As fashionistas across the globe await Sunday’s Academy Awards show, excited to see what the nominees and presenters are wearing this year, everyone in the know agrees on one thing. There will be no swan dress.
“It’s all very, very safe,” says stylist George Blodwell, who has dressed Helen Mirren for the show. “You can’t really take risks, because you are photographed from so many angles. And a lot of outfits, although they’re great, they don’t work, because you really have to hit the body very, very well for a red carpet. And all the stars know this. And those with good stylists know this. That’s why you don’t find anyone taking too much risk. In fact, it’s kind of formulaic to me.”
Jen Rade, stylist to everyone from Angelina Jolie (she put her in the famous black dress with the thigh-high slit last year) and Brad Pitt to Marilyn Manson, and now clothing designer with a new ready-to-wear line with QVC, agrees.
“I don’t ever want to be the person that says, ‘Wear this dress with the firecracker on the ass because it’s different.’ That side of fashion, I don’t know,” says Rade. “It’s like, ‘Oh I get it. You just wore something with spikes like a fucking spine coming off your back, because you think that’s fashion.’ For me that’s the antithesis of fashion. And the only reason we’re talking about you is cause you wore something stark raving insane.”
Hollywood’s top stars now move in a completely different direction.
“We’re going back to that really elegant, beautiful, classic woman and making it more about the woman than the gown or the outfit,” says Linda Medvene, who has been dressing nominee Helen Hunt throughout this awards season. “The dresses are not as elaborate. But I think that they’re as beautiful in a different way. They’re inspired from the ’20s to the ’40s right now. I feel Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn coming back in to style. There are a lot of primary colors, and black-and-white looks are definitely the trend right now.”
Charlene Roxborough, stylist to Jeremy Renner and Eva Longoria, sees the same trend, for both men and women. “From the Golden Globes on the women are starting to shift towards more of the modern, clean, with lots of jeweled tones, simple and beautiful and just chic without adding any additional sparkles and sequins,” she says. “And the men are tailored to a T, very dapper.”
While many of the top actors look to their stylists, some nominees take a very active role in the process. “I love to get specific direction from a client,” says stylist Elizabeth Stewart, who has been navigating Jessica Chastain through awards season. “Like this year, when Jessica said she loves sea foam (green), which resulted in her wearing the sea foam Calvin Klein at the Globes.”
Another trend that shouldn’t come as a surprise is what Blodwell calls “the backroom deal,” designers offering financial compensation to the star in exchange for wearing their dress (or shoes, jewels, etc.).
“It’s been creeping in the last few years,” Blodwell says. “It’s huge exposure, especially on the Academy Awards. Huge!”