The Magic (Red) Carpet
As we’ve seen greatly highlighted in the last few years, there are a lot of politics involved in award season—especially the nominations, even more so the wins. The truth is: Actors need more than just a stellar performance on-screen to take home those golden statues. They also have to campaign for that performance/film for months. Or as Viola Davis joked when she finally won her first Golden Globe last month: “I took all the pictures; I went to the luncheon…”
Yes, campaigning means red carpets. And while having a successful red carpet season won’t guarantee an actor a win in their category it definitely can help their chances.
Because having a memorable moment keeps people talking about that celebrity, which keeps people thinking about that celebrity. And even more importantly: Favorable buzz can translate to favorable option. Which is why having stunning, stand-out looks are beneficial.
But as we know, those “moments” don’t just miraculously occur. No, they are quite literally handcrafted by an incredibly hard-working team of stylists, makeup artists, hairstylists and manicurists.
And while style (aka those gowns!) gets a lot of the attention, the importance of the glam squad cannot be overlooked.
The Dream Team
Take, for example, one of the best glam teams in the business: L’Oréal Paris celebrity hairstylist Mara Roszak and NARS celebrity makeup artist Rachel Goodwin, the duo behind last year’s Academy Award Best Actress winner Brie Larson and this year’s Oscar Best Actress nominee Emma Stone.
You read that right: If the La La Land actress is victorious on Sunday night, the pair will have worked with back-to-back Best Actress winners. Even if she doesn’t, the pair already be proud that they supported consecutive, spectacular Oscar runs.
This is an incredibly rare feat. Why? Well, teams like Rachel and Mara are themselves rare in the glam squad world. Hairstylist and makeup artists generally get paired up in lots of different teams because they have lots of different clients.
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
“I don’t know of any other teams who have worked together so long and so consistently,” shares Mara, who also jokes that Rachel is her “other half.” The duo has worked together for 14 years and have shared many a client.
“It’s always really funny because our agent will come to me and be like: ‘Do you want to do this job? Rachel’s already said yes.’ And I’ll be like: ‘Yes, for sure!’ It’s like a way for her to ensure that I’m going to want to do it,” Mara says, laughing. “Or a lot of times my answer will be: ‘Well, if Rachel says yes, then I’m in,’ and she’ll be like ‘Rachel said the same thing.'”
Not only do they want to work together, but Hollywood (clients, agents, publicists, etc) want them to as well. Mainly because the twosome has such a long history of producing incredible red carpet moments together. They can create beauty and—almost more importantly—they can create buzz.
“We have a similar visual language; we have a similar aesthetic in general,” says Rachel. “She’s more whimsical than me. Her aesthetic is refined fairy; mine has a little bit more of an edge. I tend to have a little more Avant Garde, rock n roll spirit and rebellious spirit. But our sensibilities complement each other. We see what the other sees and we see how the other works off each other.”
Naturally, Mara echoes the same sentiment in a separate interview, further proving their almost Olsen twin-level connection.
“We speak the same language. We talk about looks in the abstract. Like, ‘What’s the mood?’ ‘How does this make us feel?’ We’re very different artists and we have a different aesthetic to a degree but I understand hers and she understands mine—in the same way. And yet we truly come together every time. I can’t even think of a time when we’re been on totally different pages in terms of the story we wanted to tell. We’re always on the same page.”
Something that has been true since the moment they met on a plane headed to Dubai in 2003.
“I remember meeting Rachel and pretty much immediately connecting with her. She is so incredibly talented but so incredibly warm. I’ve learned so much from her. In a lot of ways she is a mentor and a sister to me,” shares Mara.
“We started our journey touring the world together with Sarah Michelle Gellar and we still till this day—14 years later—are touring the world together with different clients and a different narration,” says Rachel. “We have ridden camels in Dubai, we have climbed the great wall of China, we road in a motorcade to the Golden Globes, we have done so many things…I’ve traveled with her more than I’ve traveled with my own family!”
It helps that they travel-well together, especially since they do some of their best brainstorming on planes.
“We’ll collect images and we’ll sit and look at them on the plane and sometimes (Emma’s stylist) Petra [Flannery] will share fabric or we’ll share an image of something on the runway and we’ll be like “‘Oooh, what about this?'” says Rachel.
But as anyone who has ever flipped through a behind-the-scenes gallery knows, the real magic happens not in the air but on the ground—usually in a fancy hotel room, mere hours before a red carpet starts. And as both of them agree, it’s in this crucial time that their shorthand—which comes from years of being colleagues and genuine friends—really helps.
“I liken it to being in a band. That’s how I relate to it in terms of creativity—it’s a collaboration,” explains Rachel. “When we are collaborating we’re talking about it like that: ‘OK, should the piano be a little louder here? Or should the violins pull back?’ I’m not trying to go solo like, ‘It needs to be about this lip and y’all can just suck it.’ No, I have to work within the framework and that framework is created by our team—I’m a piece of that. I’m not looking to be the star of the show; I’m looking to make the right decision and use my expert eye to contribute to the vision as a whole.”
Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Keeping with Rachel’s music analogy: If red carpet beauty is jazz, they are Ella and Louie. A good example of that? Last year Brie flew in the morning of the SAG Awards so her gorgeous Versace dress wasn’t decided on until hours before she actual wore it. Meaning, Rachel and Mara had to spontaneously create the entire beauty aspect. And as we saw from the jaw-dropping results, clearly they’ve mastered the art of team improvisation.
“You have to be able to work on your toes and be nimble and not be attached to a look and be flexible and know things can change at the very last minute,” says Rachel.
John Sciulli/Getty Images for TNT
While the pair had nothing to do with Brie’s 2016 award show sweep (that credit goes directly to the talented actress), they (with stylist Cristina Ehrlich) did have everything to do with her coinciding, breakout red carpet year.
“On the run with Brie, I had been with clients that had been nominated in the past but this was like a real awards campaign that we were on with her. It was such an incredible honor, there’s so much responsibility in being on the team and going through this unbelievable journey with them,” shares Mara. “You are the first faces they see and the last faces they see before having to be so extremely vulnerable and go out into the world to do this thing [red carpet], that is exciting and scary. So, you do carry a sense of that through that whole journey. Just being able to be that support, for me, is so fulfilling. It’s a huge part of outside of the creative part of the job, the sort of emotional side.”
And now the team is once again on that journey, this time with their longtime client Emma. While Brie was a more recent client for the pair (Rachel has worked with the actress for a few years, and Mara joined in late 2015), the La La Land star has been their client for nearly a decade. So, understandably this red carpet season has been especially heartfelt for the duo.
“Here I am able to do the craft that I love with [Emma], helping her celebrate her moment. It’s so special to me. There’s no way to describe the gratitude there–its just too cool,” says Rachel.
And while they wouldn’t give any hints about what her look on Sunday might be, they both agreed on (again, in separate interviews) their favorite red carpet look from their time of working with her.
“We both have this really sweet spot for the first Paris premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man,” remembers Rachel of the June 2012 event. “We were having one of the best days, we were in Paris, eating pastries and laughing—we had the best time creating it.”
Adds Mara: “I think the dress was inspiring for both of us–the makeup had that edgy, moody Gothic feel while still being very feminine, which complimented with the hair. I absolutely love that look, I’m very proud of it.”
Super Bowl Sunday
There is no denying that the Oscars are the Super Bowl of red carpets. And for glam squads like Mara and Rachel who have had to constantly dazzle us for the past four months with new looks, it is the big finish: The bow, the cherry, the shinning star that tops off another awards season.
“Its pretty electric,” says Rachel, of working the Academy Awards. “It’s like an out-of-body experience.”
Which is why they both have been ready for days now—weeks, really. “Being prepared for that day is so important because then you don’t feel stressed you just get to be present, that’s what I’m always striving for,” Rachel explains. “To be able to laugh and have that glass of champagne and be happy for this person who has achieved something so wonderful.”
The bonus is, of course, she’ll be doing it with not one but two close friends. “We all share a similar sensibility and a similar sense of humor,” Rachel shares. “We’ve become family of the heart, really.”
“I feel incredibly lucky,” says Mara. “I really do feel I’ve grown up with her and I don’t know where I’d be today without having that relationship. It’s so rare in our industry and I’m just so incredibly fortunate. Plus, I’ve had these truly monumental career moments happen with Rachel side-by-side.”
There’s no doubt that Sunday will hold another one.
Watch E!’s live 2017 Oscars red carpet coverage on Sunday, Feb. 26, on-air, online and across social (#oscars and #eredcarpet) starting at 1:30 p.m. ET/10:30 a.m. PT. Following The Oscars® ceremony on ABC at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, come back to E! for our live After-Party special at 12 a.m. ET/9 p.m. PT. On Monday, Feb. 27, tune in to E! News at 7 p.m. and Fashion Police at 8 p.m. for complete Oscars coverage.