When PEOPLE’s annual Best & Worst Dressed issue made its debut 22 years ago, it wasn’t difficult to crack Hollywood’s dress code. Flouncy was in, flashy was out, and only Cher walked around half naked. Fast forward to 2001. There are no more rules and 10 times the options, which greatly increases the chances for stars to look just right—or all wrong.
Picking this year’s winners and sinners proved to be a herculean task. To be sure that all the wonderful and wayward dressers got their due, we instituted 16 categories, ranging from Glamor Girls (page 84) who light up the red carpet to What a Mess (page 151), which takes to task the stars who always look like they just rolled out of bed. Then we assembled a panel of 19 staffers to judge the outfits that made our final cut.
But how to artfully present all this on 70 pages? That task fell to Greg Monfries, 36, our special projects art director since 1998. “This year’s issue has the most pictures of any Best & Worst Dressed issue ever,” he says. “I wanted to make the pages informative and lively without distracting from the photos. You want the clothes to be what people see.”
Assistant managing editor Elizabeth Sporkin, who supervised this issue, knew that Monfries “would make it a page-turner,” she says. “I’m in awe of Greg’s ability to take so many disparate elements and shape them into something cohesive and exciting.”
Known around our halls for his own hip style (favorites include Ralph Lauren, Prada and Banana Republic), the Manhattanite inherited his keen eye from his father, Linval, a former graphic illustrator, and mother, Jeanette, director of marketing for a cosmetics lab. Both emigrated from Jamaica in the 1960s and settled in White Plains, N.Y., where they raised Greg and his brother Wayne, 34, an accountant.
For a while Greg, too, was on the CPA path. He enrolled in Howard University in Washington, D.C., “but I hated studying business,” he says. “All my life I’ve been drawing and painting. As a kid I would copy Speed-Racer cartoons. I always thought I would have a career in art.” After three years Monfries transferred out of Howard and put himself through Parsons School of Design in New York City by working as a billing clerk at a law firm. Before joining PEOPLE in 1995, he held design jobs at New Woman and Men’s Style magazines.
We are very glad that business school wasn’t Greg’s gig. Take a look at our Best & Worst Dressed issue, and we’re sure you’ll agree.