On Sunday morning, Hollywood awoke to the news of the sudden passing of fashion designer Alber Elbaz, who died at 59 in Paris from COVID-19. The one-time creative director of Lanvin counted Natalie Portman, Kim Kardashian, Meryl Streep and Harry Styles among his A-list fans.
But just as the fashion world mourned the loss of an icon to the pandemic — a harsh reminder that the virus is still wreaking havoc across the globe — it simultaneously provided a wondrous, fleeting respite from the realities of the last year in the form of a glamorous, socially distanced red carpet at the 93rd annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon.
A memo sent out to attendees outlined the dress code for the occasion as “inspirational and aspirational,” heralding a return to the magic of a live ceremony after months of mostly virtual awards shows and Zoom fatigue. Coinciding with progress on the vaccine rollout and an overall decline in COVID-19 transmission numbers, a scaled-back Oscars red carpet and show, held at Union Station in downtown L.A., delivered on that celebratory promise.
From the custom cobalt blue Dundas jumpsuit and hooded cape worn by best original song winner H.E.R. to “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” star Colman Domingo’s electric pink hand-beaded Atelier Versace suit, bold and vibrant colors dominated the carpet, as if to signal a brighter future as pandemic restrictions continue to lift. “[Colman’s look] is inspirational with its beautiful color and it symbolizes happiness and joy,” says Wayman Bannerman, one half of the styling duo Wayman + Micah, along with Micah McDonald. “And the aspiration comes from the fact that it’s all hand-done beading and it took 140 hours to make.”
Self-expression was also on full display, as seen with the likes of supporting actor nominee LaKeith Stanfield, who confidently stepped out in an androgynous, disco-ready custom Saint Laurent jumpsuit. “LaKeith is so playful,” says his stylist Julie Ragolia, who worked with designer Anthony Vaccarello and the Saint Laurent team to customize Stanfield’s ensemble featuring a belted waist and white shirt with oversize lapels — a riff on a Saint Laurent jumpsuit from Vaccarello’s Spring 2021 womenswear collection that had caught Ragolia’s eye.