Emmys: Jurnee Smollett Wears a Dior Dress Originally Made as a Miniature (Exclusive)
Jurnee Smollett enjoyed plenty of stylish moments as Leti Lewis on HBO’s Lovecraft Country , but for her first Emmy nomination, only haute couture would do, says her stylist, Alexandra Mandelkorn.
“We started talking as soon as she was nominated — not only Jurnee and myself, but with other members of her team as well,” Mandelkorn says. “Everything is a bit of a strategy, and we wanted to think big-picture about where we wanted to take her fashion career and who she is in the fashion world in this moment. With all that in mind, it definitely had to be haute couture.”
Nominated for outstanding lead actress in a drama, Smollett is wearing Dior Haute Couture, a strapless gown from Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Fall 2020 collection, which the designer presented as a short film in July 2020, with each dress crafted in miniature.
“What’s really cool about this collection from Dior is that it never had its moment on a runway or red carpet because it came out at the height of the pandemic,” Mandelkorn explains. “Because the whole collection was made in miniature, only a few of the dresses were made in human size, which makes it all the more special that this design also can have its red-carpet moment.”
Mandelkorn, who also is dressing Lovecraft Country creator Misha Green for the Emmy Awards , signed on to work with Smollett prior to the HBO show’s August 2020 premiere, and the stylist says they’ve both been enjoying the style evolution they’ve experienced over the past 12 months.
“Previously Jurnee had stuck to a lot of feminine, typical dressing, but we’ve been having a lot of fun exploring different sides of her personality,” Mandelkorn notes. “We’ve done a lot more suiting, but kept it sexy and edgy, and there’s also been this element of 1990s Angelina Jolie, a bit of a Tomb Raider influence and women who kick ass onscreen. Jurnee does that both onscreen and off, so we wanted to represent that in her style more.”
Sunday’s Dior Haute Couture gown represents another layer in that equation. “It’s softer than some of the looks we’ve done for Jurnee before,” Mandelkorn says of the design. “I love giving clients range; it can get a little one-note if they’re always in the same type of look. This gown is just really beautiful, an incredible silk gauze in a really cool texture that almost looks like a muslin. It gives a bit of a princess vibe, but there’s also this fringe that adds a bit of edge and texture. I also love that it emphasizes both Jurnee’s tiny waist and her shoulders and clavicles, while the color really pops against her skin tone. It compliments her in every way.”
The gown is accessorized with jewels from Bulgari’s Divas’ Dream collection and platform heels by Christian Louboutin. “We needed a very high red-carpet platform for this dress, and there’s no one better at that than Christian,” Mandelkorn says.
To offset the fashion, makeup artist Vincent Oquendo created a beauty look that includes a dark lip and an eye wash in a champagne hue. “Because the fashion is soft and princess-like, we wanted to bring a bit of edge and sexiness with a darker lip,” Mandelkorn adds. “Vincent is amazing in seeing how the beauty plays off the fashion and keeping everything feeling very current. The overall look has notes of old-Hollywood glamour, but it still feels very current.”
Mandelkorn says there’s another reason Sunday’s look resonates for both client and stylist: Not only is it Smollett’s first time wearing Dior Haute Couture on a red carpet, it’s her first time working with the brand’s haute-couture pieces as well. “Dior has always been a sort of visionary brand for Jurnee, to wear for something truly special, and it doesn’t get more special than your first Emmy nomination,” Mandelkorn says. “I love that we’re sharing this moment together.”