Getting ready for the Oscars® with stylist Rose Forde

Getting ready for the Oscars with stylist Rose Forde | Soho House

The Soho House member whose clients include James Norton and Jessie Buckley reveals the secrets of dressing for red-carpet success

Friday 10 March 2023 By Chloe Lawrance

Oscar Week is well and truly underway, with the ceremony taking place this Sunday. The biggest night of the year in Hollywood, the Academy Awards celebrates the brightest in film and entertainment – and we’ll be hosting plenty of live viewing parties at our North American Houses if you fancy a slice of the action yourself.

While we’re certainly excited to see who takes home the top trophies, we’ll also be keeping an eye on the red (or, as it promises to be this year, Champagne-coloured) carpet. As attendees don their glad rags, there are teams of stylists working hard to ensure the night’s most glamorous looks are pulled off without a hitch. 

To get a sense of what exactly goes into getting ready for such a big event, we turned to Holloway House member Rose Forde, a stylist and creative consultant whose roster of clientele includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joe Alwyn, and more. Forde is renowned for being part of the new vanguard of red-carpet dressing, and for this year’s awards she’ll be working closely with Noomi Rapace, Matt Smith and Jessie Buckley. 

How do you start the styling process for something as big as the Oscars®?
‘I really lean into what the client wants and how they want to feel on the night. It’s always about the confidence of the wearer. Once we’ve settled on the brief (which can be both creative and emotive), I start to explore the outfit in terms of designer. I’ll look to existing collections or go down a custom route if I can’t find what I want.. I love to use big carpets like the Oscars® to preview new collections and be the first to breathe personality into a look that’s just been seen on the runway.’

How long does a look take to prepare?
‘As soon as I hear that a film is an awards contender, I start to sow the seeds straight away with designers I might want to work with. I started working on the Oscars® in January and it’s been an ever-moving conversation since then.’

Do you know exactly what the star will wear on the night or do you like to have multiple options at the ready? 
‘I try to have the main foundations of the look set, but there are always tweaks and final touches right up to the end. Too many options would be too stressful for me, maybe because I was an editor for magazines. I’m pretty good at editing down.’ 

Getting ready for the Oscars with stylist Rose Forde | Soho House

Do you work with the hair and makeup team to ensure your vision is complete? 
‘Absolutely. I’ll share the look ahead of time and then any references that I feel are important, often from high fashion, art and cinema.’
Once the star is dressed, how do you spend the rest of the night?
‘I like to be with my talent to get them ready for a big ceremony or premiere. If I’m not there, my assistant is, and I’m on the end of the phone. It often means late nights if I’m in Europe and they are in the US. If I’m able to be there, I might go to the event, but I tend to shy away from parties. I prefer dinner and easy conversations to unwind and celebrate.’

Do you get nervous before a big event like the Oscars®? 

‘Definitely. There’s always a last-minute drama to deal with, usually down to logistics which are often out of my hands. It’s a mix of adrenaline and nerves.’ 

Where do you get your clients ready before an event?

‘Often in hotels. I’ve used some of the Houses before, too. When I travel for work, I’ll base myself in Soho House if there’s one in the city; it feels like a home from home.’

How did you become a red-carpet stylist?

‘My main focus used to be editorial styling, working for magazines like Numéro and L’UOMO Vogue. I never really thought about personal styling until I met an actor on a shoot and his team asked me to help on his next promotional tour. At the time, actors were often just offered boring suits for the red carpet. I started to realise there was a huge gap between talent dressing and current fashion conversations, which I wanted to be part of closing.’ 

What has been your favourite red-carpet look to style?
‘I loved Paapa Essiedu’s MET look last year, as he looked so strong and present in it. It was fluid and modern, and I was so happy to work with Off-White and represent Virgil Abloh at this major event. The look is actually going to be in an exhibition at Kensington Palace this year.’

What is your best styling tip for a big event? 
‘It sounds obvious, but be yourself and dress for yourself. Confidence oozes style.’
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