BY Advocate Contributors
February 10 2010 9:00 AM ET
Los Angeles // 38
Art Conn got his big break in 2001 when a friend asked him to dress the cast of Days of Our Lives for a magazine shoot—a dream come true for a lifelong fan. While his job as assistant wardrobe stylist on American Idol requires more organization and technical work than a gut instinct for fashion, it’s hardly all toil even now. “My favorite days at work on Idol,” Conn says, “are right after eliminations. We take the remaining contestants and hit the streets to go shopping. We discuss their next song and we collaborate and try things on.” Conn describes how a Zara suit shook up Adam Lambert’s rocker image for his performance of “The Tracks of My Tears” and how the orange Nicole Miller dress that Jordin Sparks wore for “A Broken Wing” sold out before the show had aired on the West Coast (an appreciative Miller took him out for dinner). Because of his knack for dressing plus-size women contestants, Conn was introduced to Carnie Wilson, whom he now styles for her reality show, Unstapled, on the Game Show Network. Though he’s greeted by name by every clerk in Beverly Center mall (and he probably gets a killer discount), friends are warned not to take advantage. “I hate it!” he says about friends who try to spring a shopping spree on him. “I tell them, ‘I don’t go to your office and ask you to work for me!’ ”
New York City // 34
When Jerod McClairn first moved to Manhattan at age 19, his eyes were squarely set on a career in the fashion industry. He learned his craft from some of the best in this biz—he assisted celebrity stylist June Ambrose—before moving on to his own clients and eventually catching the eye of former New York Knicks shooting guard Allan Houston. (“I thought he was a singer,” McClairn laughs. “I was so not into sports.”) Houston tasked him with designing him a custom wardrobe, McClairn’s first venture into the big and tall market. Other athletes followed suit, leading McClairn to start Leco Harrell, the custom men’s fashion line he runs with his two business partners. It’s a decidedly high-end venture (a custom bomber jacket could run upward of $7,000) and a gig McClairn says is a dream come true. “I’m friends with the players and their wives. They love that I don’t know anything about sports… None of them care that I’m gay,” he says. Though on occasion, he says, some do care. “One of my clients will be out with me, motion to some guy and say, ‘You know he’s trying to kick it to you, right?’ That’s the best.”
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