Any style junkie knows 2019 was not an awards season to sleep on, and that black talent, in particular, showed up and showed out—not only all season, but all year long, from Black Panther to Beale Street to Sorry to Bother You to BlacKkKlansman to, yes, even Green Book.
But while awards season is taking a well-deserved timeout until next year, industry bible The Hollywood Reporter (also known as THR) took a well-deserved moment to honor the visionaries behind some of the best red carpet performances this past year—namely, the stylists behind some of our favorite stars. If we enjoyed some incredible (and award-winning!) performances from black talent this year, the talent dressing them was equally colorful and deserving of credit, and THR saluted several standouts with their ninth annual list of “The 25 Most Powerful Stylists in Hollywood.”
Choosing the most influential stylists in Hollywood this year is no mean feat, but a few familiar names on THR’s list instantly caught our eye: self-anointed “image architect” Law Roach (Tiffany Haddish, Zendaya, Shameik Moore), Ade Samuel (Michael B. Jordan, Letitia Wright, Cynthia Erivo) and Jason Bolden (Yara Shahidi, Serena Williams, Ava DuVernay, Thandie Newton, Janet Mock and Ryan Coogler). All have given us unforgettable moments from one awards season to the next, and all are talents we regularly follow and feature here at The Glow Up.
And then there are Wayman Bannerman and Micah McDonald, better known as Wayman & Micah. As the styling duo behind the looks of Regina King, Regina Hall, KiKi Layne, Tessa Thompson, and Mary J. Blige, among others, these two had their hands full creating some of the most winning looks for the most recognized talents of the past year—reportedly around 141 looks total for King and Layne alone, both of whom began working with the team last fall.
For instance: ingenue KiKi Layne emerged as not only If Beale Street Could Talk’s luminous lead this past year but a major style star, wearing Versace, Pyer Moss, Dior and more with the poise of far more established celebrities. Of course, Layne’s leggy gorgeousness doesn’t hurt, but Wayman & Micah were instrumental in bringing her to the attention of not only Hollywood, but fashion’s elite. It’s a whirlwind that at times has stunned Layne herself, as she’s gone from relatively unknown young actress to one to watch in the space of a single year, including a coveted front row seat at Dior’s Paris presentation. “I discovered how special Ralph & Russo Couture is, and I got to have fun saying, ‘Atelier Versace’ all night at the Oscars,” joked Layne of her crash course in slayage.
Regina King—who garnered a Golden Globe, an Independent Spirit Award, a Critics Choice Award, and the Best Supporting Actress Oscar among the many accolades earned for her Beale Street performance (not to mention the 2018 Emmy she won for Netflix’s Seven Seconds)—may be a Hollywood veteran, but she credits Wayman & Micah with helping her find her stride in style.
“I’ve had stylists in the past say to me, ‘You need to stand like this, you need to do more of this,’” she told THR’s cameras. “But Wayman and Micah have always just embraced who I am. If anything, they’ve pushed me to be more comfortable.” Her favorite look of the season was ours, as well: the “sparkling rosé”-colored sequined Alberta Ferretti strapless column King wore to accept her 2019 Golden Globe.
As we know, actresses aren’t the only ones making style statements on the red carpet; stylists Van Van Alonso and Cheryl Konteh dress two of the most-watched men on red carpets worldwide—and regularly send us swooning.
Alonso is the talent behind two-time Best Supporting Actor winner Mahershala Ali’s dapper style; the two have been working together since 2016 after meeting on a shoot and later connecting on Instagram. Most important, the two convey the highly unique relationship between star and stylist, a chemistry as important as the one between co-stars, with the same amount of inherent trust the best directors inspire in their actors.
“It’s easy to put somebody in a suit, but I needed to find someone who understood me on a deeper level,” Ali told THR. “It’s about the little details that speak specifically to the person wearing it.”
Ali found his stylistic match in Alonso, who takes her client’s specific tastes and requests seriously, with a particular emphasis on details like accessories, fabric, and color. “When it comes to doing men’s tuxedos and suiting, it’s always a challenge to create a look that stands out,” Alonso says.
“You definitely encourage me to make strong choices,” Ali admits to Alonso, explaining to THR’s cameras, “she’s always going to push me further than really what I may instinctively want to do—and then, we kind of find this little sweet spot ... And so, I think together, it works.”
What’s the secret to Ali’s seemingly effortless, but always on point style? “We like to keep things original, respectful [of the event] and classic,” Alonso says. While Green Book may not have been our favorite for Best Picture, the black brocade Ermenegildo Zegna XXX tux Ali paired with a hat and aviator glasses to accept his Oscar was the actor’s hands-down favorite of the season.
“If you don’t finish with your favorite look, then something’s wrong,” he said.
We know there are many who don’t care if heartthrob Idris Elba wears anything at all, but fellow Brit Cheryl Konteh has been the actor’s longtime partner in style—so much so, the stylist can easily identify when he doesn’t consult her.
What we didn’t know about People’s 2018 Sexiest Man Alive? He hates bow ties—inconvenient for a man who spends so much time on the red carpet, let alone one regularly suggested as the next James Bond. Elba also co-designed his clergy-inspired tux for the 2019 Met Gala. But ultimately, Elba and Konteh’s favorite look was once again ours as well: the “money green” tux he wore to the 2019 Golden Globes, designed by yet another black Brit, famed menswear designer Ozwald Boateng.
But no discussion of award-winning looks would be complete without a celebration, and on Tuesday night, the stars and their star stylists gathered to celebrate another year of looking good, as THR once again joined forces with luxury shoe designer Jimmy Choo to throw their honorees an equally stylish fête. Happily, a few others deserving of the title of “power stylist” were also in attendance—see: Kollin Carter (Cardi B) and Zerina Akers (Beyoncé, Chloe x Halle)—making the evening rich with black excellence.