Stylists lift lid on Oscar dramas, tantrums

 

They will be playing best supporting roles at the Oscars - but you won't see any of them on screen.

According to The Sun, a host of frantic stylists are putting the final touches to gowns for ­potential gong winners including Lady Gaga, Emma Stone and Olivia Colman.

Four leading film fashionistas today lift the lid on the ­tantrums, last-minute dramas and tricks that keep actresses at the Academy Awards looking … well, like movie stars.

Elizabeth Saltzman, who has dressed huge names including Gwyneth Paltrow and Uma Thurman for the big night, said: "You frequently have to sew them back into a dress or cut off the train because they've stepped through it.

 

Uma Thurman at the Oscars in 1995. Picture: Supplied
Uma Thurman at the Oscars in 1995. Picture: Supplied

 

"But there's always a fix and the world will never know.

"When something goes wrong, whatever it is, we can fix it. I've had a make-up artist drop a red lipstick on a pale pink dress, but what are you going to do?

"Scream about it? Will that help? No. You just go get some baby powder and you work on it until you don't see it.

"Stuff happens. No matter how stressful it is, I never let clients see it in me because it will feel ten times worse for them. I'm there to make it work."

 

Olivia Colman is a favourite for this year’s Oscars. Picture: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images
Olivia Colman is a favourite for this year’s Oscars. Picture: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

 

At today's 91st Academy Awards (12pm AEDT) - where Brit Olivia ­Colman, 45, is a frontrunner for Best Actress - the total cost of all the outfits and styling is expected to be $A100 million.

But cash does not always help - as in the case of Jennifer Lawrence's Dior gown in 2013.

Worth $A5.5 million, it was the most expensive dress in Oscars history - but was not designed for its wearer to climb stairs.

Lawrence ended up tripping on it as she headed up on stage to collect her Best Actress award.

Other infamous fashion moments include Paltrow, 46, arriving in a see-through top with no bra in 2002.

And in 2017, a gown slashed to the waist showed photographers far too much of embarrassed starlet Blanca Blanco.

Actress Margot Robbie attends Charles Finch And CHANEL's 11th Annual Pre-Oscar Awards Dinner at Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Picture: Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage
Actress Margot Robbie attends Charles Finch And CHANEL's 11th Annual Pre-Oscar Awards Dinner at Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Picture: Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage

Unsurprisingly, stress levels among actresses over their looks ahead of big awards can be sky-high, prompting diva meltdowns.

Kate Young, who was voted Hollywood's most influential stylist last year and whose ­clients include Rachel Weisz and Margot Robbie, remembers one star in particular.

She said: "A former client kicked a tailor who was pinning the hem of her dress - just because she thought she could. I don't work with her any more."

The stylist, who has 416,000 Instagram followers, also told how she almost had her own meltdown when she decided Michelle Williams should wear an orange outfit in 2012.

Young said: "I didn't sleep for, like, two weeks because of nerves. I told my best friend, 'It's orange, what do you think?'

"And she said: 'Oof! Really, Kate? Orange?!' " The look ended up winning Williams a spot on best-dressed lists.

Young, who started out as ­assistant to Vogue editor Anna ­Wintour, says the key to a top Oscars outfit is  good underwear.

She explained: "I like using undergarments to build a body, for example hip pads, good bras, bodysuits and shoulder pads."

 

Natalie Portman (2nd L) with Oscar at the 83rd Academy Awards on in Hollywood, California, USA 27 Feb 2011. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Sayles
Natalie Portman (2nd L) with Oscar at the 83rd Academy Awards on in Hollywood, California, USA 27 Feb 2011. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

 

One grateful recipient of her styling tips is Natalie Portman, who won praise for the purple Rodarte maternity gown Young chose for her at the 2011 Oscars.

Young had also steered her through her fashion decisions for the whole awards season.

Portman, 37, said later: "It's very lucky to have someone who curates those choices for you, so we actresses can do our full-time jobs - act.

"It's especially lucky to have a stylist who has taste as excellent as Kate's."

Meanwhile, Petra Flannery had the honour of dressing La La Land star Emma Stone, 30, in 2017 - but needed some help.

 

Emma Stone attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. Picture: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Emma Stone attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. Picture: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

 

She said: "The entire dress was hand-beaded on to lace. It took more than 1700 hours and a team of 11 from the Givenchy Atelier. It's a beaded wonder. When you see it up close it's a marvel of various golden ­colours, shapes and sizes."

But the elaborate style meant epic fitting sessions, which Flannery tried to keep fun by speaking to Stone in the style of stars of Hollywood's golden age.

She said: "I love to speak as if we are from the 1940s.

"It's a take on Katharine ­Hepburn and Cary Grant's transatlantic accents."

Elizabeth Stewart has styled actresses at 18 Oscar ceremonies - including Gwyneth Paltrow in 2012 when her caped white Tom Ford gown was hailed as one of the best looks in red-carpet history.

She says planning a dress for a big awards night - including the various parties - begins months in advance.

 

 

Stewart explained: "The amount of events is kind of astonishing. It's a bit chaotic, so I try to be a bastion of organisation and calm for my clients.

"Prep is hugely important - we need to send a client off with all of their looks ready.

"We have a look and a back- up look for every single event, accessorise it head to toe, tailor it to the nines and, often in high-pressure situations, I just have to make it work.

"I recently had to fit a client on set. She was shooting and it turned out she had 15 minutes and we had to get her fit for two awards shows. Somehow we got it done."

Stewart dressed Cate Blanchett, 49, in her 2007 metal mesh Armani gown - which was far heavier than the stylist realised.

She said: "The day after the Oscars, the year she wore the silver chain mail Armani, Cate's skin was bright red.

"We weighed the dress on the bathroom scale and it was 40lb (18 kilos)!

"But you would never have known it by the way she carried the dress."

Stewart says all actresses know the gown - and how they wear it - is crucial.

She said: "For the talent, a great dress keeps them relevant."

Above, the four stylists reveal their rules for making sure their clients look like winners.

 

Lady Gaga arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of , for which she is nominated for Best Actress at this year’s Oscars. Picture: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File
Lady Gaga arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of , for which she is nominated for Best Actress at this year’s Oscars. Picture: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File

It comes as the New York Post revealed that the red carpet has been harmed by social media campaigns such as #askhermore which implored interviewers to discuss serious issues on the red carpet, especially with women.

The campaign caused a noticeable drop in designer shoutouts on the red carpet. "We're nervous if we bring up clothes, we'll lose face time with the big names or their publicists will get pissed and blacklist us," one red-carpet reporter confided in me when we covered the Globes two years ago. Indeed, to ensure the A-listers turned up for interviews, networks have shied away from style questions, often asking movie stars about their acting process or activism instead.

As the #MeToo movement crescendoed in 2017, the style shaming got even worse, as if Versace's sex-bomb gowns made Harvey Weinstein a creep in the first place.

By last year's Golden Globes, stars like Natalie Portman and Penelope Cruz forsook fantasy for protest gear, wearing black to declare #TimesUp on workplace harassment.

That's great, but fashion isn't a shameful or stupid topic. In fact, it creates art - and jobs - for millions of Americans. If the style shunning continues at the Oscars this Sunday, it could be devastating for a very important industry.

 

Reese Witherspoon during the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Loews Hollywood Hotel on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. Picture: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Reese Witherspoon during the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Loews Hollywood Hotel on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. Picture: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

 

 

When Reese Witherspoon declared "we're more than just our dresses" at the Oscars in 2015, she was right: Witherspoon is a producer, an actress, an activist and a mum. But Witherspoon also knows the might of a gorgeous dress - after all, she creates them herself for her brand, Draper James.

Witherspoon's pretty clothes don't negate her talent, but somewhere along the line, "What are you wearing?" became red-carpet code for "What are you, stupid?"

You can look great and also be great. Loving fashion isn't dumb or meaningless, and neither are the men and women who talk about it - and the people who make it, fuelling our economy and our collective dreams in the process. Why is it shallow or sexist to discuss it?

 

- With the New York Post and The Sun



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