In recent years, a certain upper echelon of celebrity wardrobe stylists have become famous in their own right. Perhaps not to the masses, but to those who pay attention to red-carpet fashion and couture catwalks, much in the same way that aesthetes might keep their eyes peeled for news out of Milan Design Week. One such stylist is Jason Bolden, who was named one of The Hollywood Reporter's 25 most powerful stylists of 2019 earlier this year, and who dresses the likes of Taraji P. Henson, Ava DuVernay, Mindy Kaling, Yara Shahidi, Wiz Khalifa, Storm Reid, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, activist Janet Mock, and more.
Bolden's company is the subject of a new Netflix reality series called Styling Hollywood, set to premiere on August 30. The show reveals that JSN Studio—that's Jason, without the vowels—is far from a one-man operation, and far from just a fashion-styling venture to boot. Bolden actually cofounded the operation with his husband, Adair Curtis, a former celebrity assistant and employee of Russell Simmons who went back to school at UCLA to study interior architecture and now heads up the interior design branch of JSN.
It's clear on the show that Bolden and Curtis are very much enmeshed in the Hollywood lifestyle—they call many of their famous clients cherished friends. These bonds have allowed them to grow their business, and viewers will see the JSN team taking their frequent design client Gabrielle Union furniture shopping, redecorating a rental property for Sanaa Lathan, and overseeing a top-to-bottom renovation for Dulé Hill and his wife, actress Jazmyn Simon. All of the aforementioned stars appear on the show, as do many of the fashion clients. (Going behind the scenes as Bolden prepares Henson for the 2018 Emmys is a particular treat—the Oscar nominee had no idea she'd be wearing an embroidered Giambattista Valli dress until the day of, yet was cool as a cucumber while getting red-carpet ready.)
Below, the pair tells Architectural Digest more about their A-list client list and their reality TV debut.
Architectural Digest: JSN Studio is one company, but you do both wardrobe styling and interior design. How does that work?
Adair Curtis: There are two separate branches of the company, but they feed off of each other. Jason is the creative director across both, and then I work more on the side of design and staging. I do handle a lot in terms of the business end of Jason’s styling work—[including communications with] all the agents and managers and handlers [of his clients]. So, the two things are pretty separate, but they do feed off of each other.
AD: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Jason Bolden: I think relaxed luxury. Do you agree, Adair?
AC: Yes, and I think we gravitate to spaces that are a bit more organic.
AD: When you're working with celebrity clients on a home design project, how involved in the process are they? Are you showing them things along the way?
AC: It is client-specific. For example, with Dwayne [Wade] and Gabrielle [Union], they don’t typically like to see a lot during the process. They are both really busy with really intense careers, and they're being pulled in so many different directions. They also innately trust us because we’ve been through maybe eight to ten projects now with them. We asked them to trust us and gained their trust. So, while we may have a little bit of a back and forth on a project, ultimately, we land in a space where they are comfortable, but they’ve maybe gone a little bit outside the line and pushed their boundaries. And where we’re happy with the work that we’ve done.
This season you do see me take Gabrielle shopping in the first episode. We go to a store here in Los Angeles that we shop at a lot. She’s not really one to come shopping with us, so I think that in and of itself made for a bit of entertainment!
AD: Is it hard to work with your husband every day?
AC: I love working with Jason and I couldn’t imagine not working with him. It just makes things so much easier because we understand each other on a deeper level. He knows my frustration with the design part of the business, and I know his frustration on the styling side of the business. It just makes for a deeper understanding of each other. Some of the challenges become where we have so much work going on and so many projects going on at one time that it is hard to find time where we are talking about something that has nothing to do with work.
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AD: But there is a moment in the Sanaa Lathan episode where there's a little friction between the two of you over a statue. It seems like you are not shy about giving each other input.
JB: Oh, yeah, I don’t have a problem saying something about the things I enjoy and the things I don’t enjoy. I can say there’s always one or two things in a finished product that I am probably rolling my eyes at, or he’s probably removing it from a shelf—that’s just our interior banter, if you will. Even when it comes to our own house, there’s sconces that Adair is into that I’m kind of like, I don’t think I want any light fixture in this room. It is completely a full-blown marriage even when it comes to design. I’m like, well, Is this argument worth it? No, I’ll wait and have an argument about art. You can have the sconces.
AC: Choosing battles.
AD: Do you have a favourite design project that viewers will see on the show?
AC: You get to see transformation for the actor Dulé Hill and his wife, Jazmyn. The house itself was one that they bought knowing that they would need to renovate. We went in and came up with ideas for them and then you see us go through the job from start to finish, and you see all the things that typically happen with a job, like that there are unexpected problems when you open up the walls. I think that was the biggest transformation. And I would say because it is the biggest project, it was our favourite that made the show, for sure.