LOS ANGELES, United States — Stylist Micaela Erlanger, who dresses the actress Meryl Streep and several other Hollywood stars, broke her silence on Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld's recent comments that Streep refused to wear his dress to Sunday's 89th Academy Awards because the brand did not offer the actress payment for wearing the piece.
On Thursday, Lagerfeld was quoted as saying that Streep's camp told Chanel that they would no longer require the dress he had designed because they had found another house willing to pay the actress for wearing its gown to the Oscars. "I made a sketch, and we started to make the dress," Lagerfeld told Women's Wear Daily, before quoting a representative for Streep who, he said, told Chanel: "Don’t continue the dress. We found somebody who will pay us." Lagerfeld added: "A genius actress, but cheapness also, no?"
While "pay to play" is commonplace on the red carpet, some fashion houses — including Chanel — don't directly compensate celebrities for wearing their garments, though they do often gift dresses to well-known stars. Celebrities who appear in Chanel advertising campaigns, and receive payment for their work, also regularly wear the brand to events.
There are also certain celebrity entertainers who refuse direct payment for wearing brands on the red carpet. According to Streep's camp, the actress is one of them.
Erlanger's version of the story reads very differently from Lagerfeld's. "As a stylist working with a nominee for any major event, it’s industry standard for designers to propose gown ideas and sketches — some custom, some not depending on the occasion," Erlanger told BoF. "In the case of Chanel’s submission, which was presented with full knowledge that Ms. Streep and I — her stylist — were having conversations with various brands, we were shown sketches of a dress from their most recent couture collection," she continued. "Although [it was] an exquisite gown from the existing collection, we decided to go in a different direction, with another designer."
As for the comments that Streep's camp declined the dress because Chanel declined to offer payment for wearing it? "At no point were there any conversations regarding monetary compensation," Erlanger said. "Nor were any other brands considered based on their willingness to pay for placement. This is not how my company operates and is very much a practice in conflict with Ms. Streep's personal ethics. Any reports or quotes stating otherwise are a complete fabrication." Streep — who is nominated for "Best Actress" at Sunday's Academy Awards — made headlines in January when she spoke out against US president Donald Trump while accepting an award at the Golden Globes in Los Angeles.
"This is a completely untrue story," a representative for the actress wrote via email. "Ms. Streep would never wear anything in exchange for payment. This can be corroborated by Nancy Walsh at Chanel."
Update: In a statement issued to BoF, a Chanel representative wrote: "Chanel engaged in conversations with Ms. Streep's stylist to design a dress for her to wear to the Academy Awards, with the full understanding that she was considering options from other design houses. When informed by the stylist that Ms. Streep had chosen a dress by another designer there was no mention of the reason. Chanel wishes to express our continued and deep respect for Ms. Streep."