Emma Stone embraces method dressing at Baftas with Bella Baxter-inspired look

In Poor Things, the character of Bella Baxter has a very distinctive look: steampunk Victoriana, with a taste for leg-of-mutton sleeves, operatic flounces and saccharine pastel shades. On the Bafta podium to collect her best actress award, Emma Stone came dressed in character, in a salmon-pink gown with one balloon-shaped sleeve, vintage-style buttoning and a floating bubble skirt.

Stone’s dress was not the result of a last-minute rummage in the Poor Things costume department, but a custom-made gown that took the Louis Vuitton atelier 450 hours to create, and which her stylist, Petra Flannery, said was intended “to show [Stone’s] affinity with the character and Bella’s spirit”.

Method dressing is the new method acting. This is a dramatic reversal of the conventions of the red carpet. For decades, actors have dressed for awards ceremonies not as characters, but as movie stars. Whether nominated for a gritty wartime drama or a sci-fi epic, they chose classic hourglass gowns for the big night, strategically positioning themselves as timeless – and bankable – Hollywood players.

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The switch has been led by Margot Robbie, who has rarely been seen in any colour but pink in six months of promoting Barbie. Last month, Giorgio Armani created a scaled-up, lifesize version of the dress and feather boa worn in miniature by Superstar Barbie, a 1977 edition of the doll, for Robbie’s appearance at the Golden Globes. The actor’s black-and-pink Baftas gown was also made by Giorgio Armani Privé. Robbie’s strategy of bringing the film to life on the red carpet to maintain excitement and engagement with audiences has proved hugely successful: the film has grossed more than £1bn at the box office, with Robbie thought to have received about £40m in her dual role as star and producer.

In 2021, Zendaya made cobwebs a motif of her red-carpet looks while promoting Spider-Man: No Way Home. Working with the Hollywood stylist Law Roach, she wore a sheer black spiderweb gown by Valentino for the film’s Los Angeles premiere, and Alexander McQueen thigh-high boots with sparkling, dewy webs embroidered in crystal for the London red carpet.

Michelle Yeoh took a less literal approach while promoting last year’s Oscar-winning Everything Everywhere All at Once, wearing surrealist Schiaparelli catwalk looks that Vogue described as “spiritually aligned with Yeoh’s acclaimed performance in the absurdist action film”.

Last month, Rosamund Pike wore a dramatic heart-shaped black-lace veil to the Golden Globes, where she was nominated for best female actor in a supporting role. The look delighted fans of her performance in Saltburn as the eccentrically glamorous Elspeth Catton. Asked about the synergy with her on-screen persona, Pike explained that the veil was made for her by Philip Treacy after she had a skiing accident, adding: “Well, you know, you have to channel it, don’t you?”


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