Laura Jayne Halton is typical of the tenacious Irish fashion designers who would love to see their work worn by some of the Irish nominees on the Oscars red carpet on March 12.
The celebrated designer, from Maynooth, Co Kildare, has Oscar form. In the last decade, she has on three occasions dressed Irish creatives nominated for Academy Awards.
In 2013, she dressed Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly in an hourglass, Old Hollywood-style gown when the Kerry woman was nominated for her work as producer of animated short Head Over Heels.
She also made two outfits for Nora Twomey from Kilkenny’s Cartoon Saloon when she picked up two Oscar nominations for Best Animated feature for Song of the Sea in 2015 and The Breadwinner in 2018.
However, Laura Jayne isn’t leaving anything to chance about the 95th Academy Awards, which will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
“I’ve been blasting out a batch of emails and making calls all week. I know that Kerry Condon, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Banshees of Inisherin, has a British stylist,” she said.
“She has been wearing a lot of international designers and wore Brandon Maxwell there lately. I don’t know if I will hear back, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Oscars fashion is big business. The televised event had a record high global TV audience of 40 million viewers in 2014 and the annual “Worst and Best Dressed” columns are a media staple.
However, the big question is whether any of the Irish nominees will play a green card and wear an Irish designer on the red carpet, which is traditionally dominated by the big couture houses and brands with deep pockets.
Laura Jayne said she sent an email to the company that made An Cailín Ciúin, and when she heard the film’s producer Cleona Ní Chrualaoí being interviewed on radio, she messaged the show and asked if it would forward the message that she would love to do a dress for her.
“That’s what happened with Fodhla 10 years ago. I heard her say on radio that she didn’t have a dress yet, so I contacted her, sent a drawing and she loved it.
“There was only one glitch. I had to get fabric, make the dress and fly to London with it in five days, but it all worked out well and Fodhla looked fabulous.”
Famous for her couture gowns, Helen Cody has had four of her dresses worn on the Oscar red carpet. Her clients have included Ali Hewson, who attended in 2003 when husband Bono was nominated for Best Original Song.
In 2016, Monika Abraham- son wore a Cody couture piece with feathers dipped in gold leaf when husband Lenny’s film Room garnered four nominations. Helen acknowledged that when designing a dress for the Oscars, “there’s a lot to contend with”.
“Colour is important, as is the 3D factor, and how the outfit looks from various angles,” she said. “And then there’s getting in and out of the car in it, so we always do fittings with the dress where the client sits down, walks up a flight of stairs and tries getting in and out of a car wearing it.
“The thing I’m not a big fan of is the use of serious jewels. I think they’re quite ageing. I think sometimes you just see this gratuitous lump of crystal and it can really overwhelm what can be quite a beautiful silhouette.”
Baby blue for the boys on the red carpet has become quite the thing.
Best Actor nominee for Aftersun, Paul Mescal, wore Gucci baby blue and also a bold Gucci gold satin blazer in the past. More recently, he stepped out in Simone Rocha custom menswear, including pearl-embellished socks and earrings.
Best Supporting Actor nominee Barry Keoghan wore full on, custom Louis Vuitton baby blue to the Golden Globes.
Designer Don O’Neill from Ballyheigue, Co Kerry, famously dressed Oprah Winfrey in his signature stretchy gold sequins when she accepted her honorary Oscar in 2012.
“One of the things that beholds the stars is that they are all trying to up their own game,” Don said.
“Everyone is trading up at the Oscars, so for people like myself, and whoever gets to dress people at the event, I think the stars align in a major way that our dresses are deemed worthy to be on the red carpet.
“Oprah wearing one of my dresses when she accepted her Oscar was one of the biggest highlights of my career.”
Another landmark Irish fashion moment at the Oscars came in 2020 when designer Claire Garvey dressed Galway woman Eimear Noone in a bespoke “warrior woman” lavish gold jacket with train when she became the first woman ever to conduct the orchestra at the awards ceremony.
Aoibheann McNamara, co-founder of The Tweed Project in Galway, said: “It would be lovely to see Irish designers represented at the Oscars.
“It’s a great year for Irish film, and it would be lovely for some of the amazing nominees to be wearing Irish design.”