Emmys: Joey King Channels Audrey Hepburn in Zac Posen

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Joey King in custom Zac Posen at the 71st Emmy Awards.

The first-time nominee wore “a soft architectural gown with volume that has a real timeless quality to it…and an ode to the ruby slipper in the back,” said Posen, while stylist Jared Eng added that the look was inspired by Audrey Hepburn.

“It’s all coming full circle,” said Joey King, first-time Emmy nominee as lead actress in a limited series for her role in Hulu’s The Act, at The Hollywood Reporter SAG-AFTRA Emmy nominees party Friday night. “Zac Posen took me to my first Emmy awards and now I’m wearing his dress!”

Speaking to THR by phone, Posen corroborated the story: “About one year ago, I met Joey in a true Hollywood way as an arranged date; I was going for my last season of Project Runway, when we were nominated for best show, and I met her in a fitting. We fell in love with each other. She is very special. And I had the great honor of bringing her to her first Emmy Awards [last year]. In Cinderella form, I dropped her off at the end of the night and she changed out of her dress to get on a plane to film The Act. We remained in touch and good friends. And then The Act came out and the very well-deserved nomination. So pretty cool and kind of a Hollywood story of going for the first time for the Emmys and then coming back as a nominee!”

On Sunday, the 20-year-old actress stepped out in a red strapless, corseted custom dress by Posen that the designer describes as “a soft architectural gown with volume that has a real timeless quality to it; it is made of organza gazar; it’s floaty. There are architectural godets and flares that come from a drop waist.” On the back is some surprise sparkle that Posen says is “an ode to the ruby slipper.”

As for the process, Posen tells THR: “We sent in ideas from past collections and then, on a weekend, I started draping for her, inspired by her with her new haircut. She wanted a cool bow detail in the back, something strapless, some skin exposed in the back, and something with an architectural quality to it that remained elegant and classic, which is so refreshing to hear from a [then] 19-year-old. She wants fashion! She knows her references and she knows my clothing now really well, so it’s a real designer Hollywood collaboration.”

Posen knew he had made his mark when “she started crying when she tried it on,” he says. “This is her dream dress and we really captured it and that’s when I know that I’ve done a good job. And I really care a great deal about her. I think she’s really a spectacular actress and a wonderful person and girl. At the Emmys last year, I felt like I was debuting her. I take that with a great deal of responsibility, and people just fell in love with her. I think it’s great to have a young woman who wants to look elegant. It’s rarer and rarer and Joey really understands that and it’s cool. It’s going to take her a long way!”

Entertainment blogger Jared Eng (of Just Jared fame)King’s stylist and friend of seven years, told THR that Audrey Hepburn's minimalist look served as inspiration: "Joey wanted a timeless and classic look, so we channeled Old Hollywood glamour. Like Audrey Hepburn, we kept her neck and hands bare to really accentuate how beautiful the dress is: the color, the silhouette and the construction details. We also added a youthful element to the look with the playful, crystallized bow and cutout in the back of the dress.

King accessorized with Swarovski earrings (notably no necklace, in Hepburn form), Stuart Weitzman shoes and a Jimmy Choo clutch.