Hollywood stylist Cristina Ehrlich, who works with Laura Dern, Natasha Lyonne, Mandy Moore and Uzo Aduba, among others, and fashion veteran Cheyann Benedict are teaming up on a unisex “red-carpet T-shirt” collection called Plays Well With Others, featuring shoulder-pad muscle Ts, “wife-hugger” tanks, oversize crops and other high-fashion silhouettes designed to pair with designer looks.
New York-based Ehrlich had been searching for T-shirts polished enough for her clients to wear at events and award shows, and mentioned it to Benedict when the two reconnected at a dinner party last year. She picked the perfect person to bug about it; Benedict cofounded the colorful California C&C T-shirt line in the early Aughts, which sold to Liz Claiborne in 2005, but felt the laid-back vibe had dumbed down the style too much.
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“You walk around nowadays and everyone is wearing T-shirts, but it’s gotten really sloppy. That casual California look has taken over,” said Benedict, who is based in Los Angeles where she used to have her own namesake lifestyle brand. “There are so many reasons I’m loving partnering with Cristina — her eye is sophisticated, timeless and always chic.”
Ehrlich joins the growing ranks of celebrity stylists entering the fashion business with their own labels or collaborations, including Karla Welch with xKarla, Ilaria Urbinati with Strong Suit by Ilaria Urbinati and Jason Rembert with Aliette.
“The conversations we were having were about making the T-shirt you could wear with a ball skirt, and the one you’d wear with high-waisted jeans. It shouldn’t just be that simple Hanes shirt, there are nuances we can do that still make it wearable, but have a degree of elevated fashion sense,” said Ehrlich, adding, “There are different times when stylists are looking for different essentials to complete a look. We’ve gone through moments with blouses and work shirts, but T-shirts are making a big comeback worn under a suit or dress. It looks clean.”
The spring 2020 collection is sold out of the CD Network showroom in New York and Rainbow Wave in London. It features 14 styles in three fabric weights and 17 colors (evocative hues such as “togo party white,” “rainy days gray,” “abalone pink” and “Siberian tiger orange”). Prices are $110 to $155. There are classic boyfriend Ts, slim body crews, oversize “T-shirt versions of sweatshirts” and more, all designed to be gender nonspecific.
“The name, Plays Well With Others, fits the conversation we have been having about collaboration and equality,” said Ehrlich, adding that the duo plans to create charitable partnerships.
All fabrics are knit in mills in L.A. that use sustainable practices, added Benedict, stressing the care that goes into fabric and fit: “These aren’t shirts that will get a hole in them; they will last for decades.”