Mariel Haenn and Rob Zangardi on dressing No Doubt, Rihanna, J. Lo, and more

By Bronwyn Barnes
October 19, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT

They devised a special machine that could rip off J. Lo’s clothes, and turned Rihanna into a human instrument using only a few strategically placed guitar strings and a pair of leather leggings. Now design duo Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn are cranking up the sartorial volume for one of their newest clients, No Doubt. ”With the launch of their new album, it was perfect timing,” says Zangardi, who, along with Haenn, is creating looks for the Gwen Stefani-fronted group to wear while promoting Push and Shove on the red carpet, on tour, and in their latest videos. (They even styled No Doubt’s commercial for retail giant Target.) ”From our first conversation with the band, we all agreed to maintain their already established style, but give it a more modern, sophisticated look.”

Known as the most in-demand stylists in the music industry, Zangardi and Haenn first met in the wardrobe department at MTV, where they dressed the likes of Carson Daly, Molly Sims, and Ashlee Simpson. In 2007, they teamed up to style the on-the-rise Rihanna for her ”Umbrella” video, a move that earned them a steady gig as the singer’s stylists and cemented their fashion partnership.

Their collaboration with Rihanna lasted through at least a dozen music videos, one tour, a Doritos commercial, and a print ad for Cover Girl — and helped the pop star build a reputation as a style innovator. In addition to creating performance costumes and styling celebrity fashion editorials, the twosome dress stars like Rachel McAdams, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith (as well as their kids, Willow and Jaden), and Lily Collins for red-carpet appearances. ”We hate to pass on any jobs,” Haenn says. ”Even though there are two of us with a strong team, the determining factor is what our schedule allows.” (In just the past two weeks, they’ve styled a No Doubt video shoot for ”Looking Hot” and jetted to Barcelona for fittings for pregnant client Shakira.)

Their trickiest gig to date? Jennifer Lopez’s performance at the 2011 American Music Awards. ”She changed three times in five minutes, and it all happened on stage,” remembers Zangardi, who brainstormed with Haenn to come up with tear-away costumes that were stripped off one by one with the help of the aforementioned wardrobe-removal machine. ”We love a good challenge.”

No Doubt

”We thought it would be a great idea to blow up the design of the Push and Shove album artwork [created by street artist El Mac] and use it to print fabric,” Zangardi says of the patterned panels seen at left. For No Doubt’s performance at the 2012 Teen Choice Awards, the team wove the cloth into a wonderfully wild pair of bondage pants for Stefani. ”They’ve always been a staple of Gwen’s performance looks.”


”We had a technician fly in from London to help facilitate this,” Zangardi says of the bandage jumpsuit — with laser-beam-emitting shoulder pads — he and Haenn designed for Rihanna’s 2009 AMAs performance. A lining of illusion netting minimized the risk of a wardrobe malfunction, and the L.A. fire marshal was on hand to make sure that RiRi wasn’t a walking fire hazard.

Jennifer Lopez

”Everyone knows Jennifer loves a good sparkle on stage,” Haenn says of the custom-made crystal and hand-beaded one-piece the duo (and their team of seamstresses) designed for their longtime client to wear at the 2011 AMAs. ”She has an amazing body, and what better way to showcase it than with a bodysuit?”

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Rachel Roy
Founder/designer Rachel Roy
My Design Inspiration

”I listen to a ton of music in the workroom. I’m someone who needs ‘environment.’ I work to candles, incense, and music. I always love Jay-Z — his album [Watch the Throne] was everything!”