From awards season to red carpet, Gossip Girl to the new reality show All That Glitters, fashion and celebrity stylist, Jennifer Michalski-Bray has worked on some of the most exciting styling projects. Splitting her time between London and New York City, Jennifer is known for her opulent and colourful looks. A self-confessed “style chameleon”, who isn’t afraid to mix things up and doesn’t believe in saving diamonds for best. Read on to find out how she’s wearing her diamonds and the fine jewellery designers that are currently at the top of her wish list.
Why do you think diamonds have such a timeless allure?
The best thing about diamonds is the fact that they go up in value, or maintain their value, so you’re never throwing money away. I have so many items hanging in my wardrobe that have depreciated so much. Whereas my engagement ring is a diamond that I know will always hold its value.
Is jewellery as important as the outfit when it comes to red-carpet styling? Which do you choose first?
Ooh, we choose the outfit first, but I think jewellery is equally as important to finish off the look. Accessorising an outfit is one of the most fun parts of my job, as I think the accessories can either make it or break it. Diamonds have always been one of my favourite accessories to work with, because no matter what you’re wearing, it can really elevate an outfit. For example, even if you’re just wearing a diamond tennis bracelet with jeans and a white t-shirt, you automatically look lush and expensive.
Have you had any funny faux-pas when borrowing diamonds for events and shoots?
Yes, I actually have! I won’t say the name of the client, but they wore a pair of Stephen Webster earrings to a really big event and when my assistant went to collect them there was only one. Who knows what happened, but it was my biggest panic of my life. We are so diligent and in all my years of styling that is the only thing that has ever been lost. It haunts me to this day!
Working with Katherine Ryanfor the upcoming BBC show All That Glitters sounds like a dream job. Did you up the ante with the jewellery styling for Katherine on this?
So, what we did was organise Katherine’s jewellery in line with the show. They’d be working on brooches one week, so I’d focus on brooches for Katherine. The next week would focus on bangles, so I’d make sure her bangle game was on point. Then, for example, if they were working with silver, I’d have her in silver jewellery. I really tried to make it cohesive with what the contestants were working on. For the most part we went for over the top jewellery because more is more! Why not!
You must have some brilliant memories from your time working in the costume department on Gossip Girl.
I get asked about this such a lot – especially now there’s a reboot! I worked under Eric Daman who’s the costume designer in the original show and he’s doing it again for the reboot. I’m really looking forward to seeing the different costumes he comes up with. I learnt so much from him; the way he styled is the reason I style the way that I do now. He’s a big inspiration in my styling work today.
My favourite look was from Season 2, when Blair and Serena were in Paris, and Serena wore this Zuhair Murad crystal cage dress. I’m obsessed with that. I still think about that to this day…that was craftsmanship right there.
How important is sustainability within the industry when it comes to which brands you work with and dress your celebrity clients in?
It’s getting increasingly more and more important. I’m finding, for us personally, we are so much more aware of where things come from. We try to be as ethical as possible by focusing on smaller brands, who are making less of an environmental impact. I think my job really lends itself to sustainability as we’re not going out and buying stuff, we’re borrowing things. I’m trying to only buy pieces that will last forever; everything I buy I want to pass down to my daughter and I want her to want it. I’m also filling up my jewellery box with pieces that I’d happily pass down.
When it comes to buying pieces is it very much a case of quality over quantity in that respect?
One hundred percent. My husband is always like “everything you want is so expensive” and I’m like “because you don’t need to get me anything else!” I would happily combine a Christmas and a birthday present for one nice gift, instead of little things that I don’t really care about.
What are your most treasured pieces of jewellery?
My engagement ring because, well, it’s self-explanatory – and from my husband. My second most coveted piece is my little ‘W’ initial ring as it’s a ‘W’ for my daughter Waverly, it’s Carolina Bucci. With her jewellery you go in and you pick the stone, and then you pick which precious metal you want. Mine has diamonds in it as well, and diamonds around the band. I’m obsessed with it. My little Waverly ring.
Growing up, did the women in your life have lots of jewellery that you coveted?
Surprisingly not. My mom was very much, and still is, very fashionable. She always looks well put together, but she doesn’t really accessorise as much as I do. However, one of my aunts had loads of jewellery and said to me “never marry a man who doesn’t buy you jewellery from day one…because they won’t start fifteen years down the line” – that was her advice and I love it! I married a man who likes buying jewellery, which is great.
What was the first piece of jewellery your husband ever bought you? Was it your engagement ring?
We actually got engaged after six months. So, yeah (laughs)!
What do you think makes jewellery so special?
I think it’s the meaning behind it. You’re always given a piece of jewellery for an occasion, or if it’s not for a specific occasion, then it’s given to you out of pure love. I think that’s just so sweet and romantic. I’m also all about women buying themselves jewellery. I think more and more women should buy their own rings and diamonds, I don’t think you should wait for a man or a partner.
Do you have a favourite jewellery designer and what is about their designs that appeal to you so much?
Oh, I don’t know if I could pick just one fine jeweller…I’m currently coveting pieces from a myriad of different designers. I love Sabine Roemer for her unique designs and impeccable craftsmanship, Alice van Cal for her colourful approach to jewellery, Susan Foster’s opal cocktail rings are to die for, Carolina Bucci for the luxe bohemian vibes and for a more classical approach to jewellery I love De Beers.
How would you describe your personal style?
Definitely a clothing chameleon. It really depends on how I’m feeling that day. Today I’m super grungy doing DIY, but I love being glam, even just having a casual outfit and bringing elements of glamour into it. Diamonds are a great way to do that. I just got a pair of earrings from Susan Foster that I’m obsessed with. They’re gold and they have diamonds on the edges and they’re two-tiered, so I’ve been wearing those a lot lately and getting lots of compliments – which I love!
Is there anyone that you haven’t had the chance to style that you’d love to get your hands on?
Oh my god, yes. Jennifer Lawrence. I’m like obsessed with her because I think we’d be good friends! She seems really fun in that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She likes a glass of wine…I like a glass of wine! I think we’d get on really well.