Ariana DeBose rounded out her historic awards season on Sunday night at the 2022 Oscars, where she picked up her first Academy Award for her role as Anita in “West Side Story,” making her the first openly LGBTQ person and Afro-Latina woman to win the award for Best Supporting Actress.
DeBose celebrated her landmark win in yet another standout fashion moment thanks to her stylists Zadrian Smith and Sarah Edmiston, who dressed the star in a custom red Valentino pantsuit with a matching cape that captivated spectators on the red carpet.
“The red was kind of subconsciously telling,” Smith explained. “We did yellow [at the Critics’ Choice and BAFTAs], which was an homage to Anita, and then the red came back in and we paid homage to Anita with a red moment. We wanted to fuse masculine and feminine elements, so the cape and the bralette gave it the feminine mystique, and the trousers were strong and courageous like a suit moment.”
Smith explained the look was authentic to DeBose’s style, which helped it resonate with spectators.
“What you saw on the red carpet was something that was so Ariana DeBose,” he said. “That’s why it was so special because it’s her, it was really her.”
Valentino has been a go-to brand for DeBose starting from right before her “West Side Story” press tour late last year. Smith explained that Valentino and creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli were one of the first major houses to work with the actress when others weren’t as accepting of the newcomer.
“[Valentino] was on the bandwagon before the train had even gotten out of the park and started driving, you know what I mean?” he said. “They never made Ariana feel like she was a token, and trust me there were some brands where it was just really cringe worthy how they said no to us in the beginning and then all of a sudden you want to open the doors and give us everything. It’s just not genuine.”
DeBose kicked off awards season at the 2022 SAG Awards wearing a fuchsia dress with a draped back detailing from Valentino’s spring 2022 couture collection. For Critics’ Choice and BAFTAs, she paid tribute to her Latin roots by wearing gowns by Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera. Both yellow dresses were also meant as an homage to DeBose’s character Anita, who wears a yellow dress in the movie.
After the Oscars, DeBose changed into a custom Mônot black mini dress with a bow detailing on the back, which Smith explained was a way to close this chapter of DeBose’s style.
“We wanted to close out with black and it was a little bit scary and a little bit brave, but we put a bow on the back,” he said. “So, if she were to win the Oscar it would be a nice way to say we wrapped it all up and put it in a bow. By the grace of God, she won, so the narrative made sense.”
Smith and Edmiston also styled “Aladdin” star Naomi Scott on Sunday night, dressing her in a Fendi spring 2022 couture gown for the Oscars and a black cut out Armani dress at the Vanity Fair after party.
The stylist reflected on what it meant to him to be a part of DeBose’s historic moment and the greater significance of her Oscars win.
“[Edmiston and I] said to each other that hopefully we’ll have another opportunity to have an Oscar nominee and possibly an Oscar winner,” he said. “But, if I never style another person in my life, if I never do another red carpet, I can happily say that I would be OK with that because last night just culminated so many things. My career as a stylist has not been easy as a Black man, as a gay man. This is not an industry that embraces me really ever. To be given that chance by Ariana — who is a woman of color and a queer woman — who has also had pretty much the same experiences that I’ve had but just in Hollywood, it’s just so incredibly powerful that it took someone who was cut from the same cloth as me to see me and Sarah and then say, ‘Let’s rise together.’”
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