THE MONICA ROSE EFFECT: HOW THE KARDASHIANS’ STYLIST IS SHAPING THE AESTHETIC OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA GENERATION
Monica Rose might not be a household name outside of fashion circles — not yet, anyway — but the Los Angeles-based stylist is truly everywhere. As the longtime creative force behind the Kardashian family’s style, you can see her work in thousands of paparazzi photos, red carpet appearances, and, of course, their famous holiday card. (Yes, even North West is also on her extensive client list.) Despite Kanye’s undeniable influence over Kim’s closet, Rose is really the one responsible for spearheading the reality star’s sartorial reinvention over the past several years.
More recently, Rose has moved beyond just styling Kim to give each family member an easily identifiable look. She shaped Kendall Jenner’s model-off-duty aesthetic with crop tops, trench coats and loose trousers; she helped put Kylie into pencil skirts and collaborated on her new Puma ad campaign; and she worked with Khloe to determine how she wanted to portray herself as the host of her new talk show “Kocktails with Khloe.” The result? Lots of low-cut tops, clingy dresses and extremely short skirts to show off her toned physique. Kris Jenner told Fashionista in February that sharing a stylist with her entire family is great because “there’s never a conflict.” No small feat for a group that’s famous for its drama.
Beyond the Kardashian clan, Rose’s client list reads like a Who’s Who of “It” girls and includes the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid, Chrissy Teigen and Chanel Iman. Although each member of her A-list roster has her own personal style, Rose’s influence is easy to spot: It’s clingy, ’90s-inspired, and often comes in a neutral color palette. Having such a distinct aesthetic can be tricky, particularly since her clients overlap both personally and professionally. According to Rose, the challenge is keeping everyone’s individuality intact while dressing each person for her body type and personality.
Just take the Hadid and Jenner girls, who aren’t only sisters, but they’re best friends with each other. Rose says this overlap — and the group paparazzi photos that ensue — makes it all the more important to collaborate with each star on her personal aesthetic. “I always bring a large selection of clothes and highlight my favorite pieces,” she explained of her styling process via email. “I kind of get into my zone and just start creating looks, but ultimately it’s a collaborative process because in the end I want my clients to feel like themselves.”
Whether it’s Gigi Hadid’s tomboyish turn in bomber jackets or head-to-toe Adidas, or Kendall Jenner’s dramatic airport ensembles (because, let’s be real, casual travel looks for the Kardashians are a no-no), Rose said her trademark characteristic is confidence. She describes the common qualities running through her clients as “sexy, chic, and effortless — ‘cool girl’ vibes.” All of these defining features also happen to fit in nicely with her ’90s vibe. “I grew up as a teenager in the ’90s, so my aesthetic always has some element of the ’90s with a modern twist.”
And, just like everything the Kardashians/Hadids say and do, women everywhere want to copy it. Monica Rose was an early adopter of the choker resurgence, which has since cropped up on the runways at Balmain and Lanvin; on celebrities like Selena Gomez and Emily Ratajkowski; and eventually trickled down to practically every girl in America. A breeze through Forever21’s new-in selection shows Rose’s far-reaching influence: sporty criss-cross tie tops, cutout bandage dresses and fabric chokers galore. She’s not the only one who pioneered these trends, of course, but it’s hard to deny the similarities between cutout minidresses and choker tops in stock at F21 and the fact that nearly all of Rose’s clients have them in their closets.
Rose prefers not to focus on those who riff on her look, however. “I think it’s very flattering,” she told us of the imitation — and her recent celebrity status. “I don’t really pay attention until I get all these emails or [get] tagged on Instagram with young girls sending me ‘inspired by Monica Rose’ outfits.”
But while everyone else is busy stocking up on chokers, tie-up tops and oversized shirts they can wear as dresses, Rose said she’s already moving onto the next thing — just don’t try and predict what’s to come. “I want to do the opposite of what’s expected since I am styling so many girls.” Whether it’s head-to-toe streetwear (a look Kylie Jenner has already embraced), ’70s-inspired, or an inspiration that comes totally out of left field, it doesn’t matter. So long as Rose’s clients are onboard, the rest of the world will follow.