Emma Stone’s Awards Season Style WAS her Oscar Campaign


Emma Stone’s Awards Season Style WAS her Oscar Campaign

Heading Composite 1 Lee Drop Capo actress has had more red carpet wins this season than Emma Stone, and for good reason: the actress was nominated for, and won, just about every major acting award for her performance as fledgling actress Mia in Damien Chazelle’s musical La La Land, including the coveted Best Actress Academy Award. Winning an Oscar is considered a lucrative asset to any acting career, so much so that actors and their representatives will spend millions on “For Your Consideration” ad campaigns, which encourage Academy voters to nominate, and then eventually vote to select, a given actor or actress for the honor. Such campaigns can backfire, however, if they are too overt, and leave a bad taste in the mouths of the voters and the public; although she did go on to win the 2011 Best Supporting Actress Oscar, Melissa Leo’s brazen, cleavage-centric FYC ads caused considerable backlash.

Emma Stone, however, found a way to subvert the risk of a blase ad campaign by opting for an ingenious, and arguably more impactful, approach. Actresses and other public figures have long had the option of publicly parading around in designer gowns to drum up press coverage. But Stone—or, perhaps more accurately, her stylist Petra Flannery—took this tactic a step further, turning the outfits she wore at her many public appearances leading up to the Oscars into a subtle series of allusions to both iconic Hollywood eras AND the ensembles of past Best Actress winners, subconsciously painting her, in the minds of voters, as “Best Actress” material. It’s a nudge that the 29-year-old Stone, who made her name in Hollywood not in the drama films that the Oscars usually favor, but as an awkwardly endearing fixture of teen comedies like Superbad, Zombieland, and Easy A, might have needed to clinch her status as a “serious” actress, and the coveted golden statue, in the minds of Academy voters. Just as her film La La Land referenced multiple decades of Hollywood history, with few viewers being capable of catching all of the multifarious allusions, Stone’s pre-Oscars looks draw upon past showbiz style without alerting onlookers to their imitation.

Officious Selections

It all started over a year before La La Land’s release, when Stone appeared at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival premiere of her Woody Allen-directed film, An Irrational Man, in a cool white backless number accessorized with a simple silver choker.

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It’s a look reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn’s iconic high-necked white lace Givenchy Oscar gown, which Anne Hathaway channeled when she won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Les Miserables in 2014. Gwyneth Paltrow also rocked a thin-straps-and-choker combo when she won the Best Actress Oscar for Shakespeare in Love in 1999.

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But when Stone hit the festival circuit the next year to promote La La Land, the string of outfits alluding to different eras of Hollywood history continued. She stepped out at the Toronto International Film Festival in a 60s-esque butter-colored minidress.

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The combination of voluminous hair, headband, heavily winged eyeliner and the yellow minidress called to mind a toned-down version of Marlo Thomas, star of the ABC TVseries That Girl and a quintessential 60s fashion plate who, although she never won the Oscar for Best Actress, was nominated for, and won, several Emmy and Golden Globe awards. From lemon to canary to mustard, saying yellow was “her color” is kind of an understatement.

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At La La Land’s Denver Film Festival premier, Stone wore an tea-length Chanel dress with a prominent flower applique. She later chose another black gown that similarly mixed lace and florals for the SAG awards.

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The Denver Film Festival dress is strikingly similar in both cut and floral applique placement to the black gown worn by 1932 Best Actress Winner Helen Hayes to that year’s ceremony.

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While the little black dress has been a Best Actress winner mainstay—with arguably 20 of the past winners wearing an ensemble that was at least partially black on Oscar night—the concept of florals have an Oscars history all their own. Olivia de Havilland wore demure, delicately floral-embroidered gowns to accept both of her Oscars—first in 1947, then in 1950—as did Elizabeth Taylor for her win in 1961, while Halle Berry’s choice of a burgundy Ellie Saab gown, which featured a sheer top with strategically placed floral embroidery, turned heads when she became the first African American to win Best Actress in 2004.

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The (Press) Tour-de-Force

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The pleated blue jewel-toned and -embellished dress Stone wore to the Los Angeles premiere of La La Land was similar in hue to not one but two of the dresses she wore in two particularly blue-tinted scenes of the film, and served as the exception that proves the rule in terms of her Awards season dress choices in that it was decidedly more modern, defying any direct comparison to dresses of Hollywood decades past …

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… But speaking of modern, who could forget the also pleated, also blue, also heavily embellished gown that Brie Larson, the most recent Best Actress winner, wore to the ceremony just this past year? 😉

Brie Larson Blue Dress

 At the film’s New York premiere, Stone opted for an effortless beige slip dress. Coupled with a matching structured blazer—and the fact that Stone brought Hollywood’s resident female bro Jennifer Lawrence, a 2013 Best Actress winner herself, as her date—the look is nearly a dead ringer for the off-white Armani menswear ensemble that Jodie Foster donned for her 1991 Best Actress win for Silence of the Lambs, down to the loose, shoulder-length waves that the two actresses share.

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At La La Land’s London premiere, by contrast, Emma cranked the glam factor up to ten in a slinky burgundy number with matching lips and a side swept ‘do.

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The look screamed old school Hollywood glamour, but its closest antecedent is actually Jessica Rabbit, an iconic animated character from the 1998 Disney film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, known for her figure-hugging red dress, red lips, and red hair. Jessica Rabbit, however, had more than one real-life Hollywood inspiration: the first being Veronica Lake, a ’40s screen siren whose name has become synonymous with her eye-hiding hairstyle, which Emma is far from the first to imitate, as well as Vikki Dougan, a ’50s pinup-turned-actress who became known for crashing Hollywood parties wearing custom-made dresses featuring plunging open backs. Both, like Stone, were redheads who weren’t afraid to wear the color as well.

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Awards Cheesin’ 

Then came the final award show stretch: The Golden Globes, followed by the Oscars. At the former, Stone hit the red carpet in a star-spangled beige and silver halter gown with vintage Tiffany jewels, the perfect homage to the La La Land’s “City of Stars” theme, and the perfect dress in which to take home the Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical Golden Globe Award, widely thought to be a good predictor of the Best Actress Oscar. It wasn’t the first time this awards season that Stone stepped out in silver, though. She showed off shimmery silver ensembles at both the Venice Film Festival and the BAFTA Awards (and took home Best Actress awards at both events).

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Back in the days of black-and-white film, any light-colored gown that was embellished appeared silver onscreen. Ginger Rogers, to whom Stone could also be compared for her signature light-red-hair-and-red-lip combo, was arguably the queen of these looks in the 1930s movie musical genre (and it certainly only aids the comparison that Stone’s La La Land dance partner Ryan Gosling parts his hair like Rogers’ longtime onscreen musical love interest, Fred Astaire).

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A film icon of several decades, Rogers won the Best Actress Oscar in 1941 for her performance in Kitty Foyle, and some have even speculated that we refer to redheads like Emma as “gingers” because Ginger Rogers was one of the first redhead actresses to appear in color photographs.

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But “silver” and “sparkly” has also been the dress type of choice for many a recent Best Actress Oscar winner, from Charlize Theron in Gucci (2004) to Reese Witherspoon in a 1955 Vintage Dior (2006) to Marion Cotillard in Jean Paul Gautier (2008) to Sandra Bullock in Marchesa (2010) and Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé (2012).

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It’s fitting that Stone wore silver to the Golden Globes, though, rather than the Academy Awards, as they are considered the second-most prestigious of the Awards shows next to the Oscars, at which Stone both wore, and took home, the gold.

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While the Givenchy dress—with its combination of 1920s flapper fringe, lace, and shimmery embroidery—was clearly the culmination of Stone’s ensemble-based, Old Hollywood-referent Oscars campaign, two months prior there was perhaps a more telling sartorial sign of having—quite literally—cemented her status as modern-day Hollywood royalty.

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When Stone and Gosling were invited to press their handprints in the cement outside of Grauman’s famous theater in Hollywood in December, she wore a yellow dress extremely similar to the now-infamous one that her character wears in La La Land during an old-fashioned tap scene, hence referencing a character in a then-yet-to-be-released homage to old Hollywood movie musicals that she later received the Best Actress Oscar for playing! Pretty clever, and meta, huh?

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Ok, so maybe it’s the least convincing part of the theory. But we’d expect nothing less genius from Stone, the woman who just flawlessly executed the most subtle, style-based, and successful Academy Award campaign in history.

Images courtesy of: (1, 2, 3), (1, 2, 3), (1, 2), (1, 2), (1, 2, 3), (1, 2, 3), (1, 2, 3), (1, 2), (1, 2), (1, 2, 3, 4), (1, 2, 3), (1, 2, 3, 4), (1), (1, 2, 3), (1, 2), (1, 2, 3, 4), (1, 2, 3, 4), (1, 2, 3), (1, 2), (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), (1, 2, 3), (1, 2, 3), (1).


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