With the Academy Awards just around the corner, the stylists to the stars are shifting into high gear, perfecting every last fashion detail before the most glamorous night of the year. So what exactly does it take for a gown to leap off of the rack and become part of Oscar history?
Veteran stylist Elizabeth Stewart, who dressed best actress nominee Cate Blanchett for the 2016 Oscars (below), says that it starts with a gut feeling for both her and her famous clients. “At the beginning, there is usually a glimmer of excitement like a color or a vibe that we both have to like. And then you just have to hope that the magic happens,” she says. “I prefer to start that process early and dress my clients in custom looks, so that the dress is always unique.”
With fashion icon Blanchett, Stewart says the process is visceral. “We respond to things we love,” she says. “Dresses that are special with incredible couture detailing. It has to be unique to Cate and from houses that we have long-standing relationships with. Practically anything goes when you’re a nominee because it’s your moment to shine,” she says.
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Besides Blanchett, Stewart has also turned countless other actresses, like Jessica Chastain and Viola Davis into sartorial winners on Oscar night. Keep reading to see some of the most memorable Academy Awards looks she has helped dream up and exactly what went into making it “the one.”
1. Jessica Chastain in Givenchy Couture, 2015
“Jessica was shooting in Budapest, so we did a lot of emailing with Givenchy and sent sketches back and forth,” says Stewart.
2. Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé, 2014
“Cate was looking through the archives and instantly fell in love with this one,” she says of the gown that Blanchett wore to take home the best actress prize for Blue Jasmine.
3. Amanda Seyfried in Alexander McQueen, 2013
“Amanda and I chose this a month before the show based on the gorgeous embroidery."
4. Viola Davis in Vera Wang, 2012
“Viola knew she wanted to wear green, so we tried lots of different swatches before settling on this rich shade.”
5. Jennifer Lawrence in Calvin Klein Collection, 2011
“I noticed on a photo shoot how great Jennifer looked in a bathing suit and we based this dress on that idea alone."