December 2nd 2014
From London to La-La Land, super stylist Cher Coulter is lending her unique British sensibility to the A-listers of Hollywood. She talks about red carpet dressing, her secrets to success and her new season’s wish list.
From Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to Kate Bosworth, some of Hollywood’s most fashion-forward women have entrusted their wardrobes to Brit stylist Cher Coulter. Other super-chic clients include Nicole Richie and Elizabeth Olsen. What unites these women is that each have their own individual style, elevated now and again with a little Coulter red carpet brilliance. “All of these girls have a great eye and do a lot themselves,” says Cher, sporting a knee-length Topshop print tea dress with black Nike trainers. “They’re all from different sides of fashion and I love working with that cross section.”
When we sit down for our interview at the home she shares with her Tibetan terrier Lovern in the Hollywood Hills, Cher has just jetted in from Australia where she styled Rosie for an appearance. “It’s a great relationship because we’re friends,” says Cher who has been working her magic with Rosie since she stepped into the spotlight with Transformers in 2011. “I think when you’re friends with people, it helps a lot because we’re going back and forth on Style.com, we’re both saying ‘What about this? What about that?’ Sometimes I’m just calling things in that she’s picked, sometimes I’ll call extra things in, sometimes I’ll suggest things. It’s a collaboration.” Despite having Cher’s input, how does 27-year-old Rosie never put a sartorial foot wrong? “She’s just got great personal style,” says Cher, whose favorite Rosie red carpet look was an asymmetric Gucci number for a Transformers premiere. “She’s the real thing.”
One of Cher’s most well-known clients is Kate Bosworth, who is another woman with a strong personal style. They collaborated for eight years, up until recently, and launched jewellery company JewelMint together. “She was my muse,” reflects Cher, wearing rose gold pave diamond rings from XIV Karats in Beverly Hills and silver condor earrings from Peru. “I’d think, ‘That’s so cool, I could never wear that, but she can.’ We’re still great friends but her style now is so much more refined, and she’s got such a good handle on it that someone can call it in basically. I feel really proud of going through that process with her.”
A red carpet highlight was dressing Kate in vintage Chanel couture for the Met Gala in 2008. “She walked the red carpet with Karl Lagerfeld, and we all travelled with Karl across New York to the event, which was very special,” says Cher. “It was an incredible dress and we got to look in the Chanel archives, which was a privilege.” Cher collects rare Chanel bags, like a white fur piece with a string of pearls as a strap – “It’s over the top, but I love it!” – and when asked about the career high, she replies: “The first time Chanel invited me to sit at a table at the Met Gala!”
It’s a world away from Cher’s upbringing in a town in Hertfordshire. “My Mum and Dad weren’t in the industry, so there was no connection to fashion,” she explains. “I just loved clothes, and was passionate about photography, fashion magazines and design.” A huge inspiration was a local fashion illustrator, Sarah Leete, who worked in London and took Cher under her wing. “Without her, I don’t know whether I’d have had the confidence to think it possible to work in fashion,” says Cher, who by 14 was working as a dresser at shows including Hermes and Alexander McQueen. Following a fashion design degree at Central St. Martins, she founded menswear brand AKA with friend Anne Marie Ng. It was stocked at Colette in Paris and Barneys in New York, with fans including Kate Moss and Hugh Grant.
Looking to shake up her career, Cher’s Hollywood break came when she moved to Los Angeles in 2003, at age 30. Following a chance meeting with with her old friend Orlando Bloom, who she knew from the London club scene, she was invited to style the actor for a Flaunt Magazine cover. “When I moved here, I randomly bumped into Orlando at a Streets concert. I hadn’t seen him for about seven years,” she says. From there, she styled covers with Jude Law, Katie Holmes and Jessica Biel. “This gave me insight into how Hollywood worked with publicists and the world of celeb dressing,” she says. “You’ve got to have your voice but you’ve got to listen to everyone else, and there are a lot of voices in a room, all with a different angle. You have to be a good collaborator.”
Today, Orlando Bloom is her longest-standing client. “It runs like clockwork, and it’s fun and it’s easy. He loves fashion and I love fashion, so it’s not a hard thing,” says Cher, who has also worked with Nicole Richie for several years, mostly for big events. “I enjoy working with Nicole because she likes experimenting, she embraces fashion fearlessly, and she’s not afraid of what it is. She can go from Celine to boho to punk, that’s what I love about her.” One of Cher’s high points with Nicole was the Met Gala in 2014. “We designed the dress with Donna Karan from beginning to end, which was great,” she says of Nicole’s shimmering backless gown. And what’s it been like working with rising starlet Elizabeth Olsen for four years? “She’s got a really refined sense of style, a very New York mentality. She’s sophisticated, cool and experiments, but in a different way.”
For Cher, there are no rules in fashion. “You’ve got to be true to yourself,” she says. “There’s nothing worse than trying to be someone else. For example, I know what suits me, which might mean I miss out on trends like drop-sleeved, bubble coats because I look ridiculous in them. I like the fall trends; the slimmer ’60s silhouette.” Has she made fashion mistakes herself? “Yeah, probably right now,” jokes Cher, who admits her wardrobe is crammed with clashing prints. “But I like style mistakes. It’s fashion. It should be fun and a representation of you.” What’s on her A/W ’14 wish list? “I love those sparkly, tall ‘60s-style Saint Laurent boots, with a squarish-round toe. The Gucci ones in the campaign are fab too,” enthuses Cher, whose favorite era is the early ‘90s as captured by photographer David Sims. “That’s what got me into fashion.”
Looking to the future, Cher has one more dream that she’s working towards, as well as visiting the Middle East for the first time (“It intrigues me, so hopefully I’ll go at some point!”). “I would love my own clothing line again,” she says. “I’m really busy with an existing career, so it’s finding the time. But I’ve already started designing, so hopefully it will launch soon.”
– Carrie Buckle