For over 10 years, Rhonda Spies has worked with celebrities and notable figures as a stylist, preparing and equipping them with the perfect look for every occasion, event, and red carpet appearance. Rhonda has worked with Carrie Ann Inaba for the past 3 years and is responsible for making sure that every piece Carrie Ann wears reflects her personality and makes her truly shine. We had the chance to catch up with Rhonda and learn more about the work she does every day with Carrie Ann.
CAC: How did you get into styling as a career? What drew you to it and what are your favorite things about it?
Rhonda: I have loved fashion for as long as I can remember. I love the way it tells a story and reflects a person’s individuality and I love how it can instantly boost a person’s confidence simply by transforming how they feel when they’re comfortable in their own skin. I also love to see beautiful clothing come to life.
CAC: Can you give a quick definition for what a celebrity stylist does? Can you walk us through your average week working with Carrie Ann?
Rhonda: A celebrity stylist collaborates with their talent to dress them for various events. A lot of times you’re working with someone who’s building a career and the way that you’re dressing them is going to impact that career.
An average week with Carrie Ann on The Talk begins with selecting looks for the upcoming week. Often there will be various details about each show that we have to take into account: What color the background will be, whether Carrie Ann is sitting, standing or moving, who the guests are, etc. With those details in mind, together we work to set the looks. On show days I’m there to bring the looks to life by helping her get dressed, foreseeing any problems that may arise and adjusting accordingly, accessorizing and making sure she is comfortable before the show goes live.
CAC: How long have you been working with Carrie Ann? Has your process for styling her or her style itself evolved over your time together, and if so how?
Rhonda: I have been working with Carrie Ann since 2017. My process is constantly evolving as Carrie Ann’s career evolves and changes. I pay attention to current trends and classic styles. I bring her pieces that will complement her while keeping her looking fresh and new at the same time.
CAC: What parts of Carrie Ann’s personality, style, identity or look do you take into account when styling her?
Rhonda: When you’re dressing someone, you have to take all of the components of their personality into consideration while at the same time executing your vision and taking into account the feel of each specific event or appearance you’re dressing them for. As each year passes I get to know Carrie Ann better and better and as a stylist I like to gently nudge her out of her comfort zone. I think if you look back over the years we’ve worked together you can see how her style has changed and grown. I always tease her that I have to nourish her inner fly girl so I try to add a certain flair that speaks to her aesthetic. At the same time staying aware of the little nuances of Carrie Ann’s taste helps push me out of my comfort level as well. She is very intuitive so I feel like we have a mutual level of trust that allows us to take fun fashion risks.
CAC: When you need to style Carrie Ann for a theme episode of Dancing With The Stars or The Talk, what’s your process for deciding on a concept and then making it a reality?
Rhonda: With The Talk, I start with the creative notes and direction from the executive producers. From there I research looks, swatch fabrics and collaborate with my wardrobe department for a cohesive direction. Then a costume will come to life. Most recently for Halloween 2020 we created magic for Carrie Ann as Willy Wonka.
CAC: What’s been your favorite theme episode look to design for Carrie Ann?
Rhonda: For Dancing With The Stars , I love the theme weeks when we get to experiment and build a costume from the ground up. This past season my favorite week was “Villains Week” when Carrie Ann was a glamorous version of Pennywise from IT.
CAC: Could you walk us through picking the inspiration, deciding on and finding the specific pieces, and putting it all together?
Rhonda: I started by researching past images of Pennywise from the movie and what existing costumes available on the market looked like. From there I took a few of my favorite images to the brilliant costume maker Maggie Barry and together we sketched our vision. Then we sourced fabric and started to put together the look. I ordered the accoutrements such as the neck ruffle, the red pom poms and striped tights. The next step was the first fitting which is where I can really see what is working and what tweaks need to be made. Then it’s back to the costume maker for the final touches. The process is a lot of work, but so much fun and was so rewarding to see her in our creation on show day.
CAC: Is there anything you particularly love about working with Carrie Ann or about working on Dancing With The Stars?
Rhonda: I love Carrie Ann’s willingness to experiment and try new things. She is the most fun to dress up and truly loves to collaborate. We have become very close and I’m so grateful that she’s always up for trying new things and experimenting with new looks. It’s always rewarding to watch her own look after look. Dancing With The Stars is the absolute best because she gets to wear a beautiful gown every week and I enjoy the process of finding new designers to bring to her and redefining her style every season. It’s truly hard for me to pick a favorite. One look from this past season that was memorable was her gown from Disney week. It was very feminine and ethereal. Paired with dreamy make up and a blush colored wig the look really came together.
Carrie Ann’s team is made up of Rhonda Spies (Stylist), Marylin Lee Spiegel ( Makeup) and Glenn Nutley ( Hair) for Dancing with the Stars and and Rhonda Spies (Stylist), Marylin Lee Spiegel ( Makeup) and Steve Berg (Hair) for The Talk. Watch for more articles from her incredibly talented team.