It was a big night for Doja Cat at Sunday night’s American Music Awards as she won New Artist of the Year, beating Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby, Roddy Ricch, Lewis Capaldi and DaBaby. The 25-year-old breakout star, who also won for Favorite Female Artist Soul/R&B, was dressed for the occasion in a Vivienne Westwood gown styled by her creative director and stylist Brett Nelson. The pair have worked together for roughly a year and a half, most recently debuting Matthew Williams for Givenchy on the red carpet at the 2020 MTV European Music Awards. WWD chatted with Nelson over e-mail on Sunday night for the behind-the-scenes take on Doja Cat’s look.
WWD: How did you settle on this for tonight?
Brett Nelson: Doja and I have always tried to create looks that are different and catch people’s eye, even if it’s not the “norm” — everyone expects a sexy mesh dress with crystals. The Westwood team reached out to me directly about dressing Doja for future events and I knew in that moment I wanted the two dresses that she wore tonight. I have loved Vivienne Westwood since I was quite young. She is the original punk— and ever since Andreas [Kronthaler] has been doing his collection under the label I have been obsessed.
WWD: What did you and Doja Cat discuss going into the night? What was the vibe you were going for?
B.N.: Since we weren’t performing one of her songs for the night we just wanted to have fun. I understand Doja so much; we have only worked together now for a little over a year, but I speak to her more than I speak to my own mother. She is the type of client I always dreamed of having. She is down to take risk and she loves fashion. Ninety-eight percent of the time I show her two things and she is like, “This is the look.”
WWD: What designers does she like/do you like to put her in?
B.N.: She’s always down to try something new. Doja is still technically a “new artist,” so in the past it’s been difficult to lock in those “big name designers” — these showrooms have such a tight list of who they “can” and “cannot” dress. But anyone who knows me well enough knows that no is not an answer for me — there is always a way. I always knew I wanted to grab the attention of these big brands and I had a plan on how to do it. We have had such a huge year and finally these brands are starting to notice her fashion. Most of these designers are huge fans of her music, so now people know it’s much more than a costume. She is sexy, her body is natural and she honestly can wear anything.
WWD: How has her style evolved?
B.N.: I’m so proud of my little Doja Cat. She has had a crazy year and not only has her style evolved from shopping on Amazon for costumes, but she personally is evolving everyday into an even more beautiful human than she already was. She is learning about fashion everyday and learning to appreciate it as an art.
WWD: Why is she someone for the fashion industry to watch?
B.N.: Doja takes risk, and looks beautiful in anything. She is a brand. She is different and absolutely stunning. Honestly, if brands say no to me, I move on because there are about 50 other brands that are knocking on my door to dress her.
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