From Sandra Bullock’s Oscar-winning gown in 2010 to nominee Hailee Steinfeld’s blush princess moment in 2011, Marchesa designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig have made some of the most memorable Oscar dresses of the last decade. And now they’re setting out to make red carpet history again.
For this Sunday’s ceremony, the designers are dressing tastemaker Olivia Culpo in a bespoke creation that’s both pretty and powerful. Partnering with Stella Artois and Water.org, Chapman and Craig incorporated design elements from Stella Artois’s limited edition chalice into Culpo’s look in an effort to bring awareness to the global water crisis. Every chalice sold will then provide five years of clean water for someone in a developing country.
“We wanted to use the red carpet as a platform to get this important message across,” says Craig. “So when we started designing we asked ourselves, ‘how can we make a dress for Olivia that’s beautiful, Oscar-worthy, and yet still really shines a light on this cause?’” That answer became clear as they dreamed up three sketches for Culpo to choose from, all incorporating glass beading made from the chalices themselves and fluid silhouettes inspired by water.
With a concept in place, the designers then met with Culpo to get her input. “That was the best part,” says Chapman of the process that took almost three months in total. “We talked about shapes, color, everything. And we knew that Olivia would make the dress pop as soon as she put it on.”
For Culpo, the collaboration was a chance to combine two of her favorite things—fashion and philanthropy—something she’s done since her days as Miss Universe. “I always like to try something new on the red carpet and this is such meaningful way to do it,” says Culpo. “The fact that it’s going to help provide water for people across the world is incredible.”
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Culpo has been a longtime fan of Marchesa’s aesthetic, but this Sunday will be the first time that she’ll wear a gown by the brand to an event. While she’s keeping mum on which of the three dresses (below) she ultimately chose, you’ll know her when you see her on the Oscars red carpet. “It’s easy to pinpoint a Marchesa dress because it’s always ethereal, whimsical, and looks like it’s almost out of a fairytale,” she says. And in this case, it’s a fairytale with a very happy ending.