Oscars 2016: Meet the People Who Are Getting the Stars Red Carpet Ready

Brie Larson's stylist, Luciana Damon's makeup artist and a hairstylist tell all.

ByABC News
February 28, 2016, 1:08 AM

— -- When the stars descend upon the red carpet tonight, their looks will be dissected by fashion bloggers, TV hosts and viewers at home alike.

But what the critics might not know is how much work goes into getting a celebrity ready for an event like the Oscars.

Stylists, hairstylists, and makeup artists can spend weeks on end working with a star to ensure red carpet perfection at every event during awards season. The Oscars, then, represent a grand finale months in the making.

Kent Belden, CEO of the bicoastal Only Agency, told ABC News that several years ago, "it was more of a clandestine industry with people just 'looking good.' Let us not forget the time Sharon Stone opted to grab a charcoal colored Gap turtle neck to the Academy Awards. Nobody cared about the behind the scenes!"

But, Belden says, "As the number of events increases, it is definitely more competitive as to what client is going to use what hair and makeup artist, what fashion house is going to work with what stylist to dress a celebrity. It can be very intense and also very rewarding."

ABC News spoke with three Only Agency artists -- stylist Cristina Ehrlich, hair and makeup artist Torsten Witte, and hairstylist Scotty Cunha -- to learn more about what their jobs entail. Tonight Ehrlich will dress Brie Larson, Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling; Witte will prep Matt Damon and his wife Luciana, as well as Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan and Ryan Gosling; and Cunha will style Ashley Tisdale's hair for Elton John's 24th annual Academy Awards viewing party.

Cristina Ehrlich, stylist

"The expression 'Rome wasn't built in a day.' That's how this whole thing happened," said Ehrlich, when asked about the genesis of her business. A stylist with nearly 20 years of experience, 17 of which have been focused on the red carpet, Ehrlich attributes her big break to meeting Mandy Moore at a Blender magazine shoot 14 years ago. Soon after, she found herself collaborating with the likes of Jessica Biel, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Penélope Cruz.

"At the Golden Globes, it's not unusual for me to [style] as many as seven ladies, but the Oscars is lighter," Ehrlich said. "I'm able to handle that amount of work because I have an amazing, amazing team, but I will see all of them [personally]. I will go to each one of them."

However, this year, it's Larson, who is predicted to take home the Best Actress Oscar for "Room," who has been her main focus. Ehrlich began working with the Oscar nominee last year before the Met Ball in May, where the two struck up a friendly relationship. When "Room" began to tour festivals later in the summer and into the fall, Ehrlich became her stylist. She has been planning Larson's Oscars look -- along with the actress's makeup artist Mara Roszak and hairstylist Rachel Goodwin -- since December.

"The minute we discover a dress, we share it with the team. We do a mood board for hair and makeup and we collaborate," she explained of the process. "It's just been such a girl-power group. Everybody has been so supportive what each person is doing."

Larson, she noted, has opinions, but mostly lets her team do their jobs.

"She knows we're professionals so once we kind of explain it to her, she's like, 'Cool, let's do this,'" said Ehrlich. "She doesn't need to be sold on it."

On Sunday, Ehrlich said Larson will likely start her day at 8:30 a.m. or so, though she plans to give her a few hours to unwind before she shows up. The "Room" actress has been shooting "a very intense movie," she noted, and she's been trying to give her time and space so that she doesn't get overwhelmed.

"I don’t need to be on top of her," Ehrlich said. "This way she can focus. She can get into her zone."

So what will Larson be wearing? Ehrlich's lips are sealed.

Still, she promised, "You'll be very satisfied!"

Torsten Witte, hairstylist and makeup artist

Oscars Sunday is shaping up to be a very busy day for the hairstylist and makeup artist. Witte will kick off the morning by driving to Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan's place and after that, he'll style Ryan Gosling and Matt and Luciana Damon at their homes. Each visit will take about an hour-and-a-half to two hours, he predicted, though the day could go longer than expected, too.

Damon, who is nominated for Best Actor, has the option to bring Witte along to the show for touch-ups. "It's really up to him," Witte said. "I'll have something [to wear] in my car in case."

Witte, who hails from Germany and has worked in Paris and New York City, landed his first Hollywood film in 2004, when he was hired as the makeup department lead for "Little Miss Sunshine." Three or four years later, he met Jodie Foster through Christian Bale, and she introduced him to Damon, with whom he has collaborated ever since. He also works with Emma Stone, Lionel Richie and actress Sabrina Carpenter.

"I think you find the people that fit your lifestyle and fit the way you are. The thread with my clientele is they're not intro drama and they're true professionals," Witte said. "They all try to live a regular life...They're really amazing personalities."

Still, even the most low-key celebrity can be fickle. Witte said that celebrities often change their minds about what to wear to an event at the last minute, so he's learned to be flexible when it comes to creating a look.

"If at the last minute the lip color doesn't go, I'm just wiping it up in thirty seconds and putting something else in thirty seconds. I usually do a very, very effortless hair, so if the hair is down and it needs to be up, we can swing it up," he explained. "For me, it's really, really easy."

The same description applies to working with the Damons, with whom Witte has traveled to festivals and "Martian" press events over the past few months. He's also collaborated closely with their stylist, Annie Jagger, to discuss how the couple should look on each red carpet.

"The House of Versace is styling Matt and Lucy this season for the 'Martian' press and Lucy looks absolutely stunning. It's a really good fit this year," he said. "Matt is shooting a new 'Bourne' movie so he's in the best shape he's ever been in."

Though he stayed mum about what the couple will wear to the Oscars, Witte said that the awards show is not the time to experiment with a dramatic look or try a new trend. The Academy Awards, he said, are about looking and feeling one's best.

And while he's excited to get his Sundays back once awards season ends, Witte has a busy year ahead of him. In April, he'll work with Stone on a new film, "Battle of the Sexes," before he sets off to travel with Gosling and Foster for their respective press tours. Then he'll start another press tour with Damon later this year.

"I'm so happy. Every day I can do print, I can do photo shoots, I can do film, I can do promotional tours and red carpets," he said. "It's really a beautiful, well-rounded thing thing that I do on a daily basis."

Scotty Cunha, hairstylist

Cunha's Oscar Sunday is going to be low-key -- at least until he hits the late-night bashes -- and that's just the way he wants it. He only likes to work with one client per red carpet, and for the Oscars, he's chosen to work with a friend, Ashley Tisdale, who's attending Elton John's after-party. Around 5:30 p.m. or so, he said he'll head to her house, and while he's doing her hair, they'll gossip and catch-up.

"We have been working together for a really long time so I know what her vibe is: very chill, undone, but still pretty and polished," he noted. "We’ll do something toward that but you never know. She could change the dress last minute. We could do something super severe. You never know."

His ability to roll with things makes Cunha a good fit for the business. From an early age, he knew that he wanted to be a hairstylist and at 19, he moved to Los Angeles, where he landed on the Bravo reality TV show, "Blow Out." After that, he began working for Andy Lecompte's salon in Beverly Hills, and Lecompte began referring celebrity clients to him.

A master of "sexy, undone, Brigitte Bardot hair," Cudha recently shot a book with Kristin Cavallari in Nashville and is often found on the set of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," styling the reality stars' hair. He also works with their stylists and makeup artists to create memorable red carpet looks for his clients, like Kourtney Kardashian's look at last year's MTV Video Music Awards.

"It got picked up by every magazine. I did 100 interviews about it," he said. "That's the fun part -- when you're with your friends and you're talking about what to do and it turns out to be [a talked-about] look."

But in spite of his jet-set lifestyle, he also makes sure to meet with his non-famous clients too. About once a month, he cuts hair in LeCompte's salon.

"I try to pack every person in that one day because my schedule is crazy so I'm canceling and moving around," he said. "I'll do 10-12 people in a day. It can be brutal but it's good to see my clients and keep in touch with them. The salon is a comfort zone to me."