The 89th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre are Hollywood’s biggest night, but the event starts much earlier in the day, when the red carpet opens at 3 p.m. PST. The actresses attending began primping hours earlier, and their designer gowns have been in the works for weeks.
The hundreds of hours put in by tailors and seamstresses in couture ateliers paid off, as Emma Stone, Brie Larson, Nicole Kidman, Ruth Negga and Naomie Harris hit the magenta carpet in form-fitting, made to measure gowns by Givenchy Couture, Oscar de la Renta, Armani Privé, Valentino and Calvin Klein by Appointment, respectively.
Presenter Hailee Steinfeld, who floated onto the carpet in a pale silk Ralph & Russo gown appliquéd with delicate flowers, said, “It’s my favorite dress this season. I’m obsessed with it. It’s insane to think that six years ago I came to the Oscars for the first time and I’m here again, and I feel like just as much of a princess.” Of course she did. “Princess” is the single-most overused descriptor of Oscar gowns and the way they make the wearer feel, but it isn’t inaccurate, as most actresses do look like royalty on the big day.
“It does have some weight to it,” said newbie actress Sofia Boutella. She was referring to her crystal-encrusted Chanel Couture gown, but also the gravitas of the event (in Hollywood, at least). “I’m quite new to this world so I don’t know what to compare this to, but it’s pretty incredible. Who am I looking forward to meeting? Just…anyone.”
Other first-timers were equally awed. “It’s pretty mind-numbing,” said Australian actress Teresa Palmer, who was making her first Oscar appearance, wearing Prada, as part of the cast of Best Picture nominee “Hacksaw Ridge.” “I can’t believe I’m here, and it’s my birthday. Happy birthday to me!”
Indeed, most media in the crowd were searching for the fairer sex (although Matt Damon, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, eventual Best Supporting Actor winner Mahershala Ali and Ryan Gosling drew ear-splitting cheers from onlookers). “Javier, where’s your wife?” photographers yelled at Javier Bardem as he stepped up to the step-and-repeat. “I was wondering the same thing,” replied Bardem. “I haven’t seen her for a long time — 10 minutes.”
“Nicole! A ‘Lion’ roars!” a veteran reporter called to her. “More like a kitten,” she giggled. Moments later, she bumped into her fellow Best Supporting Actress nominee Viola Davis. “Hi! How are you?” she cried before grabbing husband Keith Urban’s hand to pose for photos.
“This is so f–king unbelievable,” said “Moonlight” star Ashton Sanders. He then paused for a moment and declared, “No man, this is crazy.”