When actor and director Elizabeth Banks started thinking about her dress for the 2023 Oscars, she knew she should avoid a straight-column dress. She told Vanity Fair that she is still haunted by a moment about a decade ago when she was “penguin-waddling” onstage with Mark Wahlberg and almost took a spill. “I tripped and I almost fell, and it has stayed with me,” she said with a laugh. “When we got up to the microphone, he was like ‘You almost ate shit back there!’ So we’re not doing that.”

Christian Högstedt

It’s been a big year for Banks, who played an emotional role in last year’s abortion rights drama Call Jane and is celebrating her second feature as director, the viral sensation Cocaine Bear. For this year’s Oscars, she worked with stylist Erin Walsh on a look created around a Vivienne Westwood bespoke gown reflects the legacy of the designer, who died last December after nearly a half-century of defining edgy British style. “The color scheme of this dress is pretty classic, but the shape is very interesting and very Vivienne Westwood,” Banks said. “She always did such incredible things with the female body and showing it off.”

Throughout her years in Hollywood, she has opted for bold looks with patterns and trains, and the black and ivory dress, paired with jewelry by Pomellato, was an opportunity to meld that sensibility with a bit of Oscars timelessness. “There’s a level of elegance to the Oscars that you want to lean into always,” she said. “It’s also got an incredible, really interesting train, but the train comes off of a shoulder piece. It doesn’t train like from any normal spot on a dress, which is really fun and exciting.” 

Christian Högstedt

She also spent time thinking about the practicalities of the dress: Can she sit in it? Can she stand in it? “I spend a lot of time—when I’m trying on dresses—worried about how I’m gonna go to the bathroom in the dress!” she said. “I’ve had a couple of moments where I’ve gotten totally sewn into the dress and then, then like, wait, how am I gonna go to the bathroom and, and everyone just being like, oops, sorry, bye. Good luck. I remember I ended up in the bathroom with Sarah Paulson and Amanda Peet helping me out one time. So they really had to get me in and out of a dress once in the bathroom.”

The other aspect of her planning for an awards show is sticking to the basics. “One of my main things is just staying hydrated, and it’s the best thing for skin,” she said. “I’m all about the skin! I’m getting old. I’m 49. I don’t wanna be puffy faced up there so it’s about good sleep and good hydration.” Makeup artist Kara Yoshimoto Bua made sure Banks glowed on and off the red carpet, while hairstylist Clayton Hawkins styled swept her locks into a chignon and nail artist Emi Kudo created her manicure. 

She’s also looking forward to seeing Rihanna at Sunday’s show, but added that she feels honored to get the chance to celebrate the behind-the-scenes work that makes it all happen. “I have such great respect for all the artists and all the below-the-line people, the crews that work on, on things,” she said. “I’m presenting a technical award and I’m so excited to be honoring just the whole community that makes movies.”

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