. I'm very good at my job this time of year versus, let's say, August."
She had spent the morning making the rounds at fashion PR agencies like KCD and PR Consulting to select designer dresses for Williams and Weisz, for the upcoming premiere of "Oz the Great and Powerful." Weisz is also likely to attend the Oscar ceremony this month with her husband, Daniel Craig.
And afterward, in preparation for New York Fashion Week, Young was heading to Jason Wu's showroom; she has been styling his shows for six years. She is also working with Naeem Khan, a designer known for dressing Michelle Obama and sparkling red-carpet gowns, for the third runway season.
Young is known for immaculate tailoring. "I'm really, really intense on tailoring," she said, gray eyes widening. "I don't have to use double-sided tape."
Another of her character traits is her close relationship with younger designers. She has known Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy since they both graduated from college — she from University of Oxford and he from Central Saint Martins — and were finding their way in London. ("He was a club kid — so fun," she said. "He still is.") And when she worked at Vogue, she had the inside track of then-emerging designers like Wu.
She has also maintained long-term relationships with clients (going on 10 years with Portman).
While Young's glamorous career might suggest socialite leanings, she grew up in a family of academics, in Easton, Pa., where her mother was the assistant director of athletics at Lafayette College and her father was a kinesiology professor at Pennsylvania State University. "They're both sports freaks," she said, laughing. Pointing to her Nike FuelBand, she said she runs or plays tennis to deal with job stress. Her younger brother works for Bloomberg in San Francisco.
As early as she can remember (her first word was "shoe"), she was rifling through fashion magazines. After two years at Lafayette College, she transferred to Oxford to study English and art history. While there, she was engrossed in the London designer scene. "It was all about Gucci by Tom Ford," she recalled. "There were literally lines just to get in the store."
After graduation, she landed an interview at Conde Nast, through a family friend, Kati Korpijaakko, who was the art director of Glamour magazine at the time and kept a house in Easton. Young was hired for Vogue's PR department, but a month later a position opened in Wintour's office. "It was a lucky timing thing," she said.
She is married to Keith Abrahamsson, of Mexican Summer records, and has two children, ages 2 and 4. The family lives in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, not far from both sets of grandparents, who will likely be doing some baby-sitting during Fashion Week.
''A lot of fashion people think they're famous, but it's not the same as an actress," she said, dismissing the idea that her Target collection might shuttle her into the spotlight. "Being famous is not an easy thing. I don't think I would ever want that for me or my family."