NEW YORK – Cristina Ehrlich, the in-demand stylist behind A-list names including Penelope Cruz, Tina Fey and Allison Williams, doesn't underestimate the power of the perfect jewellery. "There’s so much finesse and polish when it comes to finishing a look with the right piece of jewellery," she says. "You need it, even if it’s just one ring or necklace." We spoke with Ehrlich about her go-to earrings, favourite red carpet moments and the pieces that caught her eye in Sotheby's upcoming Magnificent Jewels auction.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF CRISTINA EHRLICH.
What are the biggest jewellery trends that you have noticed this season?
Trends aren’t something I pay a ton of attention to. I always want to make something special for each girl, though I have some clients who are more into taking risks and going out of their comfort zone. One trend that my office and I have played around with lately is the choker. In the same way that the seventies wouldn’t give us a break for awhile, it’s about the nineties now.
When you are styling, are there any classic jewels to which you return, time and time again?
Yes. Often, my client will have a dress that needs very clean earrings and I will almost always look for beautiful cushion cut vintage drops – something that’s not just classic studs and that evokes a strong sense of history. As much as we like to push the envelope and to be a little crafty with what we do, older diamond earrings say a lot. They show elegance.
TINA FEY AT THE 2016 ACADEMY AWARDS. PHOTO: © FAYE SADOU/RETNA LTD./CORBIS.
What are some of your favourite red carpet looks where jewellery played a big role?
When I styled Margot Robbie for the Oscars last year and decided to put her in a sleek Saint Laurent dress, I said the only way we can bump this up and give this dress its due is with a major piece of statement jewellery. The Van Cleef zipper necklace was like a whole story unto itself with the gold, diamonds and sapphires. I also loved Tina Fey at the Oscars this year. Bulgari aways makes such cool, oversized Elizabeth Taylor-esque necklaces. At first I was worried that the sapphire necklace would be confusing with the purple Atelier Versace gown, but once she tried them on together, the colours were such a magnificent pairing. Another perfect example is Brie Larson at the London premiere of Room. She wore a Valentino dress with lots of embellishment and beading. Normally you would think that pairing intricate earrings with an intricate dress would be too much, but she wore the most exquisite cameo earrings from Fred Leighton, and they really worked with the neutral palette. We haven't seen a lot of cameos lately, so it was really unexpected and fresh.
BRIE LARSON AT THE BFI FILM FESTIVAL. PHOTO: JOHN PHILLIPS/STRINGER.
With jewellery, how you wear it can be as important as what you wear – what are some of your top styling tips?
One tip is when you’re wearing bracelets, it’s always about odd numbers. I think it’s weird when you see two bangles. It doesn’t look finished. Another thing we explore in this office is that when girls wear a dress with hardware, like a dress with silver buckles, they think their jewellery has to be silver. There’s something cool, unexpected and modern about understanding that you can mix metals.
What's your advice when it comes to pulling off large statement pieces?
If you’re going to do statement earrings, my vote is to go mostly clean on the neck. You can also have something on your hand, like one or two rings or a delicate bracelet. I’m not a big fan of piling on all kinds of jewellery because then the eye doesn’t know where to go and it takes the specialness away from the overall look. It's about balance. If you’re going to do something strong on your neck, like Margot Robbie in the zipper necklace, of course your can wear earrings, but they should be small and understated.
MARGOT ROBBIE AT THE 2015 ACADEMY AWARDS. PHOTO: © EPA EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY B.V./ALAMY STOCK PHOTO.
What's the number one thing women should remember when they're selecting jewellery?
When you’re wearing important jewellery that is worth understanding, it needs the respect that it is due. So if you’re going to wear your hair down, don’t wear big earrings. To put great earrings in just because, when you can’t even see them, I feel like that’s a waste. Wear jewellery in a way that gives you the full impact.
To see Ehrlich's favourite pieces from Sotheby's upcoming Magnificent Jewels auction, click below.