Q&A

Don't play it safe on the red carpet, Brad Goreski begs

Brad Goreski applauds risk-takers on the red carpet: Don't fear the worst-dressed list; at least you tried

When E!'s revamped "Fashion Police" returned to the air last month after the death of Joan Rivers, one reason it worked was the smiling, bespectacled man sitting next to new host Kathy Griffin, fashion stylist Brad Goreski, who came aboard to take the spot vacated by George Kotsiopoulos.

With Griffin serving as the mistress of zingers, Kelly Osbourne as the brash young fashionista and Giuliana Rancic representing a more mainstream view, it's Goreski's job to give the show professional credibility as well as laughs. He's a longtime Hollywood stylist to stars such as Jessica Alba, Rashida Jones and Demi Moore; current brand stylist for Kate Spade New York (that was his work you saw in the sparkly holiday commercials starring Anna Kendrick); and a veteran of fashion reality TV, starring in Bravo's "It's a Brad, Brad World" after appearing for three seasons as a regular on "The Rachel Zoe Project."

The dapper, 37-year-old Goreski's impish demeanor brings to mind a better-dressed Tin Man. We talked with him on a rare afternoon when he wasn't covering an awards show for "Fashion Police" or dressing an actress for an event.

Save for a few missteps, everyone looks good on the red carpet these days. Do you ever long for the days of Demi Moore in her bicycle-shorts-and-gown ensemble, or Lara Flynn Boyle's pink ballerina outfit?

Yes, I definitely do. But I have to admit that, as a stylist, that's why a lot of the missteps have stopped happening — because actresses have decided to use our services. So it's kind of my fault, I guess. And while we certainly celebrate the good, we also need the bad on "Fashion Police," so, yes, I wish those days would come back.

The Grammy Awards take place Feb. 8. Is there a difference between dressing for the Grammys as opposed to, say, the Oscars?

The Grammys red carpet is where you expect the attendees to take big fashion risks. Performing artists are given a lot more freedom than actors to push boundaries on the red carpet. As a stylist, I have to say that the Oscars are the grand ball.

What's the biggest mistake made when dressing for the red carpet?

The biggest mistakes usually involve tailoring — gowns not fitting properly. It's so important and can make all the difference. The second biggest mistake is not posing properly. Part of conquering the red carpet is not only choosing the right dress but then selling that dress. The reason Jennifer Lopez always looks so great, besides the gorgeous gowns, is because she knows how to pose in them, how to give photographers the fashion money shot. Think about Lupita Nyong'o twirling in pale blue Prada at last year's Oscars — that's what I mean.

Speaking of which: Off the top of your head, what two Oscar looks top your best-ever list?

[Pause] I'd have to say Michelle Williams wearing Vera Wang [in 2006] — that jewel-like yellow looked amazing on the red carpet, as did her soft hair and red lips. And Gwyneth Paltrow in white Tom Ford [2012]. It was such a clean, minimal look, right down to her low ponytail and simple diamond cuff. The red carpet had always been very opulent until then, and that signaled a turning point.

What's a red carpet trend that you never want to see repeated?

Hmmmm.... I think a bad trend is playing it too safe. I think we really appreciate it when they go for it — even if they turn up on a worst-dressed list, at least they tried. And it's often a great decision. I love that Jennifer Aniston is easing out of her regular look and trying out new things like the red suit she just wore [at the Critics' Choice Awards]. And Emma Stone in those Lanvin pants [at the Golden Globes] was so great!

If you could dress one celebrity from the past, who would it be?

Marilyn Monroe! She's part of the reason I wanted to be a stylist. When I was growing up, she just embodied to me what glamour and beauty are. My mom likes to tell a story about how when I was 5 years old and at my aunt's wedding, I refused to dance with any woman who wasn't a blond. That was probably because of Marilyn.

Aside from your own clients, who do you consider the most stylish woman in the world?

Ooooh.... I'd have to say Diane Kruger. I think she always gets it right, and she's one of the only celebrities who doesn't use a stylist. She's never overdone, and her hair and makeup are always beautiful. In 2012, when she was on the jury at the Cannes Film Festival, everything she wore was amazing, mind-blowing. She also happens to be extremely nice and intelligent and gracious, which is a very rare combination.

Men are kind of stuck with the penguin look, i.e. the black tux and white shirt. What can a guy do to mix up his formal look?

Change the color a bit, go with navy or heather gray. But there's a handful of guys who have continued to up their style game lately: Jared [Leto] looks good; he keeps it fashionable. Pharrell [Williams] does a great job of keeping it cool and fashionable. Matthew McConaughey has been taking more risks lately, like with a red or blue suit, and it looks good.

Joan Rivers was such a huge presence in pop culture in general and "Fashion Police" in particular. Did you hesitate joining the show after she died?

I said "yes" right away. I felt honored that they wanted me to be a part of it, because her legacy is so strong. Everybody misses her so much, and she was so kind to me when I was a guest on the show, and I'm sad I didn't get to work with her more. But the last few weeks have been such a great experience. I think we were all nervous before the first show, but I was so happy with how it turned out. There was immediate chemistry and that was a great relief.

The show requires you to be both critical and funny. What's the line between funny and mean?

I don't think I'm mean-spirited, I'm opinionated. I come from an area of expertise using my stylist's eye.... I really want to make people laugh, but not in a mean way. That's not who I am — I'm Canadian! [Laughs.] Also, I don't want my mom calling to tell me I'm being mean — I always hear her voice in the back of my head.

Lastly: Congratulations! You and your boyfriend [writer-producer] Gary Janetti recently became engaged. When's the wedding and who's the bigger groomzilla?

Well, he's busy doing a second season of a TV show called "Vicious" in London, so all wedding plans are on hold for the moment. And we have a lot to live up to — our 10th anniversary, a "Les Miz" flash mob, is going to be hard to top. As far as the groomzilla goes, let's be honest: It's probably me. I'll worry about the outfits! The venue! The rings! [Pause.] But you know, I never, ever thought I'd get married — it wasn't even a possibility as a gay man. And now I really do get to marry the person I love and have my family there and everything. It's such a wonderful thing.

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