Before I get to the blog week in review, I need to share Elizabeth Paton’s New York Times story about how Best Actress winner Olivia Colman got her custom-made Prada gown for the ceremony — even though she is 45 and not a size zero. This story answers nearly all of the questions I asked in my pre-Oscars video about celebrities who expect free designer looks. If you need to refresh your memory, here’s the video.
Now it’s question-and-answer time.
- Was Colman working with a stylist? Yes, Mary Fellowes.
- Did she have a good working relationship with the stylist? Yes, they started working together a year before the Oscars.
- Was the stylist well-connected? I’d say working for 11 Vogue titles and dressing Tracee Ellis Ross, Liv Tyler, and Amy Adams is a rather impressive resume.
- What were they looking for and from whom? As far as I can tell they were looking to borrow clothes from prestige design houses.
- Was there a lack of interest in Colman? Was it due to sizeism? Yes, there was a lack of interest that Fellowes attributes to sizeism, as she should. It would be undiplomatic to suggest that the lack of interest for the first half of 2018 was due to the fact that Colman was promoting Murder on the Orient Express which has a 59% “Rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
- Can a talented stylist get you dressed for numerous occasions even if you’re not a size zero and your movie is mediocre? Yes! The Times said Fellowes “contacted Deborah Milner, the former head of the Alexander McQueen couture studio, to make a series of bespoke looks.” It doesn’t say if those were paid for but I’d hope so.
- Did Colman lose weight to fit into the sample sizes? The article makes no mention of a change in size, but there was a change in career status: In August 2018, Colman’s new movie, The Favourite came out to critical acclaim. It’s rated 93% “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, and Colman started getting awards-contender buzz around her performance as Queen Anne, one of the three lead characters, early on.
As the Times said:
“Suddenly, the balance of power had shifted and the two women found themselves able to pick and choose. So they raised the stakes. 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).”
- Did design houses still have business reasons to want to dress Colman now that she could afford to be picky? Obviously.
- Was the Oscar gown a big job? Fuck yes! As Paton reported, “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.”
That last bullet point makes me realize one thing that I didn’t state explicitly in the video. While I did say that smaller designers don’t have the financial or labor resources to pour into a project like this, that fact also explains why stylists constantly hit up the same well-financed luxury houses rather than casting a wider net. At the time The Favourite came out, Prada’s earnings were on the upswing after hitting a low point in 2016 … when the company only made $295 million on $3.39 billion in revenues. In other words, even at Prada’s worst, it could still dig some change out of the proverbial couch to pay for a promotional opportunity. All I’ve found in my couch recently was muffin crumbs.
I still have a few words to say about Oscar jewelry. I better get that done tomorrow or I’ll still be writing about the 2019 Oscars in 2020! For now, here’s what was on the blog this week:
- Monday, February 25: My Best Dressed/Wear What You Want winner for the 2019 Oscars, plus the pink floof trend.
- Wednesday, February 27: I jumped the gun on March’s Jewels of the Month, but I had a video!
- Thursday, February 28: My Carpe Diem designs feature skulls cut from single black diamonds.
- Friday, March 1: The lights are on at Saint Laurent.