How stars choose their Oscars gowns

HAUTE DEMAND: A lot more blood, sweat and tears go into getting these women dressed on Oscars night than we've ever realised, spills celeb stylist George Kotsiopoulos.
HAUTE DEMAND: A lot more blood, sweat and tears go into getting these women dressed on Oscars night than we've ever realised, spills celeb stylist George Kotsiopoulos.

Awards season is the Olympics of the fashion world. Being named best dressed at the Academy Awards is the style equivalent of winning gold. Months of preparation and years of networking combine to create the perfect Oscars look.

''The Oscars are very serious. The reality is the bigger the star the more power you have. It used to be an actress went into a store with a friend and bought a dress, now it's all about the relationships,'' co-host of E!'s Fashion Police and stylist George Kotsiopoulos told Fairfax.

''There are enough dresses, shoes and bags to go around but designers want exclusives and actresses don't want to see anyone else wearing something even remotely resembling their outfit on awards night.''

LADY IN RED: What will Jennifer Lawrence wear to the Oscars?
LADY IN RED: What will Jennifer Lawrence wear to the Oscars?

The red carpet at an awards ceremony is one of the most important fashion shows in the world, not only for the guests and designers but also for the stylists and beauty therapists behind them. One person sashaying down the 152-metre red carpet into the Kodak Theatre in the right gown with the right hair, make-up and accessories can make or break careers.

Kotsiopoulos, who was named as one of the Top 25 stylists of 2012 by The Hollywood Reporter, encouraged Australasian brands, like Australasian actors, to make US connections in order to get noticed on the red carpet.

''It's all about relationships and reaching out to the stylists. You have to be present here in LA for at least a week before the ceremonies. It's tough and it's not cheap, especially for designers, as you have to have a seamstress on call at all times,'' he said.

The several million people who will tune in to watch the Oscars around the world next month will encounter the most diverse fashion plate the awards show has served up in its 85-year history.

The best actress category will showcase everything from children's wear to senior citizen's style thanks to nine-year-old nominee Quvenzhane Wallis and 85-year-old Amour star Emmanuelle Riva.

Fellow contenders Naomi Watts, Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence will all be vying for style gold stars as well as golden statues on the night.

While competition among stylists has intensified over the years as they try to secure never-before-seen and custom gowns for their clients, Kotsiopoulos said the playing field levels out as some stars have connections and lucrative deals with designers.

In 2012 Valentino came out of retirement especially to design Hathaway's wedding gown. She has previously worn gowns from his private vintage archive to Academy Awards ceremonies and recently travelled to Switzerland to attend his exclusive New Year's Eve party. ''Anne is like a daughter to him,'' a Valentino representative said.

A Dior-clad Lawrence didn't know the meaning of the words ''haute couture'' during an interview with Ryan Seacrest at the Golden Globes. The 22-year-old best actress nominee is the new face of the Miss Dior handbag campaign and is tipped to wear another one-off Christian Dior creation by Raf Simons to the Oscars.

Watts, a regular recipient of the Academy's critical attention, has been lauded with best-dressed accolades thanks to her new experimental looks. The 44-year-old's style evolution has been attributed to her role as Australia's Pantene Beautiful Lengths ambassador and her new stylist Jeanann Williams.

The pair have been working together since August and for most of that time Williams, who is married to Watts' brother Ben, has spent hours, sometimes even entire nights, sourcing inspiration for the dress The Impossible star will wear for less than six hours.

''The day the nominations came out the major fashion houses were all calling, sending sketches and colour options through because the designers love her,'' the fashion publicist turned stylist told Fairfax.

''She wears a dress beautifully and she has great relationships - as do I - with a lot of designers so we are now slowly trying to narrow it down, but we're not quite there yet. There will be two or three fittings then we will go back and forth with the atelier to ensure the fit is just perfect.''

She hinted historical photographs of Grace Kelly have provided her and Watts with ''options''. ''In my mind I'm imagining her going up to that podium so I'm envisioning a dress, a hairstyle and the accessories that will all stand the test of time.''

Live from the Red Carpet: The 2013 Academy Awards, E! ,9.30am, February 25. Fashion Police: The 2013 Academy Awards, E!, 9.30pm, February 26. 

- Daily Life