Welcome to our new podcast,Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr. Think of it as your direct line to the designers, stylists, beauty experts, editors, and tastemakers who are shaping the fashion and beauty world. Subscribe to Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
We ooh and ahh and compile Best Dressed Lists when celebs make their way through the red carpet, but rarely do we take the time to acknowledge the real awards-season heroes: celebrity stylists. Wayman Bannerman and Micah McDonald are two of the most underrated stars of the red carpet. Whether you’re familiar with their names or not, you’ve likely a fan of their work. The Los Angeles–based duo has built an impressive client roster including the likes of Tessa Thompson, Regina King, Jennifer Hudson, and Kelly Marie Tran, in addition to their history of editorial and brand styling.
Since launching their partnership Wayman + Micah in 2013, they’ve gone on to style for dozens of awards shows, worked on campaigns for Cadillac, Macy’s, and Lacoste to name a few, and were recently named among the Top 10 Stylists of the Decade by The Hollywood Reporter. We could rave on and on about the sartorial masterminds, but we’ll let their undeniable chemistry and palpable working synergy speak for itself. Catch the entire podcast above and read on for a few of our favorite snippets below.
Can we talk about [Regina King at] the Oscars? What were some of those initial conversations? Was there any push and pull? Was everyone on the same page? How did it go?
Wayman Bannerman: We approached Regina like, “So this is what we would like to do for the Oscars,” and she said, “Okay.”
Micah McDonald: She saw the [Louis Vuitton] sketch and was like, “Ooh, well, yeah!” And it’s so interesting with the Oscars. You really want to say you aren’t affected or swayed by social media in any way or regard, but after the orange Christopher John Rogers [dress she wore to the CDGA Awards] and all of the comments I’m seeing on different pages, I’m like, “Should I have saved this for Oscars? What’s going to top this? How do you do anything after this? What could you do after this?”
WB: It’s very special; it’s very interesting. [The dress] is a work of art, actually.
MM: I think people keep Regina in this more sartorial light, but there’s a little fantasy to this one; a little escape. I think going into it, we really wanted to have that and express that.
WB: We went into the Emmys with escapism because of the pandemic and everyone being at home. We wanted to create joy and we wanted to create cheer and happiness for people at home. I think it’s only right that we end on the same note of escapism. We get so many messages of people loving and celebrating what we’re doing. Why not push a little bit more to give them something special for the grand finale?
Regina King at the 2021 Oscars wearing Louis Vuitton
Forest Whitaker ended up being one of your first clients. How did that work? How did that relationship work? Did you pitch yourselves? Tell me all about it.
WB: We were very strategic with our processes. We started connecting our relationships together and we started networking with people in the industry. We live by, “Proclaim what you want, tell people what you want and what you want to do and what you want to achieve in life,” because there are people out there that are going to align with you, and they’re able to help you and take you to those steps and those journeys on your chapters of the success that you’re building.
MM: We really just buckled down, really mapped out what things need to look like. I have to mention that for Wayman + Micah, strategy is the benchmark of everything we do. Our two biggest components are communication and strategy, and I think that has just really gotten us where we are. Heavily, those two things. From the jump, we strategize: How are we going to make this happen? This man and his team have no idea who we are. Let’s create, let’s dig, let’s research some really direct degrees of separation. Like Wayman said, if you have a dream, if you have a vision in mind, communicate that. Mention it—don’t hold it close to the chest because you’ll find purpose and partners along the way on similar paths, and you all can connect and go forward. That’s exactly what happened for us.
Forest Whitaker at The Butler premiere wearing Prada
You guys have had so many amazing moments with [Tessa Thompson] over the years. What are some of your favorite looks?
WB: One of my favorites is Selma premiere 2015. She wore the Rodarte spring collection finale dress. It’s so special because that dress really just kind of set the Tessa Thompson style in motion for us. It was just so beautiful. It was so detailed. Kate and Laura [Mulleavy] are just so special in their designs and what they create. And Tessa just really owned the essence of what that dress was. It was just so beautiful to me.
MM: I am going to have to say the Chanel Couture 2019 Oscars. We all went to Paris together to see the couture show, which at that time, we did not know was Karl’s last couture show. The dress that she wore, we remember sitting right behind her, and as soon as that dress walked, Tessa did her “very good” over-the-shoulder nod. We didn’t know that was an Oscars dress at the time, so for that to happen, that was so special. She just looked timeless but still cool like she does, but the regal nature of it all was really special for us.
Tessa Thompson at the Selma premiere wearing Rodarte
One of the things I also really love about your process is that you definitely bring emerging brands to the table. That has to be such a rewarding process because you have the power to introduce an independent designer to the world in some cases. So I’m curious about the discovery process: What do you look for in an emerging brand or designer?
MM: We’re big on aesthetics and telling a story per client. One of the biggest compliments we always receive is that all of [our] clients look themselves and they all look vastly different. We always love that the Wayman + Micah through-line is the level of excellence and like things like super tailoring, great accessory choices, but we really focus on aligning aesthetics. It’s so funny, you should see our DMs, my God… It’s like, “Hi, you don’t know us, but we want your whole collection. Here’s the FedEx number. Send it over.” It is so gratifying to really receive feedback from these designers. We’ve had designers say that [we’ve] changed the trajectory of [their] career. And that’s a blessing. One of my favorite quotes is, “When you get to a certain point, make sure you send the elevator back down.” We use our platform to really celebrate those designers and are blessed to have the opportunity to do so. Because if we don’t, then why are we here? We love their eagerness as well.
WB: We love when they’re eager to achieve and they’re eager to get their designs on clients and dressings and editorials. It’s all about them making an effort as well. Once we see that effort and that effort is being utilized for growth, we’re all about making sure the growth happens.
Kelly Marie Tran at the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker London premiere wearing Phuong My
These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity. Next up, check out our previous episode featuring music stars VanJess and brow guru Kristie Streicher.