There’s more to the Oscars red carpet than meets the eye. In fact, for Christian Siriano, Sunday night’s greatest wow moment isn’t just contingent on one beauty’s strut in a custom-designed stunner. The 30-year-old man behind the seams has teamed up with Stella Artois for a one-of-a-kind project that honors the brand’s work with Water.org and aims to raise awareness of our globe’s ongoing water crisis.
So what, exactly, is Siriano doing to lend his fashionable voice to the cause? Come Oscars night, E! red carpet host Maria Menounos (below) will sport a dress Siriano has crafted for her (from several options), which was inspired by the Stella Artois chalices that are sold to bring five years of clean water for one person in the developing world. For the New York-based designer, the project was an opportunity unlike any other. “I get to be inspired by something and it goes for a great cause, so it’s amazing,” he told InStyle, noting that his designs were inspired by Stella’s new chalices, all designed by artists in Haiti, Kenya, and Peru. “It was like a no brainer.”
“There was a lot to consider. One, it is the Oscars, it’s a big stage. Two, Maria is not just attending, she’s working, she’s busy, so it needs to be beautiful and amazing because of where she is,” Siriano said of the beginning of his design process. “I think what Maria and I decided on, we have two kinds of dresses that we’ve kind of narrowed it down to that we made and I think they’re really beautiful, so I’m excited.”
Speaking of beauty, the potential red carpet options are not only stunning, but reflect the message behind the empowering cause. “One was really more inspired by this kind of glass and water, specifically, very kind of ethereal, there’s a lot of movement, a lot of embroidery that kind of represents this idea of water in a way,” he said of the above design. “[The other one is] a little more gilded, it’s a little more color and it shows a different feeling. One’s very ethereal and elegant and one’s a little more powerful and sexy, glamorous. They’re both different worlds.”
Don’t think whittling it down to a final batch of dresses means preparing for the red carpet will be any easier. “Oscars is crazy. I remember last year we dressed Solange [Knowles] and her outfit literally arrived like that morning. It was a hurricane and it was crazy, but she looked amazing and so cool,” he admits. No, Siriano doesn’t have a secret to piecing together head-turning moments in front of the camera—“I wish that there was a secret,” he said. But, he does know how to try.
“I definitely think fit is super important,” he said, explaining that unexpected choices are often the winners. “Sometimes we all would love a big gown moment, but sometimes I’ve noticed that even simpler silhouettes are speaking even more lately.” Considering he’s recently dressed beauties like Lady Gaga, Elle King, and Christina Hendricks for major events, we’re sure Sunday’s showdown will go down flawlessly, too.