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UK’s first Celebrity Stylist Union explained: Why it was formed, what it wants and who’s involved

Posted by Dina Zubi in News

10 months ago

The Celebrity Stylist Union (CSU) was formed earlier this year and is the first of its kind in the UK. It is part of BECTU (the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union) and was co-founded by London-based celebrity stylist Michael Miller, who has worked with clients such as Asa Butterfield, Eddie Redmayne and Helena Bonham Carter.

“Not only do we help grow our clients’ star power and public persona through what they wear, but we also increase their visibility to peers, directors, casting directors, producers, labels – and, in doing so, we also help their bank balance, too. Perhaps it’s time they help us,” Miller said in a recent interview with Harper’s Bazaar. Gareth Scourfield, who has styled Russell Tovey and Ben Whishaw, and Victoria Jayne Adcock, who has worked with Gwyneth Paltrow and Rita Ora, are also part of the founding team behind the CSU.

The union is looking to form a community and ensure fair rates for its members. It is calling for rate transparency, a new rate model, an end to long payment terms and expenses to be separated from the stylist’s fee. In a statement posted on Instagram, Miller wrote: “If the rates don’t increase and our costs aren’t covered many of us will have to give it all up.” He explained the reality is there’s rarely proper contracts in place and stylists have to front huge expenses, only to be paid late and insufficiently.

The stylist also highlighted that fashion brands have a role to play and that they could help educate studio and streaming services about what the stylist role entails. “One idea is to clamp down on what [stylist fee] they will and won’t loan for, and have more defined criteria for stylists and studios to fulfil before loaning clothes,” Miller said.

The union held its first meeting in May, a few weeks after the Writers Guild of America went on the strike that later brought Hollywood to a standstill when the actors union SAG-AFTRA joined the effort. Several of the striking actors are clients of CSU members and now UK celebrity stylists have also started to push back against studios and streaming services.

Unions in the creative industries are on the rise. Earlier this year, the UK got its first influencer union, the Digital Creator Association, founded by Philip Hughes. Influencers and stylists have limited legal protection as freelancers, and this is something both unions hope to help members with. Unfair pay, lack of transparency and the need for a supportive community is also a common thread.

Miller hopes other freelancers in the fashion industry will form unions too – including hair and makeup artists, set designers, photographers and creative directors. Watch this space.

By Dina Zubi, CORQ news and features writer.