Q&A with Phillip Bloch

Phillip Bloch is best known for styling actresses like Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Jessica Alba and Salma Hayek. But this Spanish, French and Russion fashion guru is also a front-of-the-camera talent in his own right. He's appeared in quirky independent flicks like Dirty Laundry and Delirious and mainstream TV outlets like ABC, Entertainment Tonight, and VH-1 frequently recruit Bloch to decode the mysteries of fashion for the masses.

Latina.com chatted with Bloch about his latest gig as a guest designer for Hush Puppies, which is now celebrating its 50th anniversary, and a whole lot more!

Where are you right this minute and what are you wearing?

Oh my God, you would die. I’m actually in my bedroom in New York. I’m wearing a pair of Hugo Boss tuxedo pants, because I’m going to a black tie charity event tonight called New Yorkers For Children. My pants are pinned because I’m getting them hemmed. I’m wearing Hush Puppies with no socks. And I’m in a tank top. I haven’t had a minute to take them off so I can get them hemmed.

You've styled a lot of gorgeous Latina celebrities. Who was your favorite to work with and why?

Doesn’t Julio Iglesias have that song where he says, “All the ladies I’ve known, I’ve loved?” It’s so hard to pick a favorite. I love Jessica Alba. I remember working with her on one of her very first movies she ever did, Never Been Kissed. I love her for her sweetness. Her publicist introduced us. She came to the house. I did a fitting with her. And then the next day, she brought back cookies that she baked to thank me. But she didn’t ring the doorbell. She just left them by the door because she saw a limousine in front of my house and she thought I had a movie star over and she didn’t want to disturb me. Isn’t that just adorable? '

Jennifer Lopez and I have a history. I did the premiere of Selena, U Turn, The Wedding Planner, the first time she went to the Oscars, and all of her early stuff in Hollywood. There’s a great picture of us on WireImage; it’s her first fashion show in New York, and I’m whispering something into her ear. You can see in our body language that we have a great relationship. We are laughing and holding each other. It’s not like a weird, stiff celebrity picture, like here I am with Oprah. You can just see the chemistry. Last year, she introduced me to Marc Anthony at the Oscars. Whenever I see her, I feel like a part of her family.

Salma and I were best friends. She used to live down the street from me. And we were at each other’s houses everyday. Now I live in New York more, and she’s wherever she is, so I don't see her as much. To the readers it might seem weird, but her life has gone one direction and my life has gone another. One of my favorite memories of Salma is the tiara moment.

What’s the tiara moment?

You know when she went to the Oscars wearing the tiara. I consider that one of the biggest moments in my career. That picture still runs to this day. It’s an iconic image. Back in the day, at the beginning of my career, there were images that people remembered. But now what’s iconic? Eh, it’s a diarrhea of fashion almost.

You’re half French and half Spanish. In fact, your grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from Toledo during World War I. What role does your Spanish heritage in the formation of your style?

Yes, my grandparents were from Spain. And once my father and I went to visit Toledo in 1984. The art and the images of Spain have always stayed with me, like bullfights and these three-dimensional cards decorated with flamenco dancers. They’re wearing red ruffled dresss with a lace mantilla and their hands are up in the air with the castanets. And the fabric on the card is actually real fabric. Stuff like that stays in my mind.

Why did you decide to design for Hush Puppies?

I’ve been wearing them for years, as have a lot of my clients, like Charlie Sheen, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jim Carey. I’m a big fan of shoes you can wear to the Oscars or to a bodega in Spanish Harlem. I love versatility in clothes, especially because I travel a lot.

Some of us would like to see our men upgrade from sneakers to more grown-up shoes. What can we say to our husbands and boyfriends to make the leap?

There are so many sneakers now from Prada, Dsquared, and Hogan that almost look like shoes. If you can’t get your guy to upgrade from sneakers, then get him to get a dressier pair of sneakers that he doesn’t use for playing basketball, football or golf. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sneakers and comfort.

Which is your favorite pair of Hush Puppies and why?

I love the boot. I don’t know if they’re selling it in America. I also love the loafer, because it’s kind of Cubano gangster to wear it with shorts and no socks. It’s kind of sexy. It’s very Miami. You know when you wear a white pant with loafers and no socks. I wear that look a lot, too. I love the tie-up wingtips. The important thing with those is the mixture of the textures and materials—the leather and the suede. You could wear these with a tux or with jeans. They can dress up or dress down. They can go everywhere.

Serena Kim