“It’s Chanel, and it’s (Charles) Finch — how are you going to say ‘no’ to that?” exclaimed “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke, clad in a short-sleeved black toile dress, on her way inside the eighth annual Chanel Pre-Oscar Awards Dinner held on Oscars eve at Madeo restaurant.
There, Clarke joined a starry assembly of fashion trendsetters, including Kristen Stewart, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Diane Kruger, Pharrell Williams, Dakota Fanning, Rooney Mara, Eddie Redmayne and Brie Larson, for some delectable Italian dishes, Oscars discussions and divulgences about when their love affairs with the famous French brand began.
“There’s this Chanel handbag that was the first (Chanel) thing I bought myself,” recalled Clarke, also a longtime fan of the fragrance. “I wore Coco Mademoiselle genuinely my entire life! As soon as it came out, and I just kept replacing it — it’s just having the bottles and the branding!”
Clarke, a previous supporter of talent manager/dinner host Charles Finch’s events — “He does another one for the pre-BAFTAs, which was like, the funnest party I’ve ever been to!” — attended this Oscars soiree a few years back, and knew who she’d pulling for this year. “Brie (Larson),” she immediately said. “I just think she’s so fabulous and so talented! (Her performance was) poignant and just affecting on every level. And to see an independent like that, having been nominated for an Oscar, it’s just kind of fabulous.”
Moore, 2015 Academy Award lead actress winner for “Still Alice,” wore Chanel when she took the trophy. “It was such an honor,” she said, of donning the designer for that sacred moment. And her allegiance is enduring: “I love how inventive it is, and how classic at the same time. That’s the thing about Karl Lagerfeld — he manages to be completely modern, while always referring to so many things in fashion history.”
While Moore arrived in a long black lace dress — “it’s so beautiful and special, and it’s all handmade!” she exclaimed — Stewart kept it more low-key, opting to wear white and grey lace pants for the occasion. “I didn’t want to be ‘styled’ — I just wanted to wear pants and my jacket,” said the Chanel ambassador, who starred in a Chanel short film this year. What she was most looking forward to at this year’s Chanel event was the food. “It’s like, really good here!” Stewart swore of Madeo, which prepared a three-course menu — of carciofi e parmigiano, petto di pollo al limone or branzino all ‘isolana and tiramisu, paired with a Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio — for the discerning bunch. A lively Mariachi band once again held court at the entrance to festively set the party tone.
What Biel was most looking forward to was “enjoying visually what’s happening on everybody’s bodies… a sea of beautiful Chanel.” The Chanel lover was decked in the brand “from head-to-toe,” opting for white gold, diamond and pearl jewelry, a clutch, an ecru tweed jacket and multicolor muslin dress. (“This dress is so very feminine, and it’s quite sheer, but we’ve done rock ‘n’ roll under-bits, so it feels like this combination of feminine and a little bit tough,” Biel said.)
Her first Chanel experience came by way of a leather jacket that she wore to a premiere at age 19 — that she was afterwards gifted. “It’s the greatest gift, and the best first gift ever, because I’ve just worn it forever,” said Biel, who’ll be out tonight for the Oscar after-parties, and is also routing for Larson. “(‘Room’) is my favorite movie of the year. She was just phenomenal — she really deserves it. That was the one that really struck me. I just bawled my eyes out and continued to bawl.”
Kruger — who felt cozy in her chic black and white tweed dress, and is the face of Chanel Skincare — chatted with Variety about her Oscar performance picks. “My favorite film of the year wasn’t even nominated: ‘Youth,'” she said. Kruger was later joined at her dinner table by Rachel Zoe and husband Rodger Berman, while nearby, Anjelica Huston, who arrived with brother Danny Huston, draped an arm around Minnie Driver. “Leonardo DiCaprio,” said Huston of her Oscar frontrunner. “That’s a big performance.”
Meanwhile, last year’s lead actor winner, Redmayne — nominated again for “The Danish Girl” — will be “crossing so many fingers” for his co-star Alicia Vikander, nominated in the best supporting actress category. He also felt that Mark Ruffalo was “amazing in ‘Spotlight.'” (Stars Michael Keaton and Liev Schreiber and director Tom McCarthy were also in the room, as were other directing greats Joel and Ethan Coen, Lenny Abrahamson, David O. Russell, Tom Hooper and John Crowley.)
As for himself, Redmayne noted that his year, he feels “slightly more relaxed about the whole thing.” “Last year was such a frenzy, I wasn’t able to take it all in,” said the Academy Award winner — who praised the “romanticism” and wonderful “Old School” vibe of Finch’s events, and joked lovingly with his wife, as he headed inside.