FASHIONS Stylist adds polish to make stars shine
This dresser for celebrities puts his clients into perfect apparel.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
In the war against run-of-the-mill celebrity dress-up, one of the biggest guns a star can hire is Phillip Bloch. The ubiquitous stylist with the signature beret and Gable-esque mustache helps beautiful people like Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman and Salma Hayek dazzle in the limelight, thanks to his magical ministrations with just the right outfits, shoes and accessories.
Bloch (rhymes with frock), 40, was responsible for the stunning ensemble Halle Berry wore to last year's Academy Awards. She became the first black woman to win the best-actress statuette and garnered universal plaudits for her Elie Saab ball gown with the appliqued sheer bodice that fit like a dream.
Berry and Bloch were together again as she began the road show to plug her Bond girl role in the 007 thriller, "Die Another Day." The stylist was on board to coordinate her wardrobe for the various premieres from Los Angeles to London.
Bloch, a peripatetic sort with a gift for gab, spends only part of his time putting his clients into perfect apparel. The bicoastal resident is also guest correspondent for ABC, the E! channel, "Access Hollywood," and "Entertainment Tonight," as well as for international networks including the BBC and Telemundo. Every Friday afternoon, he is featured in a segment for CNN's "Headline News." He has written a book, "Elements of Style," and acts in indie flicks, too (currently he is working on reincarnating silent-movie star Ramon Novarro). Plus he pitches for various conglomerates, among them Revlon, Hanes Hosiery and Luxottica Eyewear.
Furthermore, recently the native New Yorker became fashion editor at eBay, writing a monthly online column that mixes bubbly advice with lots of eBay links to everything from strappy sandals to vintage floral beadwork to cashmere fisherman sweaters.
Fortunately, Bloch relishes dispensing pointers to anyone, from high-maintenance superstars to teenagers just developing their fashion sense. It all began "early on, much earlier than it was supposed to be," when he was a server at Manhattan's Studio 54, bringing drinks to disco denizens including Bianca Jagger and Cher. Eventually he became a model in Europe, where he learned to speak French, Italian and Spanish. A stint as a clothing designer was short-lived.
"After that I wanted to find a way to work with these cool people, do luxurious things, eat well and have flexible hours," he says.
As a stylist, Bloch's decisions can mean the difference between fans loving or loathing what they see on celebrities. Its importance can't be underestimated. Example A: Gwyneth Paltrow's disastrous Goth/whacked-out Heidi get-up at the Oscars in March. Too bad she hadn't consulted Bloch, who doesn't believe in shocking onlookers.
He says, "I feel everyone can feel and look like a princess, and that's my vision. I can do some funky looks, but in general I like to go for the Grace Kelly effect, or Jackie Kennedy chic."
Clients who share that vision know they'll be getting the full Bloch treatment, which means no bull -- and hardly any dissent from them. "If someone absolutely has to wear an unapproved garment, I tell them, 'Fine, but don't you dare tell anyone I did the styling.' I've only had to do that one time. That's why they hire me!"
"People find my honesty really disarming," he continues. "I'll tell someone, 'Your boobs look so saggy in that.' I feel I'm one of the few men on the face of the planet who can say that to a client and not get my face slapped. I look at the female anatomy and appreciate it in all its splendor but also see it as a piece of work. Bras are very important! You should change them at least every two years because they get worn out, no elasticity! It's all about creating length, especially if you're short-waisted."
His No. 1 fashion don't? "I really hate white stockings; they're just the worst! And if you're over 22, you shouldn't wear cowboy boots with short skirts. Oooo, is that wrong! It's too Britney."
Asked what he envisions on his tombstone, he pauses for perhaps the only time in a 90-minute conversation. "He was cool, chic and timeless," he finally replies. "Also 'patient and understanding' -- I'd love to be known for those, too, but I might not be there yet!"