Olivia Colman at 91st Academy AwardsRed Carpet
To some, Olivia Colman’s victory came as a surprise at this year’s 91st Academy Awards. What I rather found surprising was her choice of clothing for the occasion—and the story behind it is quite fascinating.
You might think that an actor has no problems dealing with the spotlight, but according to what Ms. Colman told The New York Times, hers is not the case.
“To wear something that makes you feel like someone else, or at least makes you feel powerful and confident, up for the fight—I’ve discovered that is necessary.” And it seems like it was stylist Mary Fellowes who helped her do exactly that. She said: “Olivia is a strong woman, a working mother and an independent thinker. She also has a real woman’s body. These have always been major considerations when we are thinking about how she should dress.”
But such big moments never came easy, because it seems like fashion houses were not that keen on lending their clothes to someone—still—not that famous.
“Throughout my entire career, I have been frustrated by the fact that fashion, both editorial and on the red carpet, largely exists in a bubble,” Ms. Fellowes said. “These size zero bodies, the fairy queen gowns: they don’t look or feel real, nor do they have anything to do with the lives of real women. Of course, a woman wants to feel good in the hot glare of the spotlight. But plenty can be done via a game of proportions and smart tailoring, styling tricks and knowing how to pose. Fashion should enhance and empower women; it shouldn’t shrink them.”
In the beginning they contacted Alexander McQueen, but as soon as Ms. Colman won more awards, more designers were welcoming. Finally found this sort of “power”, the two ladies decided to go even further: “They decided that if Ms. Colman was going to endorse a brand by wearing it on the red carpet, it should have associations that mattered to her. It should ideally be, for example, family-owned; make efforts toward sustainability; and maybe involve another working mother (Ms. Colman has three children).”
That was when Prada came into the game: “The two women then drew pictures of dream dresses in the car on the way to the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Ms. Fellowes had brought along a file of Prada dresses, fabrics and embroidery from years gone by.
Ms. Colman said she knew she wanted simple, with a big bow on the back. The Prada atelier set about making their shared vision a reality.”
“Thus was born the long, sleeveless A-line turtleneck gown in emerald green silk radzimir—plus a smoky-gray silk organza cape with puffed sculpted sleeves—that Ms. Colman wore. Designed to be draped around the shoulders, it was gathered into a giant bow at the back that cascaded into an embroidered train covered in Swarovski crystal flowers. A team of eight in the Prada atelier worked on it for a total of 120 hours in the run-up to the Oscars; the embroidery alone took a dozen artisans more than 300 hours.”
Quotes from The New York Times article
“Unlike many Oscars dresses, hers came with useable pockets, allowing her to pose in front of photographers. Colman clearly isn’t a fan of the glitzy appearances that come with her job, so it makes sense that she wanted to wear something that would calm her nerves during the Oscars. Pockets do just that, giving people an easy place to put their hands during photo calls.”
Quotes from Bustle.com’s article
“When you work with a house on a custom gown, the brand’s visual codes should be prevalent, so we focused on modern embellishment and drapery, which Prada does like no other.”
“It was clear all around that emerald should be the principle hue. And the cerebral, understated nature of slate grey as an accent cuts through the glamour of all the shine in the fabric and the crystal embellishment.”
“Ms. Fellowes later found out, coincidentally, that emerald is the colour of hope and change in mythological terms”.
“The bag was another “lightbulb moment”. “Fellowes showed Colman pictures of Prada’s autumn/winter 2015 collection, and the vertical draped bows on the clothes reminded her of the garters British monarchs wear. At the actor’s request, Prada wove a subtle version of the royal token into the bag as a fun little nod to Colman’s next role as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown”.
Quotes from Vogue UK’s article
Take a look at Prada’s A/W 2015 Collection on Vogue.com