Even celebrities, whose entourages constitute the closest approximation to a contemporary cavalry of handlers, can find themselves in a sartorial pinch. Cher Coulter, stylist to Emily Mortimer and Kate Bosworth, remembers a particularly frantic last-minute call she received from the latter. Coulter was in Los Angeles when Bosworth rang from New York. The stylist had requested a dress from a shall-remain-nameless designer, a seriously complicated number “with an arm coming out of one side and not the other. I had it sent over presuming from looking at style.com that you’d just put it on. And [Kate] was on the phone going, ‘I really want to wear it, but I can’t figure out how.’” Needless to say, Bosworth chose another look.
Coulter herself has been known to go to great lengths just to get out the door. As a student at Central Saint Martins, in London, she once stitched herself into a garment. “We used to be really competitive to see what you would wear to this nightclub. And I made this dress and didn’t have time to finish it,” she explains. “I sewed myself into the side of it...so that when I got home, I just had to tear it off. I was that desperate to wear it.”
While Coulter was able to rip off her dress before bed, Blaine Trump didn’t have the same luxury when it came to the aftereffects of a certain couture gown. “I was chairing a dinner. Mr. Lacroix had made a dress for me, and it had a million buttons down the back. My husband was out of town, and I had a lady who works for me button me up. And I really didn’t think about the fact that when I got home that night, there would be no one there to get me out of it,” Trump says, laughing. “I thought, Well, I’ve got two ways to go here: I’m either going to sleep in this dress or I’m going to take a pair of scissors and destroy it.” She clearly went with the former plan, causing her housekeeper some next-day consternation. “I woke up the next morning, and Annie came in, and she’s like, ‘Are you okay?’”
From the litany of such tales, it would seem that any stylish woman must resign herself to herculean struggles—and mortification—in the name of a special night out. But Sarah Easley and Beth Buccini, whose boutique, Kirna Zabête, is known for its fashion-forward offerings including those from Rick Owens, Balenciaga, Giambattista Valli and Lanvin, insist that need not be the case. They both agree that a woman could easily put on any garment in their store without a handmaid. “Part of our philosophy in dressing ourselves and our clients is you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard,” says Easley. “There are other ways to look interesting and different without the ready-to-wear discomfort.”