This Oscars Dress Was Designed for a Really Powerful Reason

Even when a designer creates a custom dress for an Oscar nominee or presenter, he or she won’t know for sure if it’s being worn. In fact, there’s no counting those chickens until the celebrity steps out on the red carpet.

Things are a bit less uncertain for Marchesa this year, because the brand’s co-designers Keren Craig and Georgina Chapman have partnered with Stella Artois and Water.org for the “Buy A Lady A ” campaign. They’re dressing Olivia Culpo in a one-of-a-kind gown that will make its debut on the world’s biggest style stage, to raise awareness of the global water crisis.

“Keren and I are so excited to be able to say we’re dressing Olivia Culpo. It’s the first time we’ve been able to say that. Because you never know. People always have options – this is such a pleasure to be able to say Olivia will be in our dress,” says Chapman.

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Anne Hathaway in Marchesa (Photo: Getty Images)

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The brand was approached and both women immediately were intrigued. Water.Org, co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White, brings clean water and sanitation to areas that don’t have it. Their work especially helps women and girls, because they’re often the ones tasked with providing their families with clean water — something that can take hours, if not days, to achieve.

“As designers, as mothers, as women — just the simple thing of having clean water is such an empowering tool. Things we take for granted,” says Craig. “The idea of reflection, the way the dress is going to move, that’s going to hopefully evoke water.”

Given the tumultuous state of the world at the moment, the Marchesa partnership is also a means of “using fashion to inspire a conversation that needs to be continued,” says Culpo. “I’m wearing the cause, on my body, which is fun.”

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Jennifer Lopez in Marchesa (Photo: Getty Images)

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She’s friends with Chapman and says the collaboration is “a really unbelievable opportunity to work with a brand I love and to give back. It’s such an interesting way of spreading the word.”

At the time of this interview, Craig and Chapman hadn’t yet built the dress, and Culpo hadn’t seen a prototype. She’s having just one fitting and then putting it on for real on Oscars Sunday.

“I’ve seen sketches. We did somewhat design it together. They showed me three different sketches and I told them the ones I gravitated towards,” she says. “This campaign is empowering women and helping women across the world. That’s something I always love to do if I can.”

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