'Crip Camp' 's Judy Heumann Worked with Markarian to Custom Create the Dreamiest Oscars Suit

InStyle spoke to the disability rights activist and the designer, Alexandra O'Neill, on the process.

judy heumann
Photo: Courtesy of Vlasta Pilot/BFA.com

If picking out an outfit for a random, Friday night dinner can cause panic, we can only imagine the pressure that comes with finding the perfect Oscars look. But, for 2021's award show, Judy Heumann, whose film, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, didn't have to worry.

Celeb-favorite — and First Lady-approved! — Markarian custom-created a stunning champagne suit fit for the occasion, complete with a sequined, beaded jacket that definitely deserves a closer look.mBoth Heumann and Markarian's Alexandra O'Neill spoke with InStyle about the design process, revealing how they worked together to come up with a winning look. Check it out, ahead.

Why did you choose to work with Markarian on your look?

Judy Heumann: "When I learned that I was going to the Oscars, I had never really thought about what I would wear if I were asked. I spoke to my dear friend Rick Guidotti from Positive Exposure who knows many people in the design industry. He contacted his friends at Fashion Makes Change, who were thrilled to collaborate, and reached out to one of their founding brand partners, Markarian, to set up a time to talk over zoom. I immediately was drawn in by the warmth and openness of their team. Also, I loved the clothes that Dr. Biden had worn for the inauguration and learned that Alexandra O'Neill was one of the designers of her clothing."

What was the design process like? Did you two plan out the look together?

Alexandra O'Neill: "I worked closely with Judy on designing her look for the Oscars where her film Crip Camp is nominated for Best Documentary. We met over zoom a few times while going through the design process and managed to create her look in a little over a week. Even though there was a quick turnaround, the opportunity to dress Judy was so meaningful, as the film helps to empower people in the disability community and helps non-disabled people to understand the importance of advocacy and support."

judy heumann
Courtesy of Vlasta Pilot/BFA.com

Why pants instead of a gown?

JH: "I use a wheelchair and do not walk. I wanted the clothing I would wear to feel elegant and not to have to worry about having to pull this way and that. I wear pants and want no buttons or zippers — only elastic or drawstring. I needed to feel that I could be honest about how the clothes felt — if they didn't feel right I wanted to not feel guilty about wanting changes. In the end, all of this came to pass. The clothing I will be wearing makes me feel great and proud to be a representative of Crip Camp."

Were there special details that were important to you?

AO: "We thought a champagne silk satin pantsuit would create a modern look with beautifully clean lines. We paired it with an ivory paillette cropped jacket with Swarovski crystals and beaded trim. We completed the look with a pair of earrings that were made in collaboration with Ciner NY. Judy has been a notable activist within the disability community for years, and we wanted to create a look for her that was representative of her strength and power."

judy heumann
Courtesy of Vlasta Pilot/BFA.com

Any specific reason for the color?

AO: "We chose a beautiful champagne color in silk satin for the pantsuit in celebration of the evening. We hand-embellished Judy's jacket with Swarovski crystals to give her a little extra shine for the night. The color evokes a classic take on the celebratory nature of the evening for all of the people involved with the project."

What does it mean to be working with Judy on this look for the Oscars?

AO: "We were so excited for this opportunity as Judy is such an inspirational woman and a wonderful role model. It is an honor to be able to work with a strong and accomplished woman on a night that is indicative of the progress in the industry. Crip Camp celebrates the stories, histories, and heroes of those in the disability community and has given the community a voice. We are honored to have been a part of this night, and we cannot emphasize enough how thankful we are to work with Judy and support her on this momentous occasion."

judy heumann
Courtesy of Vlasta Pilot/BFA.com

What does it feel like to be going to the Oscars?

JH: "This is a landmark film that is telling a story about a part of the Disability Rights Movement. A story that too many people in the Disability community and the general society do not know. I am so proud of my dear friend Jimmy LeBrecht, Nicole Newnham and Sara Bolder who have worked tirelessly putting this film together. Crip Camp is making Disabled people around the world feel pride and enabling people to speak up against discrimination and to fight for Justice for All."

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