The Making of Jessica's Gown

updated 03/10/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/10/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

THURSDAY
FEB. 21 IN N.Y.C.

"I didn't feel confined by her pregnancy," says Chapman (working on the dress in the Marchesa studio) of the Grecian-inspired gown. "We just made it a bit bigger in the back."

SATURDAY
FEB. 23 IN L.A.

Chapman had just over a day to alter and put the finishing touches on the dress before the Awards (Alba's first fitting was on Feb. 22). "It was really quick!" says the designer.

SUNDAY
FEB. 24 IN HOLLYWOOD
"I felt really good wearing it, and I loved the color," says Alba of her Oscar look. "Every day I'm in sweats and I feel schleppy and preggers. I got to get dressed up and feel like a grown-up!"

For Jessica Alba, the right dress for the Academy Awards was at her fingertips. "I loved Marchesa's runway show," says Alba, 26, who saw the fall collection online. "This season was perfect for the Oscars." So perfect the star immediately called her pal, Marchesa head designer Georgina Chapman, to select something "gorgeous." Due to give birth this spring, the actress also needed a gown that was easy to wear. "She chose a dress from the runway and we adapted it," says Chapman, who founded the label with Keren Craig. Whipping up two identical designs—one in plum and the other in mint green—Chapman altered the hand-draped chiffon confection to accommodate the star's more voluptuous figure. "It's just knowing a corset can't go up to the waist," says Chapman. "It has to be empire." She also added a built-in bra and, after Alba's first fitting Feb. 22, changed the draping of the dress. "It was slightly asymmetrical across the bust," she says. "We decided to make it symmetrical because it was a bit constricting on her belly." The minor changes seemed to make a major difference for the actress, who decided on the plum version because it was "a better contrast" to the ice-blue Marchesa she wore to the Scientific & Technical Oscars Feb. 9. "I thought it was comfortable and flattering," says Alba, who hopes the look will be appreciated in years to come. "It would be nice to show my baby, 'This is what Mommy wore to the Oscars!'"

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