Leslie Fremar, Stylist

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'I grew up in Toronto, but I’ve lived in New York for maybe 16 years. I was always interested in fashion, and I interned before I moved here. I thought maybe I would be a model, but I didn’t’ enjoy that. I really preferred behind-the-scenes stuff. When I graduated from college, my sister had just moved to New York to work at the MOMA while they were doing a big Jackson Pollock exhibit. I wanted to move to New York, too, so a friend of mine from Toronto and I, we were like, ‘We’re moving.’ I never looked back.

CAREER

It’s interesting because you can’t just come to the States from Canada. I registered at the Fashion Institute of Technology and got a student visa to be able to be here. When I was enrolled there, I interned at Harper's Bazaar in the accessories department, so that kind of got me in the door when I first got here—but I didn’t know anybody except for my sister and roommate from Toronto and a few other Canadians. I just felt like a fish out of water because I didn’t grow up in New York or in the culture, and I didn’t know anybody. Then I got a job at American Vogue as Anna Wintour’s assistant that was just by luck. It took a lot of figuring it out and some sink-or-swim moments, but it was amazing.

I worked for Anna for three years, and then I worked in the fashion department for Tonne Goodman for another two. They were very generous and let me go on trips with them to see if styling was really what I wanted to do. Then, when I was 27, I went freelance and have done that ever since. I still do editorial shoots and advertisements now, but most of my work is collaborating on looks for the award season circuit. My clients are mostly in LA and New York, so that’s a lot of traveling. There are so many shows these days—it’s about six months of work all-told. There are the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, the Critics' Choice Awards, The People’s Choice, The Oscars…it felt endless. I’m pretty proud of the work we did this past season—I had two clients nominated, and they probably each had 55 looks. I can’t pick a favorite, but I’m very proud of the work we did.

STYLE

I think I always had a voice stylistically, from a young age—I never conformed. Even if someone was telling me I had to wear heels, I was like, 'I don’t have to do that, I can wear flats.' And I almost wore flats just to be different. If someone told me I had to smoke, I was like, 'I don’t have to smoke.' You all go smoke, and I’ll do my own thing. My work is recognizable because it's always very clean and sharp, and I appreciate fashion for the art of it. So the job will come in and I’ll look to the shows for inspiration and look to editorial or street—whatever is influencing me—and I’ll make a decision and just go. I try not to doubt myself or slow down. Usually that works.

Personally, I’m very casual—I have two young kids, and I take care of myself, but I don’t need to be ‘done’ all of the time. I appreciate really natural beauties, and it’s kind of just how I live. I also don’t have the time to focus on putting that stuff together most of the time. I wear very minimal makeup, and my clothes are pretty tomboy-ish. If I’m getting dressed up, I usually gravitate toward the tuxedo over the ball gown, but that’s just my personal aesthetic. I feel like I carry myself where it doesn’t really matter what I’m wearing. I’m confident in my style and that shows through whether I’m wearing a sweater and jeans, or I’m wearing that tuxedo.

SKINCARE

My friends know—I don’t wash my face or any of that stuff really. You have to be low maintenance when you’ve gotta get a 2 and a 4 year old dressed, and you have to make them breakfast and get their socks and shoes on before you get them out the door. I would literally have to wake up at 5 in the morning to shower, wash my face, and moisturize. No time for that. A friend of mine said, ‘You’re going to regret it when you feel like you’re skin has started aging. You’ve got to get on it now.’ I was like, 'Really?' She’s a makeup artist and has sent me all this stuff. I’ve started trying it. Sometimes I’ll do it, but sometimes I’ll get lazy, and I’ll look back on the week and realize I didn’t wash my face at all. I’ll use water but not soap or anything. I have dry skin but instead of buying all this fancy skin stuff, I’ll just go to the dermatologist and ask her what to use. She’ll tell me just to go get some Cetaphil.

I’ll buy things at Whole Foods. I’m pretty big into trying to minimize using chemicals that aren't great for you. Dr. Hauschka is one of my favorites—I just started using the Soothing Cleansing Milk. Then I'll using some Clarifying Day Oil. I use Drunk Elephant's Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil sometimes—I can’t use it all the time because it’s too moisturizing. Those I bought because they were all recommended to me, but I’m also fortunate in that I get sent a lot of stuff over to try. I have tons of it, but I don’t use everything. I tried something new recently from a friend, and it broke me out. I haven’t had a pimple in a very long time and then all of a sudden I was like, ‘Ugh I’m going to kill her.’

MAKEUP

I never really wear makeup. Even when I was growing up, I was never that risqué…from a young age, I just thought beauty was about being natural. Fresh and natural and clean and secure—that’s how I live my life. Plus, I just don't really know how to do my makeup that well. Doing something on someone else—or directing how it should look—is very different than doing it on yourself. I ask questions all the time about contouring and shading—all that stuff fascinates me. It’s funny because once I walked into a work situation and I was wearing a bright lipstick that had a blue base, and the makeup artist was like, 'You cannot wear that with your skin. Your skin is pink—you need to be on the other side of red if you’re going to wear red.' I was like, really? I didn’t notice that when I looked in the mirror. It’s very easy to look at something and have a different perspective if it’s not your best friend or your sister. You’ve been hired as a professional to do this and they speak very differently. Gucci Westman’s one of my closest friends, so I usually go to her for stuff like that like...‘What color red should I use?’or 'Can you recommend a concealer?' I live in a world where I'm surrounded by experts, and I’d be crazy not to listen to them because I am definitely not a beauty expert—even if I have strong opinions.

I’ve been wearing the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer in Nude. I’ve been using that since I was a teenager—it's my longest relationship with makeup. When I think about my skin, I like to think about Snow White as my inspiration. That’s why I never go in the sun. I would wear more foundation and concealer if I thought I could make it look natural, but that’s not where my talents lie. It looks too obvious. I need little things to cover my tiredness and the fact that my skin is not that even-toned. ByTerry Sheer Expert is pretty good for that—it makes everything uniform. If I feel tired, I just put my glasses on and feel like that black from the frame detracts from my face.

I do like mascara, though. I use YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara in High Density Black but not every day—God no. I look in the mirror with nothing on and think I look fine. If I looked in the mirror and I wasn’t happy, maybe I’d put more effort into trying to look better, but I am who I am. I’m comfortable with that. When I'm going out, I’ll sometimes wear lipstick and do my eyebrows with the YSL Dessin Des Sourcils Eyebrow Pencil in 3 Glazed Brown. Again, subtle—but I usually am only doing my makeup because people tell me I should do it.

HAIR

I don't wash my hair every day, but I do love a good, long shower. It'll get to the point where my husband asks 'Are you drowning in there?' It gets pretty hot in here. I use California Baby Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash. Sometimes I’ll use Jāsön Natural Body Wash. I have really sensitive skin that probably gets drier because I sit in the shower for so long.

Once I'm out, I'll use coconut oil or olive oil on my hair. Then sometimes I'll use Sachajuan Ocean Mist, which is pretty good.

BODY

I love massages. I get massages all the time. That’s an expensive habit, but I can't help it. It depends on my mood—sometimes I’ll do deep tissue, sometimes I’ll just want to relax and do a Swedish massage. Sometimes I’ll do the lymphatic drainage. I love it. Sometimes they’ll do the ones that are stretchy and you’ll feel like you left Yoga class. The Greenwich Hotel is right here, so I’ll just run over and go get a massage and sit by the pool.

For exercise, I’ll go to yoga sometimes. I’ll go to spin class because I like the music. If the music is really loud, it's a better workout for me. Even hot yoga, where you sweat so much, is just 45 minutes of really loud music. Laurie at the Tribeca Soul Cycle has a really good playlist—she’ll play pop like Rihanna or Beyoncé and Mumford and Sons. She’ll get the emotions going up and down. That’s the technique that they use. I think they use the music to make you happy or make you a little Zen. I think music’s important for everything. Things like that help me not get consumed by what I do. I just feel like getting obsessed and getting so deep into all that stuff can make you feel bad about yourself. You just have to embrace yourself. If my skin is dirty, I’ll clean it. If it’s dry, I’ll moisturize it. If I’m going out and look tired, I’ll cover it. I’ve simplified it for myself for sure.”

—as told to ITG

Leslie Fremar photographed by Tom Newton. For more on The Top Shelf, check out Lucy Chadwick, Meredith Melling, and Stacy London.