When it comes to style, Gwen Stefani's participation on "The Voice" this season brings to mind the old adage about Ginger Rogers doing everything Fred Astaire did, but backward and in high heels.
While her fellow judges — all men — are content to show up in jeans and tees (Adam Levine), jeans and blazers (Blake Shelton) and jeans and pearl-accented chains (Pharrell Williams, though, admittedly, those are Chanel necklaces), the No Doubt singer has dazzled viewers from week one with a dizzying array of looks involving hair, makeup and cutting-edge fashions.
Long admired for her red carpet and stage ensembles, Stefani's appearance on the NBC juggernaut marks the latest phase in the two-decades-long style evolution that saw her go from SoCal ska punk chick to sophisticated global star. And while the 45-year-old's fashion cred is impeccable — she has three clothing lines, including L.A.M.B. — she relies on a top-notch glam crew to help put together two to four looks for the series each week.
Stylist Petra Flannery, who also counts Emma Stone and Amy Adams as clients, has been tasked with Stefani's wardrobe. "Styling for TV is new for me and for her," says Flannery, who preps a few ensembles for each telecast. "It's not just about Gwen the performer, it's about Gwen the personality, showing her as a mentor, which is something she's really passionate about."
Highlights have included a three-piece black-and-white Chanel Resort 2015 ensemble; a futuristic, studded Barbara Bui top paired with shiny patent leather Louis Vuitton pants; a creamy two-tone suit from Vivienne Westwood 2015 Gold Label line (even the MC Hammer-style pants worked); and a silvery-white striped black Libertine jacket paired with Moschino sequined pants.
Which garnered the most audience reaction? "People went crazy for the Christopher Kane pink dress," Flannery says of the demure, crystal-studded shift that Stefani sported on the Nov. 11 show. "I think it was the soft palette that made it stand out. Gwen's always been tomboy cool, but she's also very feminine and very glamorous."
Equally fetching are Stefani's many hairstyles, the majority created by mono-monikered Danilo, who has worked with the singer for more than 17 years.
"Gwen always says she's like a real-life Barbie doll, and it's true," he says with a laugh. "But you know, she's also the mother of three, a wife, an entrepreneur, a businesswoman, and a rock star, which is very inspiring. She can't just show up looking like the boys [on the show] do — she has to be glamorous. And I want her to be the prettiest girl on the stage."
For the first few episodes, which were taped, he gave her a sort of retro-prep look: long, straight hair, with a side part and black or white matte barrettes ("simple but modern and very flattering," he notes). Once the live shows started, everything was kicked up a notch. For the Nov. 18 show, Danilo blew Stefani's hair straight back from the crown, putting a gentle flip at the ends ("a little Helmut Newton and a little Brigitte Bardot," he says). That was followed in the episode by an upswept updo ("Hitchcock heroine meets Madonna," he says). Nov. 25 featured a deep side part, pulled tight across the top and full on the sides. "I had done that on her at the Cannes Film Festival," says Danilo, whose clients include Katy Perry and Kate Hudson. "It's very '70s but with a contemporary feel." When Stefani wore the Vivienne Westwood outfit, he rolled and tucked her hair underneath, giving her "the look of a silent-film star."
After the wardrobe has been decided and the hair styled, Stefani's last stop before going in front of the cameras is makeup, which is handled by either Francesca Tolot or Gregory Arlt. While the singer's signature red lip was on prominent display in earlier episodes of "The Voice," paler shades have seized the day to great effect.
"I think that's sort of what I brought to the picture," says Tolot, who's known for her work with Beyoncé and Marion Cotillard, among others. "I first worked with [Stefani] at the Emmys this year and gave her a softer, coral lip and I guess she liked it. When I started working on 'The Voice,' she was willing to go with a softer, more feminine look. People have reacted so positively — it's interesting to see how changing a lip color can dramatically change someone's look."
For the pink Christopher Kane dress, Tolot gave Stefani cat eyes with delicate petal pink cheeks and lips. The Andre Vauthier black leather jumpsuit she wore on the Nov. 12 episode was complemented by heavy eyeliner, light peach cheeks and pale lips. "It was inspired by Debbie Harry," says Tolot, "The liner was maybe thicker than Gwen would normally have and I used a nude lip liner and sheer gloss."
Arlt cites Sharon Tate as the inspiration behind his favorite makeup look, the big eyes/pale lips Stefani wore with the Chanel ensemble on Nov. 17. He used two layers of false eyelashes, followed by black eye liner, shimmery lids, smoky gray pencil underneath and pink-coral lip gloss.
For the Nov. 25 episode Arlt liberally swept golden-hued glitter across Stefani's lids, followed by cheek bronzer and sheer berry lips with iridescent, glittery gloss for a look he called "1920s meets disco goddess."
"There's never enough glitter!" says Arlt. "She's got a lot of real estate on those eyes — her lids are huge — and we both love using it."
With the Season 7 finale scheduled to air Tuesday night, expectations are high, both for the show's winner (the prize includes $100,000 and a music contract), and for the fashionistas who will tune in to see Stefani's latest look. Viewers can count on the singer to bring the series to a fashionable conclusion, thanks to her bench of style pros.
"We all have our individual skills, but we're definitely a team on this," says Danilo. "We work hard to keep it fresh. As we like to say, 'We're in it to Gwen it!"