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What's in the Bag of Celebrity Stylist Kemal Harris?

A tailor-made packing list from Claire Underwood's stylist.

Kemal Harris

Growing up in Tofino, B.C., Kemal Harris didn’t have much exposure to the world of fashion, until, at the age of 11, she found an issue of Elle at the local library. Now, the New York-based stylist creates red-carpet looks for clients like Kate McKinnon, Alexis Bledel and Robin Wright, who brought her on as costume designer for the actress’ impeccably tailored role of Claire Underwood on House of Cards. We caught up with Harris at the Jeremy West Hollywood Hotel, in the aftermath of awards season.

Stuff, roll, fold or scrunch?
I fold, and I’m very colour coordinated – it’s all black, white and grey with a pop of red here or there. And I always have a swimsuit, packed in a zip-lock bag with the air pushed out, ready to go. You never know when there might be a pool.

Do you have a travel uniform?
Like with anything, it’s all about layers. I’m usually flying New York to L.A., leaving a cold environment and landing in a warm one. Uniqlo’s men’s cashmere turtlenecks are great layering pieces: roomy, long and thin enough to throw in my purse when I land in L.A. And they’re crazy affordable.

Where do you get inspiration for Claire’s wardrobe?
I’m definitely guilty of people-watching, especially in airport lounges. The people I’m around in fashion aren’t reflective of Claire’s kin – that government-corporate world – so I notice the jackets, the handbags, the shoes that women in these lounges are wearing.

With the character’s role becoming the lead, How will her look evolve?
Last season saw Claire dip in and out of the vice-president role and aggressively pursue that position. She’s just a shark. We brought in a lot of presidential blues, army greens and militaristic details like gold buttons, so I think we’ll continue with that energy. I’m just excited to see the scripts – anything can happen.

Give me comfort or give me death. I ordered these custom on the Vans’ website – the black and white goes with everything.

I love the 33 ⅓ books for learning how my favourite musicians made their best albums. I grew up in the grunge scene in the 1990s, and I saw Nirvana play the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver when they weren’t popular, so I have a sentimental attachment to that music.

I keep this Muji sketchbook – I love the bow closure – and mechanical pencil handy for sketching wardrobe ideas for Claire. I basically want to live inside a Muji store.

The Inhabit blanket can double as a scarf, and its case fits most airline pillows for an instant cashmere pillowcase.

The Trtl pillow wraps around your neck like a scarf and holds your head in a more upright, comfy position than other travel pillows, and I’ve tried them all.

As a stylist, I’m usually flying with at least four suitcases, and this digital scale saves me from paying overweight baggage fees.

I have a TSA-approved clear case ready at all times, stocked with stuff like New Wash, an all-in-one for your hair.

I use these sanitizing Herban Essentials towelettes in lavender to wipe down everything in my hotel room – they smell amazing.

It’s surprising how many hotels still don’t have bedside charging stations, so this two-metre-long cable is a game changer.