Getting “Oscar” Ready

By: Danielle Paquette-Special to CNN

Less than a week before The Academy Awards, Scarlett Johansson had yet to make a starlet’s most scrutinized fashion decision: Her Oscar dress.

Her stylist, the renowned celebrity dresser Nicole Chavez, wasn’t worried. Tight deadlines are as common as paparazzi in this industry.

“What it comes down to is — may the best dress win,” said Chavez, whose clients include Rachel Bilson, Kristen Bell and Katherine Heigl. “I stay organized and maintain close relationships with designers and colleagues, so it’s more fun than stressful.”

Johansson, who was asked to present an Oscar two weeks ago, was measured for a gown four days before the event. Chavez, who researches styles from around the globe, asked: What silhouette? What color? What designer?

“My goal was to make her feel beautiful, happy and comfortable,” she said. “Find the perfect fit.”

Award show culture demands uber-chic attendees, said Chavez. Resplendent, cutting-edge garbs are expected, or style-driven media like E!’s Fashion Police assault a celebrity’s outfit with snarky quips.

“Just because she likes rainbow sherbet doesn’t mean she has to dress like one,” Joan Rivers said of actress Hailee¬†Steinfeld’s dress after the Screen Actors Guild awards in January. “I mean, I don’t dress like Metamucil and prunes.”

Chavez strives to keep her clients off the “Worst Dressed” lists. Even with the pressure of the world watching, she said the “getting ready” process before the annual show is lighthearted.

Johansson, who prefers the designs of Elie Saab, Dolce & Gabbana and Oscar de la Renta, will likely be surrounded by friends and family, sipping wine and taking pictures.

Chavez, like a close girlfriend, will zip her flowing, complicated gown and arrange matching accessories.”It’s comparable to a wedding day,” she said. “Everyone will just be having a good time.”

After the Oscars, the fate of an actress’ attire is often similar to a bride’s wedding dress: never to be worn again.

Some custom-made styles worth “tens of thousands of dollars” are returned to designers the next morning, Chavez said.

But 80% of the time, her clients get to keep the dress.

“After the designers make something so special for an actress, they ‘gift’ the dresses,” she said. “The dresses get so much press, so who could really wear them again?” After a dress is gifted, some celebrities donate their famous threads to charity.


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