Sisterrs Nicole and Wendi Ferreira peruse gowns for actress Octavia Spencer. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)
In certain circles, the Oscars red carpet generates more buzz than the awards ceremony itself. That two-hour window when stars stroll, preen and gush often showcases the results of hours and hours of prepping by a team of experts tasked with readying their client to face a sea of photographers and impromptu interviews — to say nothing of the worldwide TV audience and the crush of off-camera media in critique mode.
For an event as big as this one, that team often includes a fashion stylist, tailor, hairdresser and makeup artist. Their work may have begun months ago, starting with the stylist combing through images from designer collections online or jetting to New York or European ateliers to lend input to custom creations. Here's a look at some of the people behind the scenes whose work will be on display Sunday as actors glide down the red carpet for the main event and its attendant parties.
Wendi and Nicole Ferreira | celebrity fashion stylists
"We live at Barneys; it's like our living room," says celebrity stylist Nicole Ferreira, who, along with her sister Wendi, is in charge of dressing supporting actress nominee Octavia Spencer, who has been raking in awards all season for her role in "The Help." (Other clients include Elizabeth Banks, Channing Tatum, Chris Pine and Sheryl Crow.)
On a recent visit, the duo is grabbing heels from the department store's first floor shoe section for a client attending a premiere abroad — just one of more than half a dozen jobs they are juggling. In addition to shepherding Spencer through awards season, they have multiple movie premieres for Tatum and Pine and parties and press for Banks.
"Right now, we are spending most days jetting from fitting to store," Wendi Ferreira says. Although shopping is fun, she says, keeping track of multiple clients' clothes is challenging. "We have to stay organized. I'll say OK, the front seat [of the car] is for Elizabeth, the middle seat is for Octavia, to the right is Chris," she says — showing the way they keep garment bags organized on a busy day of picking up clothing.
"We definitely feel extra pressure during awards season," she says. "It's such an international audience. And really, there's only about 10 women each year who go to the Oscars and are really in the spotlight." This year, Spencer is one of the 10.
The duo met the actress in June a couple of months before "The Help" was released and quickly got to know that "she has a really strong, good opinion on what she likes," Wendi Ferreira says.
Since their initial meeting, the sisters have been robing the actress in a mix of custom and off-the-rack dresses from Los Angeles-based designer Tadashi Shoji, who they say has a wide variety of styles that fit Spencer well. Among the notable looks were a teal wrap gown she wore to the NAACP Image Awards; a V-neck, ruched front lavender gown to the Golden Globes and a shimmery silver gown with an embroidered bodice and draped skirt to the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
They agree that their favorite look for Spencer so far was her Golden Globes gown, a custom-made number based on a sleeveless Tadashi cocktail dress. "It was the first custom gown made for her," Nicole Ferreira says. "We all collaborated with Tadashi to come up with the color, sleeve, length and final design. The Irene Neuwirth jewelry completed the look and brought the whole thing together."
The Ferreiras have been working on Spencer's Oscar dress since nominations were announced in January, meeting with her once a week since then. Though they can't divulge any details, the styling team says that, like the rest of Spencer's red carpet looks this year, the focus will be on fit and comfort. "Octavia's style has been about flattering her figure and what makes her roll her shoulders back and feel beautiful and gives her an extra sparkle," Wendi Ferreira says. "That's how you can tell when a client loves a dress and that's how you know, that's the dress."
Ludmilla Tomashevskay | tailor
At every fitting for an actress' Oscar gown or actor's tux, there is a tailor ready to nip in even the tiniest portion of fabric or rework a dress entirely to suit the vision of the stylist and celebrity.
"Gowns are supposed to fit like a glove," says Ludmilla Tomashevskay, one of Hollywood's go-to tailors. "They need to be exact and perfect, and that requires a lot of work. Most of our customers have beautiful bodies, and we really have to sculpt the dress to their bodies."