Celebrity stylist Sam Saboura started in the suburbs

 
 
Updated 3/3/2015 2:18 PM
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  • Celebrity stylist Sam Saboura, an alumnus of Johnsburg High School, co-hosts TLC's "Something Borrowed, Something New" with Kelly Nishimoto.

    Celebrity stylist Sam Saboura, an alumnus of Johnsburg High School, co-hosts TLC's "Something Borrowed, Something New" with Kelly Nishimoto. courtesy of TLC

  • Celebrity stylist Sam Saboura, an alumnus of Johnsburg High School, co-hosts TLC's "Something Borrowed, Something New" with Kelly Nishimoto.

    Celebrity stylist Sam Saboura, an alumnus of Johnsburg High School, co-hosts TLC's "Something Borrowed, Something New" with Kelly Nishimoto. courtesy of TLC

When Robin Williams shopped for clothes at Fred Segal, he liked to imitate his personal shopper and stylist, Sam Saboura.

The late actor-comedian made everyone in the store laugh, imitating Saboura's fast-talking, excitable, always-on-the-move way.

"He would do impersonations of me every time I left the room, because I was such a spaz," said Saboura, a Johnsburg High School alumnus who helped dress Williams and dozens of other A-list celebrities, including Ringo Starr, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jude Law and Jennifer Aniston.

Saboura's Type-A personality, combined with his good taste and Midwestern charm, has served him well in Hollywood, where he's been a top celebrity stylist for the past 20 years.

He currently styles Food Network's Giada De Laurentiis, co-hosts TLC's bridal gown reality show "Something Borrowed, Something New" (he's waiting to hear if the show's been picked up for a fourth season), launched a bridal fashion website Robe et Voile, and does a ton of other fashion-related projects on and off camera.

"(Giada's) like my sister. We're like the male-female version of each other. We harass each other and poke fun at each other, and we've traveled around the world together," he said. "She's a tiny little cute thing and a lot of fun to dress. She's like my little doll."

Saboura has loved fashion since he was a preschooler, thanks to his mom, who worked for different fashion labels and designed her own high-end lingerie line that sold at places like Bergdorf-Goodman.

Born in Park Ridge, Saboura moved to Wheeling and attended Eugene Field Elementary School until sixth grade. That's when the family left for Johnsburg, the place where Saboura realized his love of fashion was rivaled by another love -- theater.

He was in all the school plays at Johnsburg High School and went on to earn a theater degree from the University of Iowa.

"They had an exceptional theater department at Johnsburg. Even that small little town, it was an incredible community," he said. "It was amazing training for what I do today."

After college, Saboura went to New York City and workshopped some off-Broadway productions with esteemed playwright Tony Kushner. Hoping to build on his acting career, he moved to Los Angeles. Instead, he found himself drawn back to the world of fashion.

Saboura was hired as a personal shopper at Fred Segal, the exclusive specialty clothing store in Los Angeles. He spent most of his 20s there working as a personal shopper, helping almost every celebrity who walked through the door. Which was just about everyone.

Among his clients: the Italian designer Valentino ("I didn't realize who he was at first. I just thought, this guy is really tan and he looks really familiar") and Brad Pitt ("He almost has an aura about him").

While most big stars were wonderful to work with -- he said Pitt is one of the kindest celebrities, because he never acted like a celebrity, always listened, and was never dismissive -- there were some entitled, demanding divas, too.

He declined to name names, unfortunately.

"It's the people you least expect who are the worst. It's the 'America's sweetheart' types," he said.

Because of his many successful years at Fred Segal, Saboura was able to launch his own freelance stylist business. In 2003, he got a call from ABC, saying they needed someone for "Extreme Makeover." With his acting background, he had no fear of being on camera, so he decided to give TV a try. He got the job and has been on TV ever since.

These days, most of Saboura's time is spent on TV. But he juggles multiple jobs -- including designer, stylist, consultant, editor, and even teacher at School of Style in Los Angeles. That's just how he wants it.

"If I linger too long in one world, I'm not happy," he said. "I'm happy doing a little of everything and having my fingers in all the pies."

His career, he says, couldn't have turned out any better.

"It's been a really interesting ride," Saboura said. "It's been 20 years of doing what I love."

-- Jamie Sotonoff

• Dann Gire and Jamie Sotonoff are always looking for people from the suburbs who are now working in showbiz. If you know of someone who would make an interesting feature, email them at dgire@dailyherald.com and jsotonoff@dailyherald.com.

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