"In the beginning I would sweat," he said of working with celebrities. "You go into the room and there's the PR, there's the manager, there's the agent, there's the stylist, there's the makeup artist, the hair stylist — they're all sitting and looking at me do their client. I'm like, 'OK, why are there all these people here?' But I said no, zero in and do what you're doing. It's a different feeling now. I feel just as confident as they are. We're all professionals working for this one person."
"The simplest nip and tuck has changed the way a classic T-shirt fits as well as my jeans, not to mention the red carpet dresses he has worked miracles on," Aniston said of Gonzales in an email.
When designer Tom Ford needed someone to alter Colin Firth's slim, 1960s-inspired suits on his 2009 film "A Single Man," Ford hired Gonzales, which is sort of like having Mario Andretti hire you to work on his car.
As painstaking as his craftsmanship is, Gonzales is lax about other things. For years he forgot to invoice people, until a client encouraged him to hire a business manager. There's a mezuza on the door of his studio from the space's prior tenant. Asked why he left it, Gonzales, a Mexican American who was raised Catholic, shrugs. "Why not?"
He enjoys the quiet, detailed work of tailoring a beaded, $40,000 gown.
"It's like a little meditation or therapy or whatever," Gonzales said. "It's great, 'cause you know you're going to see it on the red carpet. And you think, that dress didn't fit like that when I tried it on her."
Gonzales isn't married, has three dogs and gets back to his Hollywood Hills home by 9:30.
"I like to be busy," he said. "I'm not a party person who goes out and drinks, so I use that time to rest."
His own line, 12 pieces for men and women, is inspired by designers like Ford and Valentino, whose work he has studied stitch by stitch. He honed it making custom garments for clients like Schulman, who wore a white tuxedo of Gonzales' to host an event for the group Women in Film, of which she's president.
His business relies on the income from steady customers like Schulman and Vergara, who has enlisted him for everything from Pepsi commercials to parties. "That girl makes our house payments," Gonzales said of Vergara.
Gonzales said he charges $3,500 for one of his custom tuxedos, $3,000 for a custom men's suit and $800 for a custom black dress.
"I met Mario as a tailor, but he transitioned into a designer in front of my eyes over the years," Schulman said. "He's naturally talented without being jaded, and that's a rare thing in Beverly Hills."
As the older European craftsmen who trained Gonzales have retired, many of the skills they taught him are also becoming harder to find in young tailors, he said, such as shortening sleeves from the top, a technique he considers a must-have among potential assistants.
"It's a dying trade, really," Gonzales said. "I guess I just can't retire."