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- March 14, 2005
- Vol. 63
- No. 10
Diary of An Oscar Grown
The Story of How Designer Valentino Created a One-of-a-Kind Dress for Cate Blanchett
Like most top designers, Valentino has offered gowns to many actresses for past awards shows. But couture, he says, is "an enormous amount of long work and details. I prefer to work with people who understand and respect it. Everything is sewn by hand and fit two or three times. So this time I decided to have one special dress, conceived for this one special actress."
The couture process is indeed special-for both the creator and wearer. The day after Valentino's Paris show on Jan. 24, Blanchett received her Oscar nod, and Valentino—who says he had always wanted to dress Hepburn and loved The Aviator—called Blanchett to congratulate her. Within a week of her viewing his collection online, the two met in London and settled on the fabric and details of the gown. "She has her own personality," says Valentino. "We discussed everything."
Back in Rome, Valentino screened The Aviator for his staff, who began working full-time on the dress. Two weeks later the head seamstress took it to the actress in London for a fitting. One more week in Rome was required to finalize the off-the-shoulder silk taffeta gown, then on Feb. 25 it was packed in acid-free tissue and sent by courier to Los Angeles. After a last inspection, it was delivered on a velvet hanger to Blanchett's hotel. As she said with a smile on her arrival at the Oscars, "Mr. Valentino made it for me."
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