Fashion talk is always a huge part of the Oscars aftermath, but co-host Anne Hathaway’s whopping eight costumes changes brought style chatter to another level. We talked to the woman behind Hathaway’s looks, super-stylist Rachel Zoe, who selected the seven ensembles with associate Jill Lincoln. Zoe, who’s currently nine months pregnant, chatted with us about why she chose the dresses, working around the actress’ Catwoman training schedule, and what to expect on the next season of The Rachel Zoe Project.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was the experience like? Dressing Anne Hathaway as co-host is pretty major!
RACHEL ZOE: It was a big night for me, but you can only imagine what it was like for Annie. It was pretty incredible. We’ve been working on it since they announced it. I found out when everybody else did. It was one of things, like, normally we need to have this many fittings to get to one dress, and now we have the opportunity to use, in total, eight dresses. It was the ultimate fantasy for both of us. We got to play dress-up. Annie’s certainly one of my muses. It was really, really fun. Legitimately, the day could not have gone better. She was in the best mood, all smiles. It was an incredible energy backstage. Everyone was taking it seriously, but still having fun and embracing the moment.
So there were no mishaps? No missing double-sided tape?
It’s weird. because I was expecting it. I hate to be boring, but there were no catastrophes! Annie was so gracious, thanked everyone 10,000 times. She was incredible. Everyone was back there that was close to her. We have such a good time together. It’s just a comfort level.
What was your first reaction when you got the news that Anne would be co-hosting?
My reaction was, “Of course I’m pregnant. Why wouldn’t I be pregnant during this time?” It was exciting because this was the ultimate project and who better to do it with? Annie is so professional and had so much fun with it. She’s as talented as she is beautiful. We’ve had so many great moments on the red carpet together, so it’s like, how do we top this moment and how do we top that moment? You have to know who your audience is when you’re doing something like the Oscars. But it’s hard to please everyone all the time. What we tried to do was be super diverse in the choices — from the Vivienne Westwood, which was a corseted ball gown, to a super futuristic modern Armani and the Givenchy couture, which was a little more traditional and medieval. We jumped across the board. The Oscar de la Renta was the perfect fringe, party, sexy dress. The Tom Ford – I can’t even talk about. It leaves me speechless.
Were you backstage with her?
I was in the beginning, and then my team stayed on. I came back. Annie was like, “You’re nine months pregnant. You need to go.”
How was it different than pulling looks for the red carpet?
For the red carpet at the Oscars, you just pull out all the stops and just want that beautiful Hollywood moment. Annie is a true movie star in every sense of the word without actually trying. She just is. She’s beyond talented and wears clothes so beautifully. She loves fashion. It’s not so calculated, like, “Oh, let’s do this for this.” We just had all these incredible dresses and all these designers made these incredible things for her. The idea is that once you get this incredible group of dresses, you edit it down based on rehearsals where it’ll fit in the lineup. We squeezed as many changes as we could. There were moments during the show when I was like, “I feel like we could’ve changed one more time!” But there’s a lot going on back there.
A lot of her outfits were custom-made. Were designers clamoring to dress Anne?
Almost all of it was [custom]. We were pretty specific about what we wanted, and there were a few that didn’t make it, but most of them were custom for her. Probably 70 percent. It was pretty amazing.
How was your plan of action different since she was co-hosting?
This was very, very in-depth. My team, including my associate, Jill Lincoln, she was literally there day in, day out. It was the Oscars! There’s no margin for error. The difference is normally when you’re doing red carpet, you do fittings in a studio, and we sort it out from there. And then she does the carpet and then she sits in the seat and goes to the after-party. This time, she’s working that stage, she’s moving around, she’s singing, she’s dancing. The clothes weren’t only custom and couture, but they actually had to be functional. She had to be able to move. Brian Atwood made her these incredible custom shoes she wore with her Lanvin tuxedo. As beautiful as they are, we had to make sure she could dance in them, move in them. Thankfully, she could. But there’s fashion and there’s, okay, I don’t want her to fall. You have to be strategic, and we really had to run through the show several times and go through the order. Make sure she doesn’t have two red dresses in the show and she has one white, then one blue, then black, then one red, because you don’t want to be redundant. You also wanted to make sure it was appropriate. We did Tom Ford for the finale because it was long sleeve, and she was singing with children. You just want to be appropriate. You think about how you want to start off the show and how you want to end. You want to be planned but not too calculated — and super glamorous!
So was she dancing around during fittings?
Oh for sure. Annie’s always dancing and singing. She’s got so much energy and she gets it. She has to be able to move, dance and sing, otherwise it’s not going to happen.
Both Annie and I have an incredible history with Mr. Valentino, and his retirement is very sad to the red carpet of the world. It was an incredible honor for Annie to be able to wear a dress from his archives because it’s not something we’ve seen in a long time since his retirement. We knew for the red carpet it would be one of Mr. Valentino’s looks and then for the Vanity Fair party, it was kind of a wild card. But the Versace dress was this incredible Atelier dress from the new couture collection that we were obsessed with. It had just come in on Thursday night. We were so in love, and it made it into the show but had a very quick airtime, so we said, “Let’s get some more mileage of it. Let’s give it another moment.” She loved it and felt so comfortable in it, so she said, “Let’s do it for Vanity Fair because there are always such incredible photos.” And Annie strikes a pose like nobody’s business.
How much input did Anne give?
We have such an incredible rapport at this point. We just kind of know. We really respect each other. She definitely has an opinion. She knows what feels right and what doesn’t. She’s very honest. Sometimes something will be amazing and she’ll say, “It doesn’t feel right. I can’t move,” and we’ll move on. Or if I feel like something doesn’t make sense, I’ll completely say so.
Were you aiming for more costume changes than you had?
At the end of the day, you have to be reasonable with how many changes you can actually do. Believe me, we would’ve gone for 10, but there’s only so much time.
Was there anything that you tried that didn’t work?
Not really. But on the red carpet, I wanted her to wear a higher heel, but we couldn’t because the dress length was short.
Did you have a favorite among her seven onstage outfits?
It’s definitely hard [to choose]. The finale look, the Tom Ford, was pretty extraordinary. It was so unique and special. It was this Marlene Dietrich modern-day moment. Tom Ford is brilliant. Overall, it was the perfect mix of designers. We had Givenchy, Armani, Tom Ford, Vivienne Westwood, Oscar de la Renta. We literally went international — Brits, Italians, Americans. We tried our best to spread it out.
Do you remember how many fittings you had?
I don’t even know. She’s also in another movie; she’s training for [her role as Cat Woman in The Dark Knight Rises]. We had to go all over the place for some of the fittings. Jill Lincoln and Jordan, they really were on top of it. It’s been a really long process but really, really fun. Like I said, it’s the fantasy fashion project, and it’s not even pretend, and it’s with Anne. What could be better?
So is Jill the replacement for Brad?
I don’t really like to say that. I’m not trying to replace anybody. We always have new people on the team. She’s been with us since September.
Did you dress anyone else for the show?
Just for parties. I dressed Liv Tyler, Cameron [Diaz] and Eva Mendes. The girls were so relaxed this year. Everyone just wanted to put on cute party dresses and have fun. It wasn’t as serious as it usually is. Like Cameron wanted something short, flirty, and fun.
There is a report that you charged “astronomical” fees for your styling. Can you comment or clarify?
It’s just classic ridiculousness. I have no idea who would ever know that and why they would say that. It just seems so silly. It’s nobody else’s business. Nobody else talks about what they make and what they do. Someone clearly wanted to have fun with something as usual.
It was reportedly someone from the Academy. Who actually picks up the tab?
I can’t imagine that’s true. It sounded [like] someone’s making up something not factual. I have no idea. I don’t really get involved in that stuff. That’s agent stuff.
Will we see any of the Oscar moments on the new season of The Rachel Zoe Project?
Little bits and pieces for sure. We are still filming.
Now that the Oscars are over, you can take a breather, right?
I wish! I have a shoot tomorrow. So not yet!
Photo: Dan Steinberg/AP Images; Mendes, Tyler: Craig Barritt/Getty Images; Diaz: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images