How Directors Upped Their Fashion Game This Awards Season

Directors Fashion Main - Getty - H 2020
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Directors including Lulu Wang, Taika Waititi, Todd Phillips, Bong Joon Ho, Rian Johnson and Greta Gerwig are showing that directors can have killer red carpet style, too.

All eyes are on the movie stars at the annual Oscars red carpet, the biggest night for fashion in Hollywood. From Jennifer Lawrence's red Calvin Klein dress in 2011 to Lupita Nyong'o's blue Prada gown in 2014, Oscars looks can go down in history and land stars on coveted best dressed lists each year. 

Well, it's 2020, and who says filmmakers behind the screen can't be just as fashionable?

This awards season has marked an increasing style presence on the red carpet not just by stars but directors, too. Even though women were shut out of the best director Oscars category again, several female directors were in the race, and the number of female directors of top-grossing films reached a 13-year high in 2019. So this season, filmmakers Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) and Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers) brought their A-game to the red carpet.

Gerwig (who did receive a best adapted screenplay nom) channeled Old Hollywood in a classic, custom black-and-white Proenza Schouler gown for the Globes and stunned at the Critics' Choice Awards in a custom Alberta Ferretti deep green double-breasted velvet suit. Stylist Cristina Ehrlich — who also works with Laura Dern and Natasha Lyonne — accessorized with Nikos Koulis brooches. 

The director later donned a custom Gucci velvet gown for the BAFTAs, which landed her on Vogue's best dressed list alongside fashion darlings Emilia Clarke, Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan. Gerwig walked that red carpet with her partner and fellow director, Noah Baumbach (a double nominee for Marriage Story), who was also wearing a two-button satin peak lapel Gucci tux, proving that even the guys are all-in for making sartorial statements this year. Stay tuned for the Oscars when Ehrlich will style both Gerwig and Baumbach in looks by a major designer.

Likewise at the Globes, Wang twinned with her partner, director Barry Jenkins, both in Thom Browne. She suited up in a semi-sheer peplum blouse with a necktie and trousers, while his gray suit featured four stripes on the left pant leg and left sleeve. On the red carpet, Jenkins told reporters that Wang dressed him for the big night.  

Directors Bong Joon Ho (a triple nominee for Parasite) and Taika Waititi (a double nominee for Jojo Rabbit) demonstrated that they've learned some fashion lessons from peacocking stars like Timothée Chalamet and Billy Porter. On Feb. 1, Bong accessorized his Writers Guild Awards suit with a shabby chic scarf and gold butterfly lapel pin, after stars Jason Momoa, Ansel Elgort and Rami Malek sported glittery brooches to the Globes in January. 

Momoa's stylist, Jeanne Yang, dressed Waititi in a sharp blue Etro suit with Tod's shoes for the WGA Awards and a Brunello Cucinelli tuxedo for the BAFTAs on Feb. 2. Long considered one of the best-dressed helmers in Hollywood, Waititi showed the men how it's done this season with suit after suit that broke the black-and-white mold. He landed on THR's best dressed list at the 2020 Globes for his Ermenegildo Zegna XXX cream satin shawl collar jacket, worn with a black shirt, trousers and a satin bow tie.

Waititi took risks all season long — as exemplified by wearing his own sneakers with an Ih Nom Uh Nit navy kimono and Vince trousers at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations event on Jan. 8. For the film's European premiere in October, he embraced the velvet trend in a Zegna velvet shawl collar suit. "Some would call it peacocking. It probably is, but I've always loved bright things and things that stand out," Waititi told THR in 2017.

And although Quentin Tarantino got some flak for wearing an ill-fitting suit to the premiere of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, other directors are certainly noting the importance of a clean red carpet ensemble. Todd Phillips (triple nominee for Joker) hired A-list stylist Ilaria Urbinati, whose clients include such high-profile talent as Dwayne Johnson, Chris Evans, Rami Malek, Donald Glover and Andrew Scott. The payoff: she has put Phillips in Dior all season. 

"It depends on the director," Urbinati tells THR of how invested directors have become in their sense of style. "When I styled Damien Chazelle for La La Land and then for First Man [last year], we definitely played with some nice colors and fun looks. And he was wearing almost all Gucci and Burberry, which was a fun collaboration, and I had them make him some custom tuxes for the awards." 

She works with other directors including Joel Edgerton, Eli Roth ("who really has fun with fashion") and Dexter Fletcher, who was mostly in Tom Ford last year for Bohemian Rhapsody: "He is very into clothes."

"[Director] Rawson Thurber wears a little bit of everything, and he’s gotten more into fashion since we started working together," Urbinati adds. "Some go very classic and don’t want to bring too much attention to themselves and some get super into it." 

Knives Out director and best original screenplay nominee Rian Johnson added cheeky accessories to the BAFTAs that played off his whodunnit mystery film by choosing to wear knife-shaped cufflinks ($13.97).

"As I've gotten a bit older, I've just gotten more and more into clothes, and it was fun getting together with someone who knows so much and trying on some things that I wouldn't necessarily have considered," Johnson told THR for the magazine's Oscars Style Clinic this year. 

One of Johnson's fans, Maria, who declined to give her last name, gave him the knife cufflinks along with a pair of donut socks in reference to a line by Daniel Craig onscreen ($9.99). She bought both on Amazon. "[Johnson] said he was going to wear them to the Oscars. He is such a delightful and lovely person," Maria tells THR. "I am curious if he has or will wear the donut socks at some point!"

Johnson later posted a photo of his sleeves on Twitter, writing, "Oh they’re OUT." Indeed, the same can be said for several best picture helmers this year — their fashion knives are very much out.