Armed and Demand: Celebrity Stylist Brandon Liberati
Now that same-sex marriage is legal in New York, more and more couples are in a rush to get to the church/synagogue/yoga retreat on time. Before you rush to the judge, take the advice of wedding pros, who still advise you to take your time.
Celebrity stylist Brandon Liberati, who may just be the hottest Hollywood stylist to hold a blow-dryer since Warren Beatty strapped one onto his belt in “Shampoo,” is big on caution, even bigger on advice.
“There’s been a surge in questions,” Liberati says of post-New York legalization. “There’s so much tradition behind the word ‘marriage.’ The roles are not presented to us; we are making this stuff up as we go.” Liberati hasn’t taken out ads, hasn’t been Tweeting his friends encouraging them to tie the knot, and he hasn’t scheduled more gay weddings—yet.
He also doesn’t need to. Liberati, 39, is one of a few openly gay Hollywood stylists whose name alone sells. Gay weddings are a favorite for the Utah native, however, and Liberati says he’d love to do more of them as legalization and acceptance flourish.
“The main thing a gay couple needs to focus on is being cohesive,” says Liberati, “while still expressing their personal style.” For women, this means making sure both brides have an individual look. “You don’t want them to look like clones,” he says. “For a couple like Ellen and Porsche, who are in two totally different elements, it’s easier. But if both brides are wearing dresses, you have to bring out a sense of style for each one of them. It’s a trickier process.”
Ditto for men. Says Liberati: “Even if the guys fit into the same genre, there’s gonna be differences. I have to ask the right questions. The details can be different, in colors, jewelry, belts, ties, and hair. It’s tacky when two people look like bookends.”
Yes, Liberati goes further than hair and makeup, and he bills for his time, not his services. He makes sure clients have a run-through about a month before the wedding, insists on talking to couples alone and separately, and has them bring in as many photos and ideas as possible.
In Hollywood all ideas tend to revolve around the movies, and Liberati gets his fair share of “Make me look like him” requests. “It’s all about celebrities,” he says. “They’re on the cutting edge, even if I don’t like the look. I have to be realistic with what I can do for the person. I have to educate them. A lot of times what the client wants is one piece of hair that’s falling, from a photo. I tell them we can get something similar by working with what you have.”
In the regular world fashion is determined by Hollywood, and gay weddings are following the trends. A great stylist needs to accept that, says Liberati, and also put his own stamp on the finished product. “If I’ve agreed to do something, it’s going to be a representation of my work,” he says.
Since Liberati’s hoping to marry his partner, fitness guru Craig Ramsay, he’s just as invested in the process as every other consumer. And that’s exactly what he intends to be. “I will have someone else do it,” he says of his own wedding styling. “I love being a client. It’s a good reminder to experience how other people do your job.” Plus, he adds, “It’s nice to sit down.”
Considering how much work is coming Liberati’s way, taking his own advice might be his smartest idea yet.
Photo credit: John Skalicky
David Toussaint is the author of the Gay Couple's Guide to Wedding Planning, Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony, and TOUSSAINT!.