Emma Stone’s new film La La Land, directed by Whiplash wunderkind Damien Chazelle, is already on most critics’ sure-fire list for awards season come January. As the Golden Globes and the Oscars approach, Stone herself has been singled out for particular praise. Though a cast of supporting characters circle around her and co-star Ryan Gosling, La La Land is really a two-hander, and Stone sells it well.
She was last nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress two years ago, for her role in Alejandro G. Iñarritú’s Birdman, in a crop of nominees that also included the likes of Laura Dern and Keira Knightley; ultimately, she lost to Patricia Arquette in Richard Linklater’s decade-in-the-making tour de force, Boyhood.
As Stone tours the promotional circuit of premieres, awards shows, and nominations ceremonies for La La Land, she’s adopted a wardrobe worthy of an Oscar contender. (In one case, she directly channels Cate Blanchett, a two-time winner and seven-time nominee herself.) The expert-level choices include multiple outings in brilliant marigold yellow, electric blue and more difficult colors – ones that, on a mere mortal, might be an affront to the eyes. But what mere mortal ever won an Oscar?
Though La La Land doesn’t actually take place in the ’50s, you might be forgiven for thinking otherwise. As she dances through contemporary Los Angeles, Stone’s character Mia sports updated variants on silhouettes popular in the mid-20th century: knee-length skirts, sweetheart necklines, bold colors. Costume designer Mary Zophres, who also worked with Stone and Gosling on their previous co-starring screen appearance, Gangster Squad, sought inspiration from Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, and other bold-faced ingenues of the era, she told Fashionista. A pair of black pants referenced Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face; the emerald green dress Mia wears to the planetarium with Sebastian was inspired by Judy Garland in A Star Is Born. Yet her looks also tap into Stone’s own aesthetic - one canary-yellow dress riffed on an Atelier Versace gown Stone had worn at a previous premiere, while her aquamarine ‘hero’ necklace, which was created by Monique Pean and worn throughout the film, was designed after Stone decided her film character would be a Pisces.
What makes La La Land great is that it’s convincing as an escapist movie-musical, but as the viewer peels back its layers, its ambiguous, sometimes cynical core emerges. That meta-ness, it seems, plays out even on the level of costumes — and now, in Stone’s red carpet attire. Ever since she debuted the film at Cannes earlier this year, including appearing for the premiere in a show-stopping Atelier Versace dress in a metallic green, she hasn’t stopped appearing in off-beat, challenging ensembles ever since. There was a radiant blue Prada, a marigold dress by Rochas followed by one by Giambattista Valli, a floral Gucci that might overwhelm a lesser starlet, the occasional Rodarte, another Giambattista Valli — a floral, in Pantone colors past (blush pink) and present ("Greenery"?) — and a few pantsuits thrown in for good measure.
Her ability to pull off looks we might have previously thought impossible off the runway (and sometimes even on the runway, if we’re being totally honest) is a reminder: Emma Stone can also pull off impossible moves on screen. Like saving the movie-musical in one, very meta, swoop. For her Oscars walk, we'll be anticipating only the harshest colors from the red carpet's (literally) brightest star.
Watch a video interview with Emma Stone here: