Gaux Girl - Cristina Ehrlich2020-05-29
Our newest Gaux Girl has a vast career helping Hollywood icons build their fashion identities; along the way she's become something of an industry icon herself, sought out by A-listers as an image-maker with an extensive history of memorable red-carpet (and off-the-carpet) looks.
Cristina Ehrlich has spent decades in the industry, studying her craft and building relationships with a wide range of interesting, intelligent, strong women (think Laura Dern, Mandy Moore, and Penelope Cruz). Her accomplishments have netted her plenty of accolades—she's a familiar face on the Hollywood Reporter's annual list of power stylists—and a loyal following who love her eye as much as they do her infectious energy (actress Betty Gilpin sang her praises to Variety: "Cristina is a master of seeing a person for who they are and telling that story through clothes.").
We're honored to call Cristina a Gaux Girl and loved getting to hear her perspective on style, how she builds fashion moments with celebrities, and what a long career as a dancer has taught her about routine. For even more, follow our conversation here where we discussed the style inspiration she's drawn from her mother (seen below alongside Cristina in Los Angeles).
How would you describe what you do as a stylist?
Throughout the last few years there's been an expansion of the term 'celebrity stylist.' I really spend time understanding who my clients are individually, and that's really important to me because I dress such an eclectic range of women in terms of body types, actresses, producers, etc. I like to take the time to curate the experience in an individual way for them, hone in on who they are, and what their background in fashion is. Are they open to experiment and make an arc, where we start in one place and have a goal to get to another fashion space? Or is it a very straight-forward experience where they want to get in and get out?
It's a very different relationship than the type of stylist working with a model who's there to advertise clothes or a specific product. As a celebrity stylist you're dealing with someone’s emptions, their body, their background, and how they feel about themselves in clothes. Sometimes you have a client who really loves fashion and other times they look at it as more of a job.
Trust is important for any working relationship, but seems vital for your work. Can you speak a little about how that develops between you and your clients?
Real trust is developed over time. I've learned that no matter how I may envision a new client or [what sort of] references I have—fashion photography or a character that another actress played many years ago—if that's not the mood they're feeling, you have to listen. You always want to listen to what the client is saying, read the subtext, and pick up on certain clues. All of us see ourselves one way and are seen by peers and an audience differently. Sometimes it's good to have that second set of eyes, the stylist, really telling their client what they see.
It's a very intimate exchange: They're naked, exposed, or maybe just coming from an audition or going to one. It's important to start out by gauging the clients’ vibe at the given time. Sometimes they have a lot of time, sometimes they don't; sometimes they come in and don't want to be there but know they have to. How do you shift the energy to make it fun? That's something my team and I have always been known for: making it a lot of fun. At the end of the day, trying on clothes is exhausting. It sounds like a champagne problem, but trying things on again and again, having a seamstress poke at you, something doesn't fit...after 40 minutes the thrill is over.
One of the things that so clearly identified you as a Gaux Girl was your commitment to the causes you're passionate about. Can you share your thoughts on the red carpet and fashion industry as a platform for change?
The red carpet has gone to every extreme you could possibly imagine. It's a huge source of excitement for a lot of people and brings all types of people together. Speaking about the red carpet now, there's a lot of question marks as to what it will look like in the new, post-COVID world we're all gearing up for and asking about. Hopefully, with time, as things heal and become safe, we'll be able to have people come back together with social distancing. How that's going to be executed is still to be known.
There's so much room for growth and dialogue. It's a new landscape for what the red carpet can really signify, whether that's an actress wearing a sustainable dress with a story behind it [about] helping a community or doing something. Instead of the red carpet just being for entertainment and "wow" and promotion, we'll be able to have additional meaning and bring to light what we've all gone through.
You were a serious student of dance. What sort of lessons did you learn that you applied to your overall career?
That discipline and routine are essential; not giving up is essential. "The show must go on" would be a good way to sum it up. Having been a dancer from the age of 4 and retiring at 29, I use the same process of thought: Every day I wake up and find it's time to go back to the ballet barre. I do my pliés and start my warm up, then we go to the center, then across the floor. It's like how we break up our days now. The older and more seasoned I get, everything that comes from dance keeps me moving forward. It keeps me open to embracing what's next, whether it's a new client or a client leaving.
One of the things about dance that's so beautiful is that behind a lot of the movement, whether ballet or modern, there's a whole other layer going on inside. It bleeds a lot into why I ended up as a stylist. Coming from being a dancer and an aspiring actress to doing this—I still need a place to express myself, even though I'm behind the camera.
What does being a girl on the gaux mean to you?
Prior to COVID-19, it was somebody literally always on the go: flying to LA, flying to NY, driving to a fitting, seeing a client, going to a showroom. Go, go, go. [Quarantining] is such an unexpected time to stop, reflect, and really kind of take your whole story that you live every day, put it up on the wall, step back, look at it, and think, "Oh, I don't want to do that anymore. I'm for sure not doing that anymore." Getting rid of all that.
Going forward, "on the gaux" is going to be about slowing down and getting just as much done, but maybe doing it a little differently. To be in that present state, enjoying what you're doing, is the most successful on-the-go kind of gal.
Shop The Pointe in Black Nappa here.
Shop The Espadrille in Blush Canvas here.
Photography: Stevie Danelian