If one person shut down the red carpet at last night’s Academy Awards, it was Carey Mulligan. The Promising Young Woman star arrived at Union Station with husband Marcus Mumford wearing a one-of-a-kind couture piece from Pierpaolo Piccioli’s spring/summer 2021 collection for Valentino. In an instant, Mulligan raced to the top of every best-dressed list. “I’ve never seen a dress like it,” shared Mulligan pre-ceremony. “It’s such stunning artistry that goes into designing and creating a dress like this.
Mulligan’s Valentino was genuinely wearable art. Piccioili named the piece—which served as the collection’s grand finale—after the artisans responsible for its creation. Dubbed “Debora, Giuseppe, Nina, Paola D” it was embroidered with thousands of iridescent sequins with pearl reflections and took 350 hours worth of work at the brand’s Rome atelier to perfect.
Accessorized with Cartier high jewelry earrings featuring tourmalines and colorful sapphires, a Tyler Ellis clutch, and Stuart Weitzman heels, it brought the grandeur we’ve come to expect from Hollywood’s biggest night. To polish things off, hairstylist Jenny Cho gave Mulligan a classic chignon, while makeup artist Georgie Eisdell and manicurist Queenie Nguyen kept things refined with classic colors and understated glamour. Combined, the full effect was dazzling. For Mulligan, it was a matchless style moment. “I just feel so honored to wear it,” she says.
Of course, the star had much more to celebrate than her impeccable taste. A nominee for her performance as Cassie in the biting black comedy Promising Young Woman, Mulligan has never been more dynamic or subversive onscreen. Emerald Fennell’s script, which took home the prize for Best Original Screenplay, tackles the topic of rape culture in a nuanced and thought-provoking way. For Mulligan, the project’s magic lies in the way it delivers its message. “I think what’s so brilliant about what Emerald has done is to make a film about a subject that really needs to be talked about that people want to see, rather than one they feel they ought to see,” she explains. “It’s a movie first and foremost—it’s not medicine, and so it’s so delightfully appealing so that you almost don’t realize that you’re going to be asked to reflect on some challenging stuff. And this subject touches all our lives.”
As the star of one of the most acclaimed films of the entire year, Mulligan has seen first-hand the reaction of audiences as they’ve discovered the movie and fallen in love with its distinctive combination of wit and grit. “I think this has all just been such a huge surprise to us; we’ve just been enjoying every minute,” she says. “To experience it with Emerald is just the greatest.” Naturally, seeing Fennell pick up her first Oscar was the highlight of Mulligan’s evening. “Absolutely [an] out of body shock,” she says. “I was over the moon for Emerald and our whole team, and it all still feels so surreal.”