The glamorous return of awards season fashion: 'Everybody's ready to celebrate'


Is glamour making a return to red carpet fashion? Pictured here is Amanda Seyfried styled by Elizabeth Stewart for this year's Golden Globes. Photo: Instagram/Elizabeth Stewart

When Nick Jonas announced the Oscar nominations alongside his wife, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, last month, he glistened in a gold silk Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo.

"The awards shows, particularly the Oscars, feel like a long-awaited embrace we've all been waiting for," says his stylist Avo Yermagyan. "It's a glimmer of what life was like before the world came to a screeching halt. So I wanted to be optimistic in my styling of that moment."

The "sunny yellow" look was his testament to the world coming alive again.

"There's a sense of hopefulness we've all been filled with," says Yermagyan, who'd tried to reflect the pandemic's severity at the onset of virtual events.

"Initially, we were all very cautious to be mindful of the tone of what we were doing, so being a little more reserved when it came to jewelry choices, etc. But to balance that, we also are giving people a bit of escapism, beauty and levity – which we all need.

"So I think as the awards season is progressing, people are opening up to taking bigger chances and bolder swings."

Yermagyan took a cue from One Night In Miami in dressing Leslie Odom Jr.

"I felt like the men were such changemakers in their time, so I didn't want to play it safe with the styling," he says.

Read more: Upcoming Oscars to offer 'a little bit of sparkle' on the red carpet

For the Globes, Odom paired a chocolate-brown wool Valentino haute couture suit with a neon-green turtleneck.

"I tried to nod to the 60s with the cuts and colours of the suiting, but I still wanted to pack an unexpected punch with the underpinnings and accessories."

The striped Celine Homme suit and ruffle-collared shirt Odom wore to the Critics' Choice Awards represented Yermagyan's "subtle nod to Hamilton".

"It could have gone a little too literal or costumey, so I chose to offset it with those chunky layered chain necklaces," he says. "The necklaces made the look less polite and more punk."

For the SAG Awards, Odom debuted a green and fuchsia Berluti suit that Yermagyan described on Instagram as "a watermelon amuse-bouche".

"All the rules of red-carpet dressing are being rewritten," says Yermagyan, who's embraced being able to stage photos and control the narrative of his looks. "After a year of being at home, there's a new kind of creativity. All of us – from the actors to the stylists – we're all being unleashed."

Elizabeth Stewart, who styles Oscar nominees Viola Davis and Amanda Seyfried, also appreciates the new creative freedom.

"When you take out the context of an actual red carpet and actually having to leave the house, anything really goes," she says. "It's been fun to see people in pyjamas or fabulous headpieces."

With Davis, Stewart's taken a "celebratory and happy" approach.

"If we are going to do awards season, let's do it in the best possible way, especially by supporting the fashion industry and designers who have been so hard-hit by the pandemic," Stewart says.

For the Globes, Davis wore a brightly patterned Lavie by CK look, made with fabric from designer Claude Kameni's native Cameroon.

"Viola wanted a designer that spoke to her specifically as a Black woman. She wanted to rethink red-carpet glamour in the age of more diversity and inclusivity."

Davis followed it up with a turquoise Greta Constantine gown for the Critics' Choice Awards, a peppy floral Duro Olowu frock for the NAACP Image Awards and a winning electric-lime Louis Vuitton SAG Awards look.

In dressing Seyfried, Stewart took her surroundings into account.

"Amanda's Globes look was influenced by the fact she was in Savannah, Georgia," says Stewart of the coral Oscar De La Renta gown. "We envisioned the floral dress in that setting of cobblestone streets and moss trees."

Read more: Fashion in pictures: All bright and beautiful at the SAG Awards 2021

While Stewart stays true to Seyfried's personal style, she felt inspired by "the high bar set by the 'Mank' costume design".

"It's fun to think, 'Would Marion Davies wear this if she was alive today?'"

Also cinematically inspired, stylist Law Roach intended Anya Taylor-Joy's shimmering green Globes gown as "a tiny nod to Anya's character Beth from The Queen's Gambit".

"I wanted it to feel like it could have been one of her costumes," says Roach of the retro look complete with cape, custom-designed by Dior. "If you think about glamour and sophistication, Dior is probably one of the first couturiers you think of."

Taylor-Joy wore another Dior dress, in berry-toned tulle, for the Critics' Choice Awards, and Roach's client Zendaya donned an orange-hot Valentino number.

"The gigantic ball skirt with that white tank top was just so modern and young and really had cool-girl vibes," says Roach, who's styled the Malcolm & Marie star for 10 years and also designed costumes for the movie.

Roach strives for "take-your-breath-away moments". For the SAG Awards, he styled Kerry Washington in an Etro patterned dress with matching cap and Aldis Hodge in a three-piece Dolce & Gabbana jacquard suit.

"It's all about the way the clothes make me feel, and I pass that emotion on to the clients," he says.

Stylist Jason Bolden hopes his awards looks with Cynthia Erivo uplift.

"We really wanted to have fun and bring some joy and some fantasy back in the midst of everything we've been going through," he says.

When Bolden saw Valentino's Spring 2021 couture collection with piercing hues and towering metallic platforms, he thought: "This is a Cynthia collection."

He secured two dresses – a pearl-embellished hooded design for her A Grammy Salute performance, and her neon-green futuristic Globes look.

Erivo deemed the latter "divine" – and immediately tried on the shoes, exclaiming,"They feel like sneakers!"

"It was the full look from the runway," says Bolden. "It was fun, it was fantasy. It was also kind of an ode to her now, being a fairy in Pinocchio."

For the Grammys, Bolden was inspired by Erivo's role of Aretha Franklin in NatGeo's Genius.

"What Aretha and Cynthia have in common is their love of fashion and being very out there when it came to choices of how they wanted to do things and being very bold, so that was an easy thing to lean into," he says.

The Grammy-nominated star was eager to dress up, so Bolden collaborated with Louis Vuitton on the "magical" gold-and-silver sequined showstopper.

"That was an ode to Aretha and also this play off of this Nubian princess."

Read more: From extravagant to quirky, it's fashion as usual for this year's Grammys

With Yara Shahidi, Bolden always looks for "the hardest dress to wear in a collection". The embroidered Dior Couture look she wore to the Critics' Choice Awards was the only option they considered.

"It was super playful, it had this Cirque Du Soleil vibe and was also an ode to her being Tinkerbell," he says. "Again, everything goes back to bringing a little bit of calm to the chaos right now, giving some fantasy, and that's what that look was for Yara."

This awards season, Bolden believes people are taking fashion "to the max".

"Everybody's ready to celebrate themselves and have fun and sit in the chair and laugh with their glam teams," says Bolden, who's looking forward to some iconic glamour at the Oscars.

"For me, I hope that people really create that Hollywood moment – the thing that we crave and that gets us excited and gives us hope and possibility." – Jasmin Rosemberg/Reuters

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