Claudia Winkleman’s hair and makeup signatures are well known. Kohl-lined eyes, peeping out from under a blunt-cut, raven-hued fringe, withfake tan just on the right side of orange (she often jokes about her love of a sun-kissed glow, once confessing she had resorted to Bisto gravy granules in a panic). Yet in the past year, it is her wardrobe, not her beauty look, that has caught the attention of the fashion cognoscenti and public alike.
Every Saturday and Sunday night, viewers are tuning in to Strictly Come Dancing not just to see Angela Rippon’s Argentine tango or Nigel Harman’s cha-cha-cha, but to find out what the 51-year-old television presenter is wearing. One week it’s an ivory jacquard mini-dress with puff sleeves by mid-range brand Sister Jane. Another it’s a black crystal jumpsuitby red carpet designer Nadine Merabi.
'Will there ever be a week when I’m not crying that I don’t have Claudia’s wardrobe? Probably not' wrote one fan on Instagram. 'Such a style icon', says another.
Who is Claudia Winkleman's stylist?
The woman responsible for Claudia’s transformation into a bonafide style icon is Sinead McKeefry, a Central Saint Martins graduate and The Face alum, who expertly combines high street and designer to create her signature look. The two have been working together since 2005, after being introduced by mutual friend (and fellow client) Fearne Cotton.
'We have a really good laugh. It just doesn’t feel like work,' says Sinead of her relationship with Claudia. 'We always joke about how we hate the summer and love the winter. Wearing black, having a uniform. That’s her whole thing.'
Indeed, what unites all of her Strictly looks is their colour palette, which is black and white (one exception to the rule is a pale pink sequinned suit from ROTATE, worn in Week 2), with lots of jumpsuits, pyjamas and suiting – plus sparkles galore (this is Strictly, after all). In contrast to her co-host, Tess Daly, Claudia’s aesthetic is very much glam goth, and provides a great point of difference from Tess’s more classic style.
During her Behind The Fringe tour last year, Claudia let slip that she always has someone on her mood board that inspires her looks – and that for Strictly 2022 it was Elvis Presley (others have included Pam St Clement, Anita Dobson and Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy). This year’s muse is just as random, as Sinead confesses it is actually, 'a snooker player, with a twist,' after somebody on X (formerly Twitter) trolled Claudia by saying she was dressed like one.
'We were howling. It was just so funny,' she says. 'We always collaborate on everything and come up with ideas that are very tongue-in-cheek.' More serious pin-ups are fellow goth queens, Amanda Harlech and Daphne Guinness, while Sinead sees Chanel as the ultimate designer fit.
Much like with Holly Willoughby on This Morning, high street brands are enjoying the ‘Claudia effect’, with pieces that she has worn selling out instantly.
Case in point is the cream blouse featuring a rhinestone maxi flower from Mango’s limited edition Capsule collection, now only available in a size 6 after Claudia paired it with an & Other Stories ruffled tweed mini-skirt(just a few left) for Week 3’s Results Show. Then there’s the asymmetrical draped black mini-dress dress from Zara, worn for last weekend’s Results, which sold-out and is now back in stock again.
Of particular genius – for fashion pundits – was Halloween’s black velvet tulle gown by The Vampire’s Wife, a clever sartorial nod to the occasion (celebrity fans included Davina McCall 'it’s a knockout!', Jo Whiley 'this dress!' and Emma Willis 'I want that dress!'). Featuring a high neckline, nipped in waist and cap sleeves, it epitomises the brand’s famously sexy yet demure silhouette, and was instantly recognisable to those in the know. Created by Susie Cave, the uber-glam wife of the Bad Seeds frontman, The Vampire’s Wife is a short-cut to cool-girl status, and is worn by the likes of Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and the Princess of Wales.
'That was the perfect dress,' says Sinead. 'What’s so great about it is that it just translates – your fashion insider will like it, but it’s also a really traditional dress, that Susie has just sprinkled her magic on. It’s not really out there or hard for people to understand.'
And for those who want a little daytime-wear inspiration, Claudia’s hit game show, The Traitors, is returning to BBC One imminently, after its sophomore series was teased during last weekend’s Strictly. A cult phenomenon when it first aired in autumn 2022, it became just as memed for its host’s high-neck jumpers and Scandi-noir aesthetic as it did its famous catchphrases ('I’m 100% faithful'), spawning a million odes to Claudia’s ‘sweater-drobe’.
Sinead’s theory on why Claudia’s look is so popular now? Its accessibility. 'We use brands that people can go and buy now and wear in lots of different ways. I think high street clothes are really great.' Her top tips? Zara basics and get everything tailored: 'A little nip and tuck, it honestly completely changes the silhouette.'