The Story Behind Olivia Culpo’s 2017 Oscars Gown

by Natasha Wolff | February 23, 2017 2:00 pm

Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, the power duo behind Marchesa, have created a brand that defines elegance and luxury in fashion; their timeless designs known for producing iconic red carpet moments. So what better way to celebrate this reputation than to harness the power of an Oscars’ red carpet to promote a cause that’s close to both the designers’ hearts?

For the 89th Academy Awards, Marchesa partnered with Stella Artois to design a custom gown for Olivia Culpo, as part of Artois’ ongoing “Buy A Lady A Drink” campaign[1]. The dress will debut on the industry’s most esteemed red carpet, its design inspired by a limited edition collection of Stella Artois chalices, every one of which will provide five years of clean water to one individual. As Chapman said, “If you have a voice, I think you have a responsibility to use it, and to use your platform in a way that you can to help people around the globe.”

Image Credit: Christopher Howard, Marquis Studio Productions

Stella Artois initially reached out to the designers about their partnership with, and after learning more about why water – something so available here in the US, for the most part – is actually a luxury to some, Marchesa had to play a part in the solution. “It’s just amazing how many hours women, children and even men sometimes spend collecting clean water,” Craig explained. “It means that they can’t get an education, or they can’t get a job to support the family. So if you enable women to do these things by just having the clean water there, it means that they can go out and provide for their family.” Marchesa is an international business after all, and this issue exists in places, like India, where the brand sources crafts like delicate beading and embroidery. 

As for Culpo, the model and former Miss Universe is familiar to both speaking on behalf of important causes and effortlessly wearing custom couture. Chapman first met Culpo on the set of “Project Runway All Stars” and after being impressed by the fashionista’s repertoire, knew that designing a gown for her would be the easiest component of this project. “She’s a really nice reflection of Marchesa: I think she’s a woman that’s very confident and has style, and really embodies and embraces being a feminine, strong figure and I think we gravitate toward that,” Chapman said. And the feeling was mutual. As Culpo told[2] DuJour[3], “My first thought was ‘I’m only going to do it if Marchesa does it too’ because I love their designs and just love them as people.” “But more importantly,” she said, “The global water crisis affects women predominately.” 

See the gown’s debut at the 89th Academy Awards during E!’s “Countdown to the Red Carpet” show, 1:30 p.m. EST.

Main image: Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

  1. “Buy A Lady A Drink” campaign:
  2. As Culpo told:
  3.  DuJour:

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