Best known for films like Belle and Beyond the Lights, actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s career is hitting new heights this week, thanks to a starring role alongside Matthew McConaughey in the Civil War drama, Free State of Jones. And off-screen? She’s soaring as well, at least style-wise.
The 33-year-old has become one to watch the last few years because of her feminine, yet modern, fashion choices. And her stylist, Cristina Ehrlich, says her look is evolving now more than ever. “Gugu will always gravitate towards dresses that are classic and polished, but recently we’ve been experimenting a lot more,” says Ehrlich.
One major turning point was the bold yellow Narciso Rodriguez gown that she wore to the NAACP Image Awards in February. "I wasn't sure how she would feel about the cutouts or the bright color, but she was totally game,” says Ehrlich. “She knew that it was sexy, but it still had a sophistication and a cool factor. It was a big moment for her."
Mbatha-Raw has also recently stunned in an embossed look by Louis Vuitton, a vibrant purple Prada number, and a handful of cheeky creations by Burberry, one of her favorite fashion houses. "She is very open to trying new things—colors, silhouettes, even designers,” says Ehrlich.
We can’t wait to see what she wears next. Keep scrolling to see 10 of our faves, so far.
1. Narciso Rodriguez, 2016
"We were saving this Narciso Rodriguez gown for the right occasion," says Ehrlich. "And when she put it on for the NAACP Image Awards, it felt effortless, especially with her gorgeous natural hair." Turquoise and gold Irene Neuwirth earrings and a cuff complemented the sunny marigold shade.
2. Louis Vuitton, 2015
"This is a risk-taker's dress," says Mbatha-Raw's stylist of this textured Louis Vuitton column. "The sexy side zipper traced the curves of her body."
3. Lanvin, 2014
At the N.Y.C. première of Beyond the Lights, the 33-year-old actress arrived in an embroidered Lanvin look that was artfully draped. "She has a sophistication beyond her actual age," says Ehrlich.
4. Oscar de la Renta, 2014
A few weeks after designer Oscar de la Renta passed away, Mbatha-Raw chose one of his fit-and-flare creations for the Governors Awards. Says Ehrlich: "Gugu embodies the timeless spirit of his designs."
5. Burberry, 2015
"She is certainly feminine, but she also knows how to make pieces feel modern," notes Ehrlich. Case in point: topping a ladylike floral jacquard Burberry gown with a studded leather belt.
6. Vivienne Westwood Red Label Collection, 2014
"Even though this Vivienne Westwood dress is multicolored, the painterly print comes across as a neutral," says Ehrlich. "We wanted to do a pop of color with the Rodo clutch and Kurt Geiger pumps."
7. Calvin Klein Collection, 2014
This Calvin Klein Collection look was actually a floor-length gown before Mbatha-Raw and her stylist had it shortened for the Gotham Independent Film Awards.
8. Burberry, 2014
"English girls often have a cheeky side to their style," says Ehrlich. The Oxford-born actress shows off hers at the British Academy Britannia Awards in a playful, feathered Burberry frock.
9. Prada, 2015
"Gugu fell in love with the details of this Prada gown—the soft lilac color, the open back, the stunning train," recalls Ehrlich. "She exudes such elegance."
10. Jason Wu, 2015
"The rose gold embroidery on this Jason Wu dress was perfection against Gugu's cocoa skin tone," says Ehrlich. Gleaming Stuart Weitzman sandals and an Edie Parker bag made for a monochromatic moment.