Micaela Erlanger, Stylist To The Stars, On Her New Bridal Venture
Did you know that Micaela Erlanger, the red carpet maestro whom A listers have on speed dial, is also here for all your bridal needs? The celebrity-adored stylist branched out into the world of wedding fashion in 2019, shortly before the pandemic turned the industry on its head. Still, Erlanger endeavored to make her name and mark her arrival, collaborating with designers, offering free consulting to brides around the world, and lining up major projects. The Daily caught up with the fashion powerhouse to hear her predictions for what’s in store for 2021 and beyond.
What’s your earliest memory involving fashion? Did any other job ever enter the equation?
I went to Parsons and received a business degree in Design and Marketing. I always knew I wanted to work in fashion, but I thought I wanted to work at a magazine. I graduated in ’08 and no one was hiring, so my dreams of being a fashion editor were dashed! Like any graduate, I reached out to my network and I was introduced to a well-known stylist called Annabel Tollman. Her assistant hired me and I interned again for a whole year. I treated it like a job and ultimately went on to find out that I loved that world.
What did you love about this time?
It was such an exciting time, working on everything from ads and music videos to red carpets and lookbooks. I did a short stint as a costume designer in L.A. too, and then went on to work for the same stylist. It was a long route, but a full circle moment. I firmly believe in putting in the time: experience can’t be rushed. I valued working on a variety of projects, shaping my eye and my creative vision.
When did you know you were ready to branch out on your own?
I always had my own thing going, even when I worked for other people. I maintained side hustles throughout it all.
When you’re running your own company, it’s a one man show and you’re doing it all. That’s often overlooked! My first client was Michelle Dockery—we were introduced through a makeup artist. Your relationships are so important and trust comes with time. To all the millennials out there, remember that success doesn’t come overnight!
What else do you remember from the early days?
I worked harder than anyone I knew. I showed up early, I stayed late. I didn’t have an office and I was working out of my studio apartment. All the FedEx boxes were in my tub and kitchen so they were always occupied but I figured out how to make it work…I would shower at the gym across the street! This went on for like a year! I had worked for Annabel for six years and that foundation was really critical. Her support and having her as a mentor; I am so grateful for that. Having that relationship and someone that you can lean on and ask questions and look to for guidance—especially in the world of freelance where it can be very isolating, that was something I really valued. She passed away unexpectedly in June 2013
I met Lupita [Nyong’o] in August—and in many ways, I feel like I maybe had a little guardian angel, as I was able to move into Annabel’s office at that time. I had established myself enough to take over the lease and the work space, and to have a space to grow my company. That was a pivotal time. I’m glad I went through what I did. I wouldn’t change anything!
You’ve worked with some of the most famous women in the world…what’s one thing that all your clients have in common, no matter who they are?
I think there is a mutual understanding and level of trust. These are really private moments and milestones for them, and there’s a lot of pressure attached. When you’re bringing someone in to your inner circle, there has to be an understanding. I take a lot of responsibility in that. It’s kind of like dating! The getting to know you process, trust, respect.
Was bridal styling something you were always interested in, or did it develop later in your career?
It wasn’t something I’d considered until I got engaged—I’ve now been engaged for far too long, my wedding has been postponed four times! I saw the opportunity as a newly-engaged bride to be who was feeling overwhelmed, not sure where to start, and faced with so many options. I had access to everything, but still felt like there wasn’t the right assortment or curation available for someone fashion forward. I realized I had a lot to offer and there was a total need and whitespace for luxury-focused bridal styling for private clients. I also realized how many parallels there were between a star on the red carpet and a bride on her wedding day.
How did you go about launching the service?
I wanted to structure the expansion of my business in a meaningful way. My first bride was Amanda Hearst—it was one heck of a way to announce my foray into the wedding space! I was introduced to her via the creative directors of Oscar de la Renta, who thought we’d be a match, and the rest is history! I’m so passionate about it and there’s so much opportunity.
Where do you see the bridal styling arm of your business going?
I have and will continue to maintain my celebrity and red carpet business, that’s not going anywhere. But I’ve worked with countless brides and done some amazing projects so far which have been putting my expert eye to use. I created and designed rings with Forevermark and I have some exciting collaborations on the horizon! I’ve been consulting too with brands that want to include a bridal offering or help refine their existing ones. I also did amazing shoots in Bali and Hong Kong with the St. Regis.
Are you hoping to collaborate on a bridal dress offering one day?
That would be a dream! I’m just looking for the right partner…
When the pandemic hit, how did you initially pivot the bridal styling service?
Celebrity and red carpet came to a standstill first: everything was canceled. Personally, I was in the middle of postponing my own wedding and helping clients navigate what to do with theirs. After the dust settled, I used the time to focus on brand development and really building my relationships with key wedding professionals. We were all able to meet virtually because there was so much downtime. Everything was on pause, but it wasn’t going to stop me! It’s how my IG Live series was formulated. For six months, I did free consultations and donated to three charities and organizations. I consulted with a total of 60 brides across India, Brazil, Russia, Asia, the U.S., and Europe. It was a meaningful experience getting to share my knowledge and expertise with people who were truly having a very difficult time. Since then, I’m busy again and I’ve a number of weddings on the horizon, and the world of red carpets is opening back up so I’m back to what my business entails. I’m focusing on creating custom designs with brands that don’t necessarily offer wedding dress connections and providing that exclusive access with what is usually reserved for A list stars.
How did navigating the challenges of 2020 as a bridal stylist push you in a good way?
I think it accelerated everything. It showed my resourcefulness—being able to connect with people and maintain those relationships. It gave me a lot more perspective.
Any special stories you can let us in on from the brides you consulted with last year?
They would send me photos—one even had her pictures ran on Over The Moon and they turned out so beautiful. It was really heartwarming. I also collaborated with Brandon Maxwell on a giveaway for three brides in need. He did the dresses and I styled them and did the accessorizing, that felt so good!
The Internet is filled with advice for brides, but above all, what’s the one thing you tell each woman before their big day?
I think before the dress selection happens, they have to be comfortable. There’s nothing worse than a bride in a dress she can’t walk in. You don’t want to worry, you want to be present in the moment, and feel amazing in your dress. Another tip for the big day is to try and be present in the moments as they unfold. Everything is done at this point, there’s nothing left to worry about other than enjoying your special day, and that’s when the magic happens.
What bridal trends do you think will be left behind as a result of 2020, and what’s coming to the fore instead?
A lot! Theres a crazy demand for weddings and events. Getting married on a week day is no longer going to be taboo— there’s not enough weekends left! Additionally, we’ll see brides looking to wear something that maybe they can get more milage out of: separates, something with a print, something with color. Brides are now more open to thinking outside the box. Couples are also doing two weddings with some sort of smaller intimate ceremony and then looking to plan something larger at a later date, so we’re seeing brides that need significantly more in terms of number of looks. Couples are also investing more in wedding and engagement rings, considering their events are scaled back and some budget might be freed up.
What brides do you look to for timeless inspiration?
When I approach a client, it’s very personal. In terms of inspiration for myself, I look to the classics and old Hollywood—Grace Kelly, Kate Middleton, Elizabeth Taylor (when she wore peach!), and Audrey Hepburn. All the greats!
Do you have some risk taking brides that inspire you too?
Mandy Moore and Jessica Biel, who both wore pink! I’m working with a bride right now who’s wearing a color. I thought it was so fresh and fun, and still beautiful.
What bridal trends do you currently have your eye on?
Dress-wise, I think for me it’s color and print. I’ve always been a big proponent of thinking outside the box, imagining a more modern but sill timeless approach. I think this idea that you have to be in white is a bit archaic. There’s something really nice about the tradition, but I think it’s kind of exciting and new to reimagine the way you will look. And the return to the courthouse: I think there’s nothing more chic than a little courthouse dress or suit! I absolutely live for it.
Any emerging bridal designers that come to mind?
I think we will see a lot come out of this upcoming season. Sahroo are really cool; I love their approach and how they do separates which could be mixed and matched. I certainly always look to Oscar de la Renta as one of the great classics for bridal. Markarian has been doing great things, I expect she’ll have a busy year!
What will summer weddings in 2021 be all about?
One heck of a celebration! Everyone has been so pent up that they’re thrilled to finally be out and around people. It’s going to call for more of a joyous celebration! People are really focused on honoring whats most important—the commitment. There’ll be a lot of creativity, and great celebrations even though they’ll continue to be small and intimate.