Laverne Cox chose Naeem Khan for tonight’s Emmy Awards, where she’s nominated for Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role in “Orange Is the New Black.” Stylist Christina Pacelli said the gown — which has been three months in the making — is “a modern, Art Deco, futuristic, sophisticated and edgy look” for the actress.
“Laverne is not a sample size, so we have to start the planning process with much greater lead time than another woman in Hollywood who is,” says Pacelli, who has worked with Cox for four years. About three months ago, the two sat down and spent a few hours going through a list Pacelli had compiled of her favorite runway looks. The Naeem Khan gown was an instant hit.
“When [Cox] saw this gown for the first time, her breath was taken,” says Pacelli. “She was immediately awestruck, fell in love with everything about it and the idea of this dress in gun metal — it showed in gold on the runway.” Cox hadn’t worn that hue before, but Pacelli said both of them were eager for her try it. “Laverne’s skin tone looks great with this shade of gun metal. She could see that vision when we sat down together.”
The gown features intricate beading, which took Khan’s teams in India and New York extra time to complete. But to Pacelli and Cox, it was well worth the wait.
“I engage a designer to start to make a custom gown at least three months in advance of any carpet that she does,” Pacelli explained. “Creating a custom gown can take months and sometimes a year. She wore a white suit on Friday night for the Emmys party — that look took one year to come together. We’re very patient and we work really closely with the designers who are willing and excited to work with us.” Cox’s first fitting for the dress took place less than a week ago.
The ensemble also incorporates a pair of Lorraine Schwartz earrings. “It’s not easy to find gunmetal [jewelry] and Lorraine Schwartz makes such artful pieces that would really make a statement,” said Pacelli. “This dress calls for a statement earring and of course, Lorraine is a master at that. We worked together at looking at some amazing one-of-a-kind options with jade and oxidized diamonds.”
The shoes are custom, too, as Cox’s feet are not sample size, either. Pacelli said the gunmetal heels feature a “chrome ball detail” and match “the fierceness of the dress.”
“Laverne is open about the fact that she’s not a sample size woman in Hollywood,” Pacelli continued. “Her body is beautiful, she embraces that, but we have to work on custom things because samples are what is available to us and it doesn’t work for everyone. We celebrate the fact that she’s a beautiful woman with a beautiful body.”