Fashionistas Reveal How to Wear Hollywood's New Red-Carpet Obsession: Yellow
Tips from top industry stylists and beauty gurus on pulling off the surprisingly challenging sunny shade that has overtaken awards-season fashion.
Is Hollywood's new LBD ("little black dress" for those who don't don this wardrobe staple) actually the LYD? Citrine, canary, chartreuse or lemon cream — yellow dresses are having a moment. The hand-painted yellow floral frock Emma Stone dances in on the poster for La La Land has become such a sunny signifier of the film, she has carried the feeling onto the red carpet, wearing a canary Giambattista Valli dress to THR's Women in Entertainment breakfast in December and a mustard Rochas pleated silk chiffon dress for her hand- and footprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre later that same day. (Bringing things full circle, the film costume was inspired by a yellow Atelier Versace gown Stone wore to a premiere in 2014, according to La La Land costume designer Mary Zophres, who calls the shade "resilient, clear and joyous."
And yet, fashion's hottest hue isn't always the easiest sell. "In fittings, actresses will always say they can't wear yellow. But you just have to find the right one," says stylist Elizabeth Stewart, who put Jessica Chastain in a butter-yellow Armani Prive gown for the opening of Cafe Society in Cannes and adds that the hue is her top pick for Fences star Viola Davis this season. "Green-based yellows can make the skin look sallow; deeper mustards can be nice on pale or darker skin. It's about looking at it on the person with their skin, hair and eye color," says Jennifer Rade, who dressed Michelle Williams in a saffron Vera Wang gown for the 2006 Oscars, among the stylist's top five red-carpet moments ever. "The right lip color can make a big difference, so try yellow styles on with lipstick at the very least."
For fair complexions, Chanel makeup artist Rachel Goodwin recommends a lip "equal in vitality" to the yellow you're wearing, citing Chanel Le Rouge Crayon de Couleur in No. 4 Rouge Corail and Chanel Rouge Coco Ultra Hydrating Lip Colour in Sari Dore as top picks for clients Stone and January Jones for occasions when they've worn the shade on the red carpet. For darker complexions, makeup artist Alex Babsky, who works with Moonlight star Naomie Harris, suggests "sheer washes of orange with a similar citrus pop," rather than opaque hues. Try an orange-tinted gloss or sheer lipstick, or use an orangey blush like Lancome Blush Subtil in Rouge in Love, he says.
A little yellow can go a long way. "We've tried long yellow dresses, and it's like Big Bird. It wears you," says stylist Nola Singer, who dressed Harris for November's InStyle/HFPA party in a taxicab-yellow sequin Ralph Lauren minidress. (Singer says she loves "mixing yellow with silver or other colored accessories," like Harris' silver Jimmy Choo clutch and Nicholas Kirkwood black, turquoise and orange shoes.) "Take a photo with good lighting to see how the color looks on your skin. With a bright color like yellow, we test it with other colored or metallic accessories. Mixing really helps."
This story first appeared in the Jan. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.