The Filipino actress chose a black couture dress for the prestigious night.
To prepare for the 80th annual Golden Globes, where she would be making history as the first Filipina actress to be nominated, Dolly De Leon chose a designer from home.
She arrived at the award show in a black corset gown with matching opera gloves by none other than Norman de Vera.
De Leon and her stylist LJ Perez settled on the designer after a collaborative process, which included finding out the actress’s preferences and non-negotiables. Perez certainly has his work cut out for him; the New York-based creative has assisted in creating some of the most news-worthy looks of celebrities like Doja Cat, Lizzo, Shawn Mendez, and Barbie Ferreira.
He told Vogue Philippines that for their initial meeting, the two sat down over Zoom to have a conversation about everything from symbols that were important to her to colors that she liked.
“I need to know her personality to better understand her then infuse it [into the] styling process, so she can perform well and exude confidence on the carpet,” the stylist says. “I want Dolly to be the global star that she is; modern, elevated but still Dolly. When she walks in the room, she commands!”
After discussing his vision for Dolly, who he described as “a delight to work with,” they chose De Vera, a fellow Filipino, for her monumental night on the red carpet. De Vera, who currently helms AZ Factory by Alber Elbaz as its design and image director, has dressed the likes of Heidi Klum and Jennifer Lopez and has worked for houses like Céline, Lanvin, Nicolas Ghesquière’s Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, and Versace.
Their choice of dress? A black leatherette gown fitted over a corset and accentuated with a ruched tulle detailing around her décolletage.
“I felt she’s giving vamp, like she belongs in [the] Wednesday Addams family universe,” says Perez.
According to De Vera, Dolly’s dress was all about modernity and comfort. “I wanted to create something that not only made her feel beautiful but also made her feel her a hundred percent,” the designer says.
“The design process was so fun, collaborating with another fellow Pinoy stylist made things so much [easier] in a way. It was like seeing fashion through my own eyes.” De Vera continues by saying that the Filipino connection was vital throughout the process. “Even if you have never met [them], you feel like you know the other person. Speaking with LJ and his vision for the night just made sense to me.”
De Vera says his design process often begins with nostalgia for home, which he intertwines with his interpretations of art, music, and fashion. With each piece, he makes sure to balance his design style and fantasy with functionality, allowing his wearers complete comfort and confidence—everything Dolly needed in a gown. According to photographer Bianca Parkes, De Leon said “This is the real me,” upon seeing her final look for the event.
Despite having megastars as his clientele, getting to dress De Leon for her epoch-making night gave De Vera chills. “I’m humbled to have even been considered to create something for her!”
Perez, likewise, had nothing but pride for the actress. “For me, she represents all the dreams, hard work, and dedication of every artist… This is a global Filipino moment. Our stories belong to the world stage.”For De Vera, this evening marks the moment for Filipinos to finally be given their due. “We are now being seen for what we have always been able to do! I always say there is space at the table. Kain na tayo!” [Let’s eat!]
Photographer Bianca Parks. Styled by LJ Perez. Makeup Kelly Goldsack. Hair Gui.
Clothing credits: dress by AZ Factory; bag by Judith Leiber; shoes by Steve Madden; earrings by Alessandra Camila Milano (Yaya Publicity) and Kat Kim (FSPR); rings by David Yurman and Edward Avedis (Yaya Publicity).