Alexander McQueen Dresses, Christian Dior Bag
Alexander McQueen Dresses, Christian Dior Bag

McQueen, Gucci, Dior: How To Style A Red Carpet-Worthy Look

Words by Noelani Piters | 2.4.20

Glamour. Gowns. Getting noticed. These days, the red carpet is almost as significant as the awards show. The cascade of couture-studded stars has become an event in and of itself — who hasn’t tuned in early to catch the style elite in action, chatting about their outfits and the excitement of it all? Who hasn’t dreamed of dazzling the public with tulle, lace and hundreds of sequins?

While being judged by the masses might not be everyone’s fantasy, looking like the most elegant version of yourself is a very relatable goal. And even if you weren’t nominated for an award this year, you can still join the ranks of best-dressed for date night or your next black-tie affair. (Bonus, you’ll be achieving the look sustainably by shopping luxury resale!) Merchandising Manager Noelle Sciacca breaks down styling a red carpet ensemble, fantasizes about the one star she’d love to dress and reveals the oft-forgotten secret of personal style. Take notes and you’ll be snapped by the paparazzi in no time.

What are the essential elements of a red carpet look?

Noelle Sciacca: The key to a successful red carpet look is to incorporate one statement element. It can be the dress, a jazzy blazer, killer shoes, jewelry or even your hair and makeup. 

Gucci Dress, Gucci Clutch

Mirror a dress’ colorful focal point with a bright clutch.

Red carpet dress or suit, check! Next up: what’s the best method of accessorizing?

NS: When it comes to personal style, there are no rules. However, a lot of red carpet looks are about achieving balance. If your dress has a colorful focal point, like the embroidered flowers on the above floor-length Gucci gown, consider a bright clutch for a burst of color. The repetition of embroidered flowers makes the look feel cohesive — the floral clutch ties back to the gold and fuchsia detailing at the dress’ shoulders.

From a trend perspective, we’ve stopped frowning upon outfits and accessories that are too matchy-matchy, having fully embraced monochrome. Incorporate accessories in the same color palette for a chic tonal look, but mix eras and styles to keep things interesting. Juxtapose an extra-feminine Alexander McQueen ballgown, for example, with tonal pointed-toe shoes like the Balenciaga knife pumps for an ’80s prom queen vibe. 

Alexander McQueen Dress

A stunning backless dress like this Alexander McQueen piece calls for hair up and sparkling statement earrings.

How would you style a dress with impactful design details?

NS: A backless dress, like the straight-from-the-runway Alexander McQueen dress above, calls for a loose ponytail or romantic updo and statement earrings. A sapphire and diamond pair à la Gavello will highlight your features without competing for attention with the dress’ intricate lace embroidery. A silver Saint Laurent Kate bag will balance out both the diamonds and the dress’ reflective sequins. It will keep the eye moving without detracting from the backless design feature’s wow factor.

Saint Laurent Bag, Alexander McQueen Dress, Gavello Earrings

Saint Laurent Kate Bag; Alexander McQueen Runway Lace Dress; Gavello Diamond Drop Earrings

What are your top 5 brands for red carpet dresses? 

NS: I love the classic design houses like Alexander McQueen, Armani and Dior who have decades of experience crafting pieces specifically for the red carpet. Brandon Maxwell and Rosie Assoulin are newer brands to the award show scene, and they bring an unexpected twist to black-tie elegance. 

Are there any celebrities who always get their red carpet look right?

NS: Diane Kruger is my ultimate red carpet icon. Her looks are always modern yet elegant — a new Hollywood glamour. Over the last few years Zendaya has risen to the top as a style standout. She’s never afraid to experiment with color and silhouettes. 

At The Grammys, Billie Eilish’s bedazzled Gucci pantsuit caught everyone’s attention. While sneakers aren’t common on the red carpet, the look further cemented the marriage of streetwear and luxury fashion. 

Who would you love to style for the Oscars?

NS: I’d love to dress Laura Dern for the Oscars. Although she’s a Hollywood veteran, she’s having a newfound moment in the spotlight and there’s no doubt it’s her time to shine. The ruffled pantsuit from Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2020 runway has a perfect blend of masculine and feminine details. It’s a stunning power piece that would flatter her body type and pair well with a gold Oscar award. 

Bottega Veneta Bag, Alexander McQueen Dress

Bottega Veneta The Sponge Clutch; Alexander McQueen Embellished Gown; 14K Gold Door Knocker Earrings

What’s your tip for making classic silhouettes feel more of-the-moment?

NS: Playing with texture is a great way to breathe new life into a more traditional red carpet dress. This Alexander McQueen embellished gown is timeless. It boasts embroidering, beading and crystal accents throughout, and is actually my top pick for a red carpet dress. The Pouch by Bottega Veneta was the breakout accessory of the year, and this updated version, The Sponge, complements the gown’s burgundy beadwork, adding to the texture play in the overall look.

Alexander McQueen Dress

Noelle Sciacca recommends styling this incredibly detailed Alexander McQueen dress with a Bottega Veneta bag and gold earrings.

What’s your best advice for finding red carpet-worthy items?

NS: This award season, we’ve done the work for you and curated an edit of the best clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry on the site as well as in our West Hollywood store. In the off season, I suggest shopping the women’s evening section to find glamorous pieces from both storied and emerging designers.

It’s your time to shine. Shop our red carpet edit now.

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