in her shoes

How a High-Profile Event Planner Dresses for Work

Photo: Gabriela Herman

Planning Gwyneth Paltrow’s wedding might be stressful for some of people, but for Colleen Kennedy Cohen, it’s all in a day’s work. An event planner with a background in fashion — she worked at both Cartier and Valentino, and served as Goop’s senior director of events — Cohen’s job entails executing parties and dinners for high-profile clients. She’s organized and art-directed plenty of society weddings (Gwyneth’s among them), as well as events for luxury brands.

Now based in London, Cohen runs a business that operates in both Europe and the United States. The Cut caught up with her on a recent trip in New York to talk about wearing all black, style after motherhood, and what it’s like when your job is all about having flawless taste.

Photo: Gabriela Herman

On the shoes she wears every day: I’m always in flat shoes. Right now I’m living in my Alexander McQueen low tops and Proenza Schouler’s Chelsea boots. But if I have a dressier event, I’ll do something with a chunkier heel, like these Manolo Blahnik boots.

On going out after work: I always try to dress for the whole day. As a mom and a small-business owner, I wear a lot of hats. I might have to be anywhere from high-profile client meetings to ballet classes. I like mixing classics with something a bit fancier, like this Maje dress. It looks like two pieces but it’s actually one, and it looks just as good with sneakers as it does heels.

On what she wears to big meetings: I firmly believe you can never go wrong with head-to-toe black. I love brands like Khaite, Co, and The Row for their clean style and timelessness.

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On having a job that’s all about style: My personal aesthetic is reflected everywhere in my life, from what I wear to how I decorate my home to how I design events. You’ll notice everything is very clean and classic but still thoughtful. I never want it to feel fussy or overly designed.

I try to evoke the five senses. It starts with what you see, so in my world that means beautiful organic flowers surrounded by tapered candles. What you’ll hear are the sounds of carefully selected entertainers. And of course, you need delicious food and drink, so I make sure that the cocktails and food complement the décor. I find that most people don’t think of touch, but I want to mix textures throughout my space. And lastly, smell — it could be the food showing off or amazing candles burning. I want to create a memorable experience.

On post-pregnancy style: Having kids has definitely forced me to simplify my life and style, in the best way. My youngest is now 15 months and on the move, so I need to keep up with him (and his sticky fingers!). I used to have a closet full of “corporate-approved” dresses, skirts, and pants from past jobs and have since given those all away. While pregnant, I lived in Hatch dresses and jumpsuits. Now I’ve transitioned to more relaxed brands like Rachel Comey, La Ligne, Isabel Marant, and Ulla Johnson.

On impressing clients: I always strive to dress in a way that reflects my brand and personal aesthetic. Whether I have a walk-through at an outdoor venue, a cake tasting, or a formal presentation, my outfit is usually determined by the environment and what will make me feel the most confident and comfortable in the setting. That said, I’ll throw in a designer accessory like my Cartier tank watch.

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On how her style has evolved: When I was younger I was definitely drawn toward trends. Now, I’m much more thoughtful about investing in my wardrobe. I’ve also simplified my life in a lot of ways and tend to be drawn to minimal pieces and monochromatic dressing.

On the last three things she bought: Tina Chen is a linen company based out of Queens that makes the most beautiful napkins. I bought some of those. Since it’s fall, I also stocked up on Tata Harper reparative moisturizer. And my last purchase was a Frame Les Seconds tote for everyday use.

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How a High-Profile Event Planner Dresses for Work