The position of Jennifer Lopez’s stylist is no ordinary fashion gig. In fact, it takes two people to do the job. Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn, know on Instagram simply as #RandM, have been traveling the world with Lopez since 2010. They are more like family than celebrity dressers. “We have grown with her,” asserts Zangardi, who maintains one never becomes immune to the JLo glow. “There really is no one like her. No one does what she does. Or how she does it. She pushes everyone around her to be a better version of themselves.”
Haenn “almost died” when the pair got the call over a decade ago. Lopez, it transpired, admired Rob and Mariel’s ability to fuse fashion, entertainment and music into a distinct brand of showbiz that gives their clients an edge for red carpet ceremonies and Las Vegas residencies, alike. Their first project together was Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ video and they went on to consult on Kanye West’s debut runway show. High-octane moments outfitting Heidi Klum, Cara Delevingne and Gwen Stefani – who incidentally was one of the powerhouse females who ignited Mariel’s desire to be a stylist – came in between. The other powerhouse female responsible for giving Haenn the fashion bug? JLo. Dreams really do come true in Hollywood.
Their first job for Lopez was for her 2011 ‘Good Hit’ video, an ’80s-tastic spectacle featuring fistfuls of chains, gold lamé and fishnets, and some impressive hair blow-drying choreography. “Being on set with her for the first time was incredible,” remembers Mariel of the moment, which coincided with Lopez’s return to the spotlight. “Jennifer had taken some time off to have her twins, so it was such an amazing opportunity to ‘come back’ in a big way,” explains Rob. “She had just recorded a new album and accepted the position to be a judge on American Idol.”
Rather than setting #RandM a specific brief, a collaboration was born, and references and ideas bounced back and forth. “The sky’s the limit,” asserts Haenn, with Zangardi chipping in: “This is why we love JLo; she’s an actress and a musician and a businesswoman – we really can have fun with such a variety of looks. One day we are pulling for a music video and the next week we could be pulling for the Oscars.”
The constant in this whirlwind process is the three words they landed upon to define Lopez’s style: Iconic. Sexy. Timeless. “At the end of the day, the best dress always wins,” notes Mariel, with Rob adding that Lopez is completely in tune with what works for her. “She completely trusts us, but also has a point of view and knows what works for her. It really is the perfect partnership!”
Choosing a favourite look is hard for the jubilant double act – who maintain they have zero regrets and enjoy every single part of the job – because, “It’s like asking which one of your kids you like better”. When pushed, they land on Jennifer’s princessy Gucci Met Gala 2010 look; the yellow Giambattista Valli gown she wore to the 2016 Golden Globes; her mirrored Tom Ford Oscars 2019 moment; and the orange Ralph Lauren crop top and ballgown skirt she wore to collect her CFDA Fashion Icon Award in 2019. “There are too many good ones,” they sigh.
Being the best of the best doesn’t seem to faze the dynamic pair behind Jenny from the Block’s recent Y2K renaissance and rom com-worthy Bennifer couple’s styling. You get the sense they work hard and play hard, remaining as infatuated with the industry as they were when they dreamt up Super Bowl looks as bright young things starting out. “When you know you know!” says Rob with a little twinkle in his eye. Bring on another decade of unabashedly fearless and unapologetically glossy JLo fashion.
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk