Six Celebrity Stylists Who Owned the Red Carpet in 2023

These all-star stylists are shaping so much more than next year’s trends.

The Next Generation of Stylists

Courtesy/ InStyle

Speak to enough red-carpet celebrity stylists, and you’ll notice some similarities. They’ve got steel spines, superhuman work ethics, and operate on little to no sleep. They’re multitasking machines who rise and grind with an intensity most people could only achieve with a steady stream of intravenous pre-workout supplements. These shared traits are just the prerequisites for surviving in the fashion industry as an A-list stylist. To fill the Law Roach-sized hole in the industry, you’ve got to have all that and then some.

Celebrity stylists don’t just create beautiful looks, traffic samples, and make alterations. They’re confidants, cheerleaders, and members of A-list emotional support teams. We also believe they are — beyond image architects — architects of the future of fashion. Ahead, meet six powerhouse stylists who are breaking boundaries to rebuild a better fashion world, one that doesn’t gatekeep, exclude, or dismiss. And they’re doing it all while keeping the red carpets worthy of our undivided attention.

The British Firebrand: Danyul Brown

DI: The Next Generation of Stylists

Courtesy/ InStyle

Danyul Brown is the stylist celebrities go to when they want their looks for the Oscars, the Met Gala, and Fashion Week to go viral. It’s not by accident that the looks he’s crafted for Lucien Leon Laviscount, Ava Max, and Lisa Rinna have gone viral, but this L.A.-based Brit does more than simply stir the fashion pot. He blurs, subverts, and blends genre and gender to create mind-bending fashion moments. His looks aren’t for the faint of heart. It takes a deep connection, not to mention a fair amount of courage, to take these kind of next-level fashion risks, and Brown acknowledges as much. “I become best friends with them,” he says. “They trust me.”

That trust pays off, resulting in looks that turn heads and light up comment sections, like the Boucheron-collared, Breakfast at Tiffany’s–inspired ’fit Laviscount wore to the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscars party. “99.9% of the comments on the picture he posted [on Instagram] are like, ‘what the fuck is this?’ ‘What is he wearing?’ ‘This is not masculine.’” So many people were texting me like, ‘are you okay?’ ‘This is such a bad response.’” For some stylists, maybe, but not so for Brown, who texted back, “are you kidding me? This is the best response. This is what I wanted.” As for his client, Laviscount, a childhood friend of Brown, was like-minded. “Lucien called me,” Brown recalls, “and said, ‘job well done, this is what we wanted.’”

The Next Generation of Stylists

For Brown, inciting emotion is the whole point of his craft. “It’s not about getting that viral moment but about creating a stir. As a stylist, the next morning after a red carpet, I never just want to be one of those looks that people just scroll past on Instagram. I want to be one of those looks you love or hate.”

As passionate as Brown is — and he is, imbued with a crackling, infectious energy that’s palpable even over Zoom — he is also up-front about the toll that the relentless demands of celebrity styling can take. “I’m glad it’s becoming more of a conversation. Without being biased, styling is probably one of, if not the hardest jobs in fashion. A lot of us don’t sleep, and if we do, it’s two to three hours per night. We work in different time zones, we have clients globally, and we have to be available whenever. People see the final look and think it’s as easy as ABC. What people don’t realize is that sometimes it takes four, five, six months to prepare for one red carpet. Four to six different fittings, 60 to 70 different options. The Met Gala'\’s sometimes a year’s prep. I think we’re underestimated most of the time.”

Even so, Brown loves what he does. “There are times when this job becomes incredibly stressful and incredibly degrading, but I very quickly remind myself of the love that I have for this. It’s art. It’s what I want to create.”

The Multi-Hypenate: Zerina Akers

DI: The Next Generation of Stylists

Courtesy/ InStyle

To speak to Zerina Akers is to be in awe of her. Put simply, she’s accomplished everything one can accomplish as a celebrity stylist, and then she kept going. Akers, who, as Queen Bey’s stylist, created the jaw-dropping looks for Lemonde and Black Is King to name a few, isn’t just celebrity stylist royalty. She presides over a fashion empire of her own, working hard, paying it forward, and building a legacy beyond the red carpet.

“At some point this past year, there was a hard shift,” Akers tells InStyle of her journey from celebrity stylist to multi-hyphenate fashion empress. “I no longer wanted to be of service in the same way, to be devoting so much time to someone else’s life.” Alongside styling select clients, including the metallic Gucci look Beyonce wore to this year’s Grammy’s, Akers has been working on two fashion businesses and her philanthropic organization, the Akers & Akers Foundation, which builds equity in the fashion industry by providing young Black designers with the resources Akers has amassed over the course of her career.

The Next Generation of Stylists

Many stylists burn out, but when Akers felt it coming, she stepped back from styling to focus on her business ventures. “I took a break and focused on bringing up The Show Must Go On. It’s a sustainable showroom that extends the lifecycle of fashion through new and archival pieces and also offers a celebrity styling experience to the everyday woman,” she explains of the accessibility-driven project. A queen, Akers is. A gatekeeper, she is not. In fact, The Show Must Go On, launching later this year, remained in stasis while Akers worked on other projects bringing fashion to the people.

“It took a backseat when I launched Black Owned Everything,” Akers says of her Instagram account turned online marketplace for luxe lifestyle products from Black-owned businesses. It had begun of a personal catalogue of sorts in 2020, until Akers realized that she could be uplifting creators by amplifying their content. “Stylists, we don't share, but shifting into this culture of sharing has single-handedly shifted the trajectory of the these businesses and the business owners.” Booked and busy, indeed. Even overseeing the rise of a fashion empire can’t keep Akers out of the styling game for long. “I think I’m getting to the point where I think I want to create again,” the stylist tells InStyle. Akers really does create moments, not just looks. She dressed Chloe and Halle Bailey for their first couture red carpet at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards, Angela Basset for her Glamour Women of the Year cover. 

“There’s always something to do, but I think I’m getting to the point where I’m like, ‘Okay, I think I want to create [looks] again.’ I dress primarily Black women. Not to say that these girls need me, but they deserve a big moment, and not everyone can achieve that. Not everyone has the kind of proper training to achieve the right aesthetic, so I’m actually really eager to style more again.”

The Power Couple: Matthew and Reginald Reisman 

DI: The Next Generation of Stylists

Courtesy/ InStyle

If you thought stylists were underrated, just wait until you hear about tailors. Despite the fact that, according to Akers, “a tailor is king. We’re not going anywhere without a tailor,” it’s not widely known that every look seen on a red carpet has been altered to fit the celebrity wearing it — and must be returned to its original state before being sent back to a designer’s atelier. When you’re dressing Saweetie for the Vanity Fair Oscars party or Lizzo on tour, the stakes are always high, a master tailor Matthew Reisman, one-half of the happily married style and design duo Matthew and Reginald Reisman will tell you. 

“Tailors in this industry are misunderstood from an outside perspective,” Matthew says. “Most people think of a tailor and think of a slight hem, fix my zipper, sew a button. But in this space, tailoring is reconstructing. Respectfully, in a lot of situations, if there was not a tailor, there wouldn’t be a look.”

With many luxury brands still not offering inclusive sizing options, Matthew knows his job is especially vital, although he wishes the industry would work more to be inclusive. “Everybody wants to have their moment and have access to these clothes. Our clients, at their level, for how hard all of them work, should all have access to those things. Putting something on some of these A-list stars can really drive a whole brand’s business. For them to not be inclusive in having options is a struggle sometimes, but that’s why we as a duo work.”

The Next Generation of Stylists

Their duo work is already becoming iconic, but Matthew’s tailoring skills span at least a dozen of your favorite celebs from Rihanna to Kerry Washington, Megan Thee Stallion, and Law Roach himself for some of their most important moments from the Oscars to the Met Gala. 

Reggie, the stylist to Matthew’s tailor, works toward creating inclusion in a different, albeit equally important, way. “We’re always looking for new talent, on Instagram especially,” Reggie says. “We’re real advocates for that and always looking for up-and-coming designers that we can help by showcasing their work.”

As for how it feels to work side-by-side with your husband, the pair credit their relationship as a source of their ever-growing success. “Even though he’s my husband,” Reggie says, “I still look at him like my best friend. It’s a great thing to build an empire with someone you trust.”

The Gen Z Whisperer: Enrique Melendez

Enrique Melendez, fashion stylist.

Ben Cope

You might not know Enrique Melendez’s name yet, but you’ve probably been influenced by his work. As the mind behind Gen Z scream queen Jenna Ortega’s big goth energy, he’s been painting red carpets black in a way that’s made us all sit up and take notice. But for Melendez, knowing his clients feel safe and supported in an industry that doesn’t always prioritize them is far more important than seeing their names atop any best-dressed lists.

“I started working with Jenna when she was 14 years old, and as she became older, I had to provide what she wanted, pivot, listen to her, and tune out all the outside noise. I always want to make sure she feels heard and protected. With all of my clients, it’s important for me to listen rather than to think, ‘Oh, this just came off the runway in Paris. I think you should wear it.’” 

The Next Generation of Stylists

Ortega’s most iconic looks are the result of collaboration and communication — a refreshing approach in an industry that doesn’t always honor the agency of young actresses. “When something doesn’t feel right, I just stop. I can think something looks amazing on Jenna, but I don’t care how much I love it. I want her to feel good in it. A lot of the looks that we’ve created have come from conversations that weren’t even specific to a carpet.”

Collaborating and respecting his clients’ vision is a skill Melendez picked up as a stylist for musicians like the Black-Eyed Peas and Bruno Mars. “Musicians are very specific when it comes to styling,” he explains. “I still utilize a lot of those tools from styling in music for a lot of my actors. I approach every carpet that I’m working on with any of my clients as a story. I’m a storyteller.”

The It Boy: Bryon Javar

The Next Generation of Stylists

Courtesy of Bryon Javar

Bryon Javar is doing it for the culture. Born in Compton, California, and now living in Sherman Oaks, Javar has been styling for around a decade, but his work with TV darling Quinta Brunson has garnered him the kind of his attention we think he should have been getting all along. 

“I love styling Quinta because she wears so many different hats,” Javar tells InStyle, “showrunner, creator, actress, and writer. We tap into those different vibes depending on what event she’s attending.” Brunson’s career might be larger than life, but the powerhouse herself is only 4’11”. 

“I like to make her appear taller and stylish,” says Javar. “We now have an entire audience of shorter women [who] look to her for style inspiration, so the pressure is on.” The pressure is on for Javar, who performs beautifully under its weight. His red carpet looks for Brunson have kept her firmly atop the best dressed lists throughout award season, including the 2023 Met Gala — a first for the duo. Javar described the vibe as “glamour and a bit of fun that will be for the culture.” Twitter agreed

The Next Generation of Stylists

It isn’t all accolades and shattering glass ceilings, although Javar finally, after a decade, “can honestly and humbly say with my chest that I have arrived.” Knowing how difficult it is to break through, especially as a person of color, Javar now pays his successes forward whenever he can. “I use my platform to find and use new talent. It could be a new designer, a tailor, or a new nail tech for my clients. If there a job I’m not able to do, I’ll pass them along to an [up-and-coming] stylist who’s on their grind and working hard.” Javar also recognizes that creating space sometimes means opening up in a way that isn’t always glamorous. “I try to encourage others by being very open, honest, and vulnerable about my start, my up and downs, working in retail, [and] being fired.” 

While his beginnings may not have been glamorous, his present certainly is. “It feels crazy to say, but my dreams are coming to life daily. It’s what I’ve worked and prayed for.”

Related Articles