When then-ingenious Uma Thurman made her Oscar debut in 1995, dressed by Barbara Tfank in a lilac Prada dress with an ethereal chiffon wrap, it changed the culture. “You know when you eat a bad burrito and you get that rumble?” asks Phillip Bloch, catching himself ever so slightly as he makes the comparison. “I hate to compare this Prada dress to this one, but it was the gas that made it all happen. That moment sparked something. Thurman’s look is often described as the moment that truly sparked the story of fashion’s lucrative love of Hollywood, a mutually beneficial relationship that changed the red carpet game forever.
Few people know this better than Bloch, a former model who branched out into style magazine editorials in New York. But an encounter (or lack thereof) with a model caused him to change course. “I was working on a shoot and Naomi Campbell didn’t show up three times,” Bloch recalled. “I said, ‘Fuck, if I’m going to run like crazy, I’m going to do it for people I really admire. Not that I don’t admire Naomi, but I had just started modeling and I showed up on time. He moved to Los Angeles and landed his first styling job on River Phoenix’s last photo shoot before his death in 1993. Bloch’s career not only took off, it crescendoed when he styled 13 A-listers for the 69th Academy Awards in 1997.
This Oscars week, in tank tops and baggy shorts (“I was a home boy then,” he laughs), Bloch, now 61, ran back and forth for pick-ups and fittings in a Dodge Dakota convertible truck with couture dresses and high-end jewels in the back under a cover. “At that time, you didn’t need guards,” he said. “I was carrying millions of dollars worth of jewelry without security or clearance. Just like, ‘There you go.’ ”
Looking back on that time, Bloch says, “I’m very proud to be the Forrest Gump of fashion and to have helped usher in a different era in Hollywood. I didn’t do it for the money, I did it because I loved it and I loved [my clients].” Today he has a podcast, True crime, fashion and passion, with Carol Alt and Pat Cleveland and is preparing to launch two fashion brands. “It’s a question of inheritance; one thing always leads to another, and I must say that all of these looks still work today – except Will [Smith]it’s a fucking suit.