Lupita Nyong'o's Gothic Glam: Style Team Shares Secrets Behind Her Red Carpet Looks

9:30 AM 11/15/2019

by Falen Hardge

The star of Jordan Peele's' Us' leaned into the horror film's creepiness with bold looks in 2019.

Dave Benett/WireImage; Daniele Venturelli/WireImage; Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

  • A Harlequin in London

    Lupita Nyong’o, who stars in Jordan Peele’s Us, wore a red sequined wrap dress designed by Giorgia Tordini and Gilda Ambrosio of The Attico in a plaid pattern for a March 14 screening of the horror film in London. Red contacts finished the look, which her stylist, Micaela Erlanger, likens to a harlequin: “There was something that felt a little spooky. Her makeup artist, Nick Barose, played up her cheeks and did this wild makeup, and Vernon François really nailed it with the hair.”

  • Tailored Meets Transparent

    Nyong’o strutted her custom Vera Wang dress with a classically tailored black wool off-the-shoulder bustier-inspired jacket and quilted stitching at the SAG Awards on Jan. 27. The beaded, sheer column skirt was created from 32,000 hand-sewn smoke-colored crystals. Notes Erlanger: “We’d never done anything like this before. This was our opportunity to have a fashion moment.”

  • Running With Scissors

    In Austin for Us’ SXSW premiere March 8, Nyong’o wore a polished white Honayda pantsuit from the spring 2019 collection. Barose played up her eyes with a landing strip of red eye shadow extending from eye to eye. Both François and Barose tell THR, “It was my favorite look from the tour.” Nyong’o paid homage to Us’ signature gold scissors with a pair of diamond earrings by Lauren Klassen. Says Erlanger, “We looked high and low for these scissor earrings.”

  • Heading to Camp

    Dripping in Bulgari jewels, Nyong’o wore a handcrafted leather, star-patterned, macramé-detailed Versace column with fuchsia crystals to New York City’s May 6 Met Gala, which featured a camp theme. The gown, which included pants underneath, took 25 days to complete. Hair wizard François constructed a voluminous pompadour that accentuated Nyong’o’s mane with meticulously placed bright spray-painted gold afro pics. Barose embraced the theme by creating dramatic drag-inspired makeup featuring exaggerated thin penciled brows, glittery eyes and dark glossy lips. The star’s cranberry nails were courtesy of Casey Herman. Erlanger says: “There is no one who could pull off pants and put a drag spin on it — but still make it glamorous — like Lupita. She shut it down!”

  • Light as a Feather

    Nyong’o’s one-shoulder feathery white gown at the Feb. 24 Vanity Fair Oscar party hailed from Oscar de la Renta’s fall 2019 collection. The high-low train number required the skills of eight dressmakers over the course of four days. “The movement of the dress in person was divine, light as a feather,” Erlanger recalls. Nyong’o wore her hair in a classic updo, and Barose dabbed Glow Drops in Bronze Glow by Lancôme on her temples and a deep wine matte hue on her lips.

  • Beading in Blue

    At the Jan. 6 Golden Globes, Nyong’o rocked a strapless blue fringed gown by Calvin Klein that had 20,000 silver metal beads and 35,000 chains. “We actually wound up changing the neckline and curving it, which I think just transformed this from being some ordinary strapless dress into something really unique,” says Erlanger

  • Spikes and Grommets

    At the March 19 New York premiere at the Museum of Modern Art, Nyong’o wore a studded white minidress from Balmain’s fall 2019 women’s collection. The ensemble was decked in spikes and grommets, with a thick black belt to accentuate her waist. François showcased box braids with gold details at the roots of her hair. Erlanger describes this look as “kind of tough and kind of spooky and kind of wild. It just had a different attitude and edge that we’re not used to playing with.”

  • A Twinkle in Her Eyes

    While promoting Us on March 18 on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the Lancôme brand ambassador hopped in a time machine of glam and came out during the 1980s. The belted look (which actually is a blouse and a pair of pants) in a dazzling flaming pink from the fall 2019 collection of Bande Noir was topped off with a compelling pair of gold vampire contacts.

    This story first appeared in a November standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.