Rachel Brosnahan's Stylist on Dressing the Real-Life Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Sarah Slutsky, stylist to the stars, talks to L'Officiel USA about how she landed on the Best Actress winner's triumphant red carpet looks.
Reading time 7 minutes

With two Golden Globes and two Critics' Choice award wins, a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an order for season two already under its belt, it seems the world can't get enough of Amazon's most recent original hit series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — and with good reason. Rachel Brosnahan stars as Miriam "Midge" Maisel, a lovable and flawed 1950s housewife whose life turns upside-down when she realizes her winning passion for stand-up comedy—and the barriers she must tear down in pursuing it. Given the conversation surrounding women in entertainment today, it's a series that feels right at home in 2018. 

Equally winning is the real-life Mrs. Maisel, who took home the prizes for Best Actress at both recent ceremonies. And if there were an award for best dressed, she would have won that, too. Here, we catch up with Brosnahan's stylist, Sarah Slutsky (who's worked with Emma Watson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Jessica Williams) to talk about their collaborative relationship, and how she goes about bringing a little Midge to the red carpet.

William Defebaugh How did you first get involved with styling Rachel?

Sarah Slutsky Very traditional methods. I’m at the Wall Group, and my agent introduced us. Our first meeting was so lovely. We’re from the same neighborhood in Chicago. We just clicked and hit it off immediately. Regardless of whether or not we were going to work together, I knew she was someone I wanted to be friends with my entire life.

WD What is the first thing you do when going about dressing a new client?

SS It’s super collaborative. You spend time together in the beginning talking about goals and what are some of the client’s style icons, what they’re looking to achieve and how do they see themselves versus the role they’re in—anything that’s going to make their job easier. I try to address those things and really get a sense of who that person is.

WD How would you characterize her style and style icons?

SS Something I’ve always admired about Rachel is that she has such a sense of elegance and beauty in a very classic way, but also in a very youthful way. You know, she’s so young, she’s 27 years old, so I was able to imagine her as somebody who would have timelessness about her, which at the same time you can marry with some cool, young, edgy woman who is such a role model and so inspiring. I personally saw that in her, so I wanted to look to icons of the past. It might seem obvious, but this weekend at the Globes, Audrey Hepburn was an immediate reference. She just had that playful elegance about her.

WD What was your first reaction watching the show?

SS I’ve watched it three times through! I just love it. Midge is such a relatable person, she has some deep flaws but she’s trying her best and she wants to have success and she’s curious about the world and she’s learning things as she goes. As you grow up, there are things you don’t know and you’re trying to find your own two feet. I’ve had so many of my friends and colleagues reach out to me and say how much they love Midge, and how inspiring Mrs. Maisel has been for them. I adore Rachel and I adore Midge. I feel so lucky; I love working with that person and that character.

WD Obviously, one of the most defining aspects of the series is that it’s a period piece. Does the aesthetic of the show factor into your dressing Rachel?

SS I think as a stylist you have to have that conversation with the client. Are you nodding to the show? Do you want to support the show? Are you trying to be yourself outside the show? I think what’s so easy and so natural is that Midge is stylish and elegant; she has a way about herself and I see those things in Rachel. Those things come to mind and it’s fun when you find something that feels so Mrs. Maisel, but it’s also fun when you can nod to it without being so literal. You look at Midge and you see elements of style that stand the test of time, and for me as a stylist, that’s very powerful and informative—especially when you think about the work that you’re doing now, how that will look 20, 30, 40 years from now.

"At the Globes, there was this incredible sense of unity, looking around on that red carpet and knowing that all of these women were going to be wearing black, that we’re in this together; we’re supporting each other as women, as people, as an industry, as citizens of the world."

WD How did you go about deciding on her looks for the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards?

SS The Globes was definitely about an important period in our time, and is a movement that’s continuing. There was this incredible sense of unity, looking around on that red carpet and knowing that all of these women were going to be wearing black, that we’re in this together; we’re supporting each other as women, as people, as an industry, as citizens of the world. So the question was, how do you work within that construct, to still be a unique individual? I think the Vionnet gown we pulled was so perfect for Rachel because it did have that Audrey moment, it was classic, it had interest in the back—it was a classic silhouette with a playful, sheer quality that was a bit unexpected that was a perfect touch. It felt really appropriate for the moment and also gorgeous in the sense that the woman who was wearing it is so strong and stunning. For Critics’ Choice, the pink, the sheerness, and the delicateness…I don’t want to say it was a severe transition from the black dress, but I was thinking about how they would live together…ultimately, the Zuhair Murad dress was just so beautiful and it showed a spirit and a side that was also quite timeless that gave the feeling that this dress had to be worn by this woman.

WD Who are your go-to designers for Rachel?

SS My approach to styling is to generally be open minded. I will work with everyone, I want to be inclusive and I’m curious to see what might work for an event that I might not have considered previously. While it ends up being quite a lengthy process, I do try to look at every collection that is available to me and explore all the options. It’s awesome to be dazzled in a way you weren’t expected by a young brand and then maybe for the next one you have an established house. There’s a lot of opportunity that I try to uncover by looking at each event as an opportunity to re-open my eyes each time. The industry has so much to offer, I would never want to feel like we might have inadvertently held ourselves back by not exploring all the options every time.

WD Why do you think it has resonated so strongly with audiences?

SS I think it’s because the characters are so multi-faceted. You can see a bit of yourself in all of the characters. No one is so in a box. You can see where somebody has quirks that you might relate to, and someone else might have qualities that you admire. Everyone has flaws, and it doesn’t make them bad or good, it just makes them human—and incredibly relatable.

This weekend, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is streaming for free on Amazon. 



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