This awards season has seen a return to sparkle, sequins, sexy silhouettes and, well, celebration.
“We’re a little more liberated,” says Jessica Paster, a veteran stylist who dressed Aubrey Plaza in a slinky Louis Vuitton dress for the Critics Choice Awards, “Babylon” actress Li Jun Li in a strapless Dolce & Gabbana for the Golden Globes, and Emily Blunt in a form-fitting Oscar de la Renta dress for the SAG Awards.
“Before, when people would say black tie, it was a big ol’ ball gown. We still love a big ol’ ball gown, but anything goes now. The pandemic changed a lot about the way we feel. We realized that we have to live our best life, and that means whatever we feel like wearing, we can wear.”
Sustainability has also been top of mind this season and is a trend we’ll likely see on Oscar night. “People are wearing a lot of vintage,” says Paster, “because why waste a dress?”
“Vintage tells a story,” says Micaela Erlanger, who styles Lupita Nyong’o and Meryl Streep. “Vintage informs new fashion and trends. We’re always informed and inspired by the past. It’s how designs and collections are created. This idea of not being able to wear things more than once is so taboo.”
Stars have also been rewearing red carpet looks from their closets. Most notably, Cate Blanchett attended this year’s London Critics’ Circle Film Awards in a custom Alexander McQueen suit that she previously wore to a 2019 New York film premiere. She also re-wore her 2014 Golden Globes look — a black Giorgio Armani Privé dress — to this year’s SAG Awards.
“Cate Blanchett is known for repeatedly rewearing things that she loves,” Erlanger says, noting it was hardly a first for Blanchett and her stylist Elizabeth Stewart, who have been refashioning red carpet looks for years.
It’s a move that’s long been championed by Livia Firth, who founded the Green Carpet Challenge in 2010 and the Green Carpet Awards in 2017, the latter of which Blanchett will be co-chairing in Los Angeles on March 8th.
“This has been a movement slowly happening for some time,” Erlanger says. “I think sustainability will take shape in other ways as well on the red carpet—whether it’s using sustainable materials or remaking things.”
While some Oscar dresses may be pulled from luxury label archives — as Margot Robbie did for her 2020 gown by Chanel — other looks will be informed by this season’s haute couture collections. “Couture is one of the most important seasons to happen before Oscars,” explains Erlanger. “Traditionally, the February collections from ready-to-wear and couture are what every stylist has their eye on for the Oscars. It’s that new-new, fresh-off-the-runway goodness.”
Last year’s Oscar ceremony brought out a few daredevils like Timothée Chalamet (shirtless in a sparkly cropped Louis Vuitton tuxedo jacket) and Kristen Stewart (in short shorts and an edgy black suit by Chanel), but insiders say this season’s haute couture trends hinted at an old school return to glamour.
“This is history repeating itself in many ways,” Erlanger says. “After Prohibition, we saw this return to opulence and this return to glamour and I think we are seeing it now. People want to dream again. People want to have an excuse to get dressed up and to celebrate and to socialize. There’s a real energy around that and we saw that on the runway. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that on the red carpet.” Paster adds, “I saw a lot of ball gowns in the new haute couture collections in pretty pastels.”
The current crop of nominees’ personal tastes also factors into what trends are likely to emerge on Oscar night.
“My prediction is Michelle Yeoh is going to be wearing Armani and her dress is probably going to be based on one of the haute couture dresses,” says Paster, who has styled Oscar nominees and winners over the years including Blanchett, Hilary Swank, Minnie Driver, and Maria Bakalova.
“We know Ana de Armas will wear something beautiful from Louis Vuitton. Because [artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière] doesn’t do evening gowns, it’s probably going to be based on his current collection. The wild card is Michelle Williams. She wears a bit of everything. So that’ll be interesting to see. Andrea Riseborough is the new one on the block and I’m dying to see what she wears. I worked with Andrea in the past and she loves everything from a ball gown to a fitted dress.”
Oscar night differs from all other award shows because, says Paster, “It’s our finale. Our big reveal is the Academy Awards. We want to go out with a bang.”