A Secret Source for A-List Stylists Gets a New L.A. Home

There are bulging closets all over Hollywood, but Irene Albright’s are bigger. Thirty-four years ago, the OG stylist and fashion archivist founded her Albright Fashion Library in New York, now with 20,000 pieces of true fashion finds for rent. “When I first had the New York showroom, most of the menswear in American Psycho came from it — I had all this Armani!” says Albright, who began building her collection early in her career, buying leftover pieces from photo shoots.

After opening a small Beverly Hills showroom a decade ago, she’s moved Albright Fasion Library LA into luxe new digs in L.A.’s Trousdale Estates. The house functions as a mega-closet, featuring 7,000 rental-ready pieces of designer eveningwear, couture gowns, jewels, shoes (25 racks of them) and evening bags — both new and archival — plus a full photo studio for celebrity shoots and commercials.

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Sydney Sweeney attends the 2022 HBO Emmy's Party at San Vicente Bungalows on September 12, 2022 in West Hollywood, California.
Sydney Sweeney attends the 2022 HBO Emmy’s Party at San Vicente Bungalows on Sept. 12, 2022 in West Hollywood, California.

“We get stylists and costumers here,” she says. “But lately celebs come in directly. We’re our own stylists: We dress you head to toe for anything, in almost any designer. Your shoot can be done here.” Clothes from her collection have been worn by everyone from Beyoncé and Lady Gaga to Selena Gomez and Anne Hathaway. For the HBO Emmy afterparty in 2022, Sydney Sweeney wore a green Versace dress with cutouts from Albright, while Lindsay Lohan stunned in a floor-length vintage Galliano from the library this spring at the Irish Wish premiere in New York.

Albright Fashion Library’s Instagram and website preview the goodies, but visiting the appointment-only Trousdale spot is a fashion fantasy of Kardashian-meets-Imelda Marcos proportions.

Why the need for such largesse in one of L.A.’s priciest neighborhoods (where neighbors include Jeffrey Katzenberg, Leonardo DiCaprio and Elton John)?

“It’s what people who come to be styled expect,” says Albright, who began her styling career in the fashion heyday of the 1980s. While 90 percent of the house is a showroom, there’s also a large kitchen, an outdoor pool with an epic view and table, plus a chic modern living room and dining room she’ll use for meetings and business. The house — with its entrance, pool, views, architecture — seems like it’s straight out of a Julius Shulman architecture photo of the 1960s. The only thing missing is women with teased and sprayed bubble cuts.

Albright Fashion Library LA
Albright Fashion Library LA

“In New York, we cater mostly to the advertising world: fashion for commercials and print ads. We get stylists and costumer designers here in L.A.,” explains Albright. “But the weird part now is, a lot of celebs are coming in directly. I think that’s because many stylists are getting paid to dress them in certain designers. Some complained that it’s not in their best interest; you can see that that might happen. But there’s still a great need to have new looks all the time. If you want brand-new things, I’m right there with the appointment, just like a multi-brand store.”

Lindsay Lohan attends the Irish Wish New York Premiere at Paris Theater on March 05, 2024 in New York City.
Lindsay Lohan attends the Irish Wish New York premiere at Paris Theater on March 5, 2024 in New York City.

Albright and her daughter do all the buying from luxury brands — mostly in Paris, right after runway shows. Clients find both the newest looks and lots of special archival pieces, which are red carpet trending right now. Having opened the New York archive in 1990, there is an incredible back stock. Some of the earliest pieces are ones that Albright asked to buy after fashion photo shoots during her first days as a stylist.

There’s also a real art collection mounted on walls throughout the L.A. house: Albright studied art and also for years pursued a career as a gallerist. “I opened the Mina Gallery in New York in 2009, we kept it going till 2015, right next to our showroom on Cooper Square,” she says. “We repped portraiture artists Monica Serra and Sam Bassett. I’ve always loved art — particularly portraiture — as much as fashion.”  Among her favorites on the Trousdale walls: works by L.A. artist Liz Markus: “What she did was study pictures of Truman Capote’s swans, major society women of the time, each one of them a great painting of them, really wonderful.”

Albright often spends six months a year in L.A. (she usually summers in Southampton), but that doesn’t mean she’s grown confident driving. For a recent dinner, she drove to the Chateau Marmont skittishly, wishing she hadn’t. “I feel like I can drive in Southampton, that’s easy. Here, I only take back roads. I won’t go down Sunset. I literally drive to our house by avoiding Sunset. I much prefer Uber or my partner driving.”

Albright Fashion Library LA
Albright Fashion Library LA

The Trousdale archive may look like it took a year to plan — but no. “Our landlord of the archive’s former home announced she was selling it April 1,” Albright says, laughing. “I found this house that day, the first one I looked at. We moved this past weekend! All of it! Friday evening and Monday morning, we were already swamped with appointments. We’re up on a mountain with a great view. Many of the stylists bring their celebrities. And guess what?” she laughs. “There are so many hard-to-please celebrities. I don’t blame them. On the red carpet, they need to feel great. Now they get so much social media attention — good and bad — they need to feel as secure as possible.”

Even in L.A., years of New York adrenaline still fuel her: Albright doesn’t slow down anywhere. She talks as fast as she moves: at the speed of N.Y.C. sound. “I can’t stop!” she confesses. “I don’t know how to stop. Meanwhile, I have all these clothes and barely go out! I’m always working. I rarely go to black tie parties. But if I had to, well…I can certainly dress the part!”

A version of this story first appeared in the June 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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