Wednesday 23 January 2019

'Designing for red carpet brings weight of pressure' - Irish fashionista Halton

Fashion designer Laura Jayne Halton. Photo: David Conachy.
Fashion designer Laura Jayne Halton. Photo: David Conachy.
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

It's the kind of gig that most designers dream of landing, but creating the perfect red-carpet gown for the Oscars can be something of a pressure cooker.

This year, Irish designer Laura Jayne Halton has designed a bespoke piece for Oscar-nominated director Nora Twomey.

It will be her third time designing a piece for the Oscars red carpet - she designed a dress for Twomey when she attended the ceremony with 'Song of the Sea', and for Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly, who was nominated for her short film 'Head Over Heels' in 2013.

According to Halton, designing for the Oscars results in you questioning everything you know about design. "It most certainly is nerve-racking," she told the Irish Independent. "There is a weight of pressure that comes with being given the task of designing something for the Oscars. You question everything - will it be enough, should I change this or that, will it be liked?

"But you have to make a call to push all of that aside and begin with the most important factor, which is the woman who will be wearing the dress. Ensure that she is wearing it and not vice versa."

Black-gown politics have been front and centre of most red carpets this awards season, as women and men rally to show their support for the #TimesUp movement.

Oscar-nominated director Nora Twomey
Oscar-nominated director Nora Twomey

Halton says herself and Twomey decided they would not stick to a black dress. "As time moves forward, so has the movement," Halton said.

"Wearing black created a strong visual show of solidarity, but the tide of change seems to be pushing forward with more affirmative action."

As it happens, this week the founder of #MeToo, Tarana Burke, said she is not concerned if actors do or don't wear black when they make their way into the Dolby Theatre.

"We have real work to do, making sure survivors have what they need to have to heal. Whether they do something for the Oscars or not doesn't matter to me," she said.

Everyone becomes an armchair fashion critic on the night of the Oscars - but Halton says she steers clear of any 'sack the stylist' pieces online.

"For me what's most important is that my client feels great in the dress, and her most glam self.

"Fashion is like art, everyone has their own style, likes and dislikes, that is what keeps it interesting."

Her one hard and fast rule of Oscar dressing is keep it simple.

"I love pared-back elegance. When a woman is confident and comfortable in what she is wearing, it's like the perfect finishing touch to the whole glamorous look."

Irish Independent

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