How Laura Prepon's 2016 SAG Awards Red Carpet Gown Survived a Blizzard
It's no secret there's a lot of work that goes into red carpet gowns, but surviving a blizzard? That's above and beyond.
Two years ago, Hollywood stylist Hellin Kay packed her Prius with a stack of red carpet-worthy gowns (and all the shoes and clutches to match) and went on a solo four-day road trip from New York City to Los Angeles just in time for awards season. And this cross-country endeavor has been a tradition of hers ever since. She was hooked.
Cut to this year after Kay just survived her second "road trip to the red carpet" on behalf of her celebrity client Laura Prepon, Orange Is the New Black star (and author of Stash Plan—available March 1). "This year's was a bit more dramatic—I had to sit with my weather maps trying to figure out which roads to take so I wouldn't die," Kay regales. "There were blizzards, floods, tornados, torrential downpours—it was apocalyptic. But I white-knuckled it and survived."
She survived—as did all 30 of the potential red carpet gowns that Kay had pulled for Prepon, including designs from Carmen Marc Valvo, Dennis Basso, Erin Fetherston, Marissa Webb, Blumarine, Sophie Theallet, Philipp Plein, and Tracy Reese, with each safeguarded by a garment bag and heaped on top of another in the back of her car's trunk. And about 15 pairs of shoes. And 15 clutches.
"I could have easily hopped on a flight and had all the clothes shipped to me in Los Angeles, not a problem. But this is an adventure. I find these five days alone on the road meditative. It's a vision quest but without the drugs," Kay laughs. "It allows me a moment to breathe and refocus. We spend so much time in between these two major cities that I like to see the rest of the country."
And she's the first to find humor in the whole situation. "Some of these gowns are from Paris and they're in the trunk of my car," she laughs. "They travel from Paris to New York, through blizzards, and they land on the red carpet in Los Angeles."
The top contender for Prepon's first major red carpet look of the season was a burgundy version of a pretty pink Carmen Marc Valvo dress that Kay fell in love with at a shoot, so much so that she had the dress made specially for Prepon. But the night before the SAG Awards, there was a change of heart and the winning choice was a white ethereal Carmen Marc Valvo gown that had endured Kay's coast-to-coast journey.
We had to know: Will these nightmarish weather conditions deter you from future road trips?
"Never—I love my road trips, it clears your head, clears your mind, and it reminds you that hey, you can do anything," Kay adamantly says. "And it's completely badass."
The Initial Inspiration
"I did a photoshoot with Taylor Foster, and I fell in love with this pink Carmen Marc Valvo dress—it's made of multi-layered chiffon with very delicate pleats all around. It's stunning," says stylist Hellin Kay. "I had this idea that if we made this dress in burgundy, it would be beautiful on Laura. Carmen Marc Valvo agreed and made the dress for us."
The Burgundy Version
"Laura Prepon's style is modern rock 'n' roll with a romantic, vintage twist. She's really into black, which is something we've been trying to get away from, because it's a comfort zone," Kay says. "Burgundy was a good compromise—there's color, but it isn't too far from black."
Other Dress Options for the Red Carpet
"When I pull dresses, I'm very focused, and I zero in on a couple of things that I know will work. I tend to go by instinct, and I know what will work on Laura body-wise, tonal-wise, and style-wise," Kay explains. "I always pull other gowns because there are other events, and it's always better to be prepared in came something comes up." Kay pulled from Carmen Marc Valvo, Dennis Basso, Erin Fetherston, Marissa Webb, Blumarine, Sophie Theallet, Philipp Plein, and Tracy Reese.
Road Trip to the Red Carpet
"I find these five days alone on the road meditative. It's a vision quest—but without the drugs," Kay laughs. "It allows me a moment to breathe and refocus. We spend so much time in between these two major cities that I like to see the rest of the country." Her trip this year, though, was a bit more dramatic. "I had to sit with my weather maps trying to figure out which roads to take so I wouldn't die," Kay regales. "There were blizzards, floods, tornados, torrential downpours—it was apocalyptic. But I white-knuckled it and survived."
On the Last Day of Hellin Kay's Road Trip
"It was so horrendous driving—there was literally nothing to shoot," Kay says. "By the time I got to drier land, it was the last day of my trip, which was when I took a photo of these Aperlai heels."
The Top Shoe Contenders by Paris Shoe Designer Olgana Djanguirov
"I requested these pairs from Olgana Paris—the designer's styles haven't been worn much stateside; this is her first season doing red carpet," Kay explains. "They were sent from Paris to Los Angeles." Prepon ended up wearing the pale pink pair with the ruffled black accent (pictured, far right).
"Laura sent me a picture of these pink earrings from Stephen Webster that she loved, and I thought they were awesome," Kay says of the architectural drop earrings (pictured far left). "It's a cool contrast against the dress and the shoes." Kay also pulled from Forevermark and Dena Kemp.
Red Carpet Prep
On the day of, Prepon 'grammed how she preps for the red carpet: "I start by sweating in my infrared sauna. I always feel like it shakes off the sleep fog to break a sweat first thing, as well as sweat out those pesky toxins. Then I jump in a freezing cold pool to jump start my body and get ready for the day! Better than any cup of coffee."
Laura Prepon Takes a Pre-Red Carpet Selfie
Hair, check. Makeup, check. Diamonds, check. Prepon snapped a selfie before slipping on her Carmen Marc Valvo gown.
The Winning Dress
Even though the custom burgundy dress was Kay's favorite, she admits that the "white dress turned out to be the right dress. Really it just came down to what looked best, felt instinctively right for the night, and most importantly, what Laura felt best in. And she looked stunning."
Laura Prepon's Final Look at the 2016 SAG Awards
Not only did Prepon look like a winner, she was one—she took home an award for Outstanding Performance in an Ensemble for her role as Alex Vause in Orange is the New Black.