LOS ANGELES — In matters of red-carpet style, the reasons a star decides on one dress over another may be as trivial as her mood hours before an awards show. But in the case of Julia Roberts, the champagne satin silk gown she wore to Sunday’s Academy Awards was a pre-meditated secret tribute to the late Katharine Hepburn, whom she posthumously honored during the televised event.

After learning she would be the one doing the honors during the show, Roberts contacted Giorgio Armani to talk frocks. She wanted something inspired by her heroine, and she knew Armani shared her enthusiasm for Hepburn, who died last June.

In fact, it was during the assignment that the designer says he had an epiphany of sorts. “Researching Katharine Hepburn made me realize how Julia and Kate share such singular style and similar attitudes,” said Armani Wednesday. “Kate always did what she wanted, and wore what she liked — just like Julia. In other words, Kate was to her generation what Julia is to hers — a force of nature and a template upon which so many women confidently model themselves.”

Evidently Hepburn also saw something in Roberts. Robert Triefus, executive vice president for worldwide communications at Armani SpA, recalled bumping into biographer A. Scott Berg, author of “Kate Remembered,” this past weekend at the Barry Diller-Diane von Furstenberg picnic. “Scott said he remembered the time he was with Ms. Hepburn watching ‘Mystic Pizza,’ and she looked at Julia and said, ‘Now, she is the future.’”

Of the five options Armani offered Roberts, she chose two — including the winning gown inspired by Hepburn’s turn in 1940’s “The Philadelphia Story.” The vintage broach came from Armani’s own archives.

Although intended as a one-off, that may have to change. The Giorgio Armani doors on Rodeo Drive and on Madison Avenue received a deluge of calls since the broadcast, admitted Triefus. “Mr. Armani is contemplating whether to go into production with it or not, because it was a one-of-a-kind, specially made for Julia. But it just shows how the style of these two actresses continues to inspire.”

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