There's an infamous scene in "Mommie Dearest," the 1981 cult film about Joan Crawford's neuroses, that strikes a chord with neat freaks. Crawford, played by Faye Dunaway, discovers a dress on a wire hanger and explodes into a blind rage. "No wire hangers!" she screams at her daughter. "Ever!" The outburst - so spectacularly vicious it sparked scepticism from critics - made Crawford look downright unhinged. But those who share her aversion to clutter, well, they almost get it.
"Oh, it's terrifying," says Julie Naylon, a Los Angeles-based professional organizer to some of Hollywood's busiest writers, directors, producers and actors
Naylon's approach is different. She has no breezy 10-step plan, no highly stylized Instagram feed, no e-commerce store full of handy organizing gadgets. She isn't convinced spice jars and colour-coding will solve our larger issues with clutter.
"Habits run deep," she says, "real deep. Boxes certainly help, but it's like buying new clothes before you've lost the weight or changed your lifestyle. You need to start at the source."
Naylon's focus is on personal, therapeutic methods: In sessions that are often emotionally exhausting, she asks her clients intimate questions about relationships, career changes and how they ultimately want to live. Lasting transformations, she believes, are inside-out and never easy. This makes her less like a personal trainer or stylist and more like a guru, sought out by clients who desperately want to get organized, but also to heal.
"Most people who contact me are shutting down," Naylon says. "They're beyond wanting an aesthetic transformation. They need help." For that reason, she isn't big on before-and-after photos and offers a nondisclosure agreement before each project. "In this town, people appreciate that level of trust," she says.
After years working for entertainment industry titans such as Jerry Bruckheimer, Nora Ephron and Barry Sonnenfeld, she discovered she had a knack for making dizzying lives run smoothly.
In 2008, after helping McKay (who wrote and directed "The Big Short" and is a producer on HBO's "Succession") move his family across the country and seeking advice from Julie Morgenstern, one of Oprah Winfrey's go-to organizers, Naylon decided to start her own business. She called it No Wire Hangers, a nod to her film career and her environmentally friendly views on stuff (including those flimsy dry-cleaner disposables).
Whether you're buying a bunch of stuff you don't need or just hanging on to a bunch of stuff you don't need, there's a reason for that. Clutter is just postponed decisions. I try to find out what's holding people back.
People hold on to things because they don't want to forget them, but I believe we remember what we're supposed to remember," she says. For people who find that hard to accept, she recommends taking photos. "If that sweater really meant something to you, you probably have a picture of yourself wearing it," she says. "Keep that, and give the sweater to someone who needs it