“It’s Not Just Mine”: Lily Gladstone on Her Historic Oscars Nod and Powerful Red Carpet Look

Photo: Getty Images

As a best actress nominee at tonight’s 96th Academy Awards, all eyes are on Killers of the Flower Moon star Lily Gladstone. It is a historic moment for the Siksikaitsitapi and NiMíiPuu actor, who is making history as the first Native American to be nominated in the category. “I don’t know that I’ll ever fully process it, but I know it’s not just mine,” Gladstone tells Vogue of her Oscars acknowledgement. “I happen to be holding it, it’s under my care for a while, but it’s something that carried meaning for so many more people than just me.” Reflecting on the Martin Scorsese film that thrust her into the global spotlight this year, the actress says she is most grateful for those around her who have made it all possible. “My new Osage friends and family, my new film family,” she says. “The artists, designers, stylists and writers who have uplifted me and each other through this whole season.”

It was only natural, then, that Gladstone’s red carpet look for the Oscars tonight paid tribute to her Indigenous community. Continuing with her thoughtful approach to awards season dressing, in which the star has used her platform to spotlight Indigenous designers, she and stylist Jason Rembert chose an design that brings Native American representation to Hollywood’s most watched and celebrated red carpet. Her custom collaboration look is designed by Gucci creative director Sabato De Sarno and Indigenous artist Joe Big Mountain (Ironhorse Quillwork)—a Mohawk, Cree, and Comanche renowned for his quillwork jewelry. “Lily is an incredible talent. Her selecting Gucci to dress her for this historic moment is an honor,” says De Sarno of the special partnership. “Creating a dress that conveys beauty and illuminates Indigenous designers and artistry, passed down through generations, is powerful; The collaboration with Joe and [his wife] Sunshine in Italy was a special moment for me.”

Photo: Getty Images

Together with the Big Mountains, De Sarno created a midnight-blue velvet Gucci design for Gladstone that features a bustier silhouette and a matching cape adorned with floral quillwork motifs. “One thing that I wanted to utilize were colors that were important to her,” says Joe Big Mountain of his intricate embellishments along the back. “The blues, greens, and reds were significant to her personally, and I wanted to have those close to her heart.” That handmade element resonated with Gladstone as soon as she put the dress on during fittings. “I can literally feel the love poured into each quill and bead—the dress is alive with it,” she says. “The effortless integration of pinnacle luxury [from] both Iron Horse and Gucci was my dream from day one. It’s so brilliant, I cried.”

A sketch of Lily Gladstone’s Oscars look Photo: Courtesy of Gucci

To hand-quill the gown’s velvet cape, the Big Mountains assembled a team of Indigenous artists on the Oneida reservation in Wisconsin to execute 216 individual quilled petals. The artists tapped for the project include Kendrick Powless-Crouch, Jossalyn Metoxen, Seven Oshkabewisens, Dionne Jacobs, Paige Skenandore, and Aryien Stevens. “Being asked to do this collaboration with Gucci by Lily means so much to our family and our community as a whole,” says Sunshine. “Being an Indigenous artist, showing our people the lengths they can reach is tremendous; This opportunity gave us dreams we didn’t even know we had.”

Gladstone says it was always the plan to incorporate Indigenous perspectives into her Oscars look. “Because like the nomination itself, it’s historic, and meant to be a shared moment by Natives everywhere,” she says. The actor adds that the medium of quillwork felt especially appropriate for the evening, given it is one rooted in tradition. “Quillwork reflects the longest legacy of living craftsmanship in my corner of Indian Country,” she says. “It is hugely culturally significant to so many nations, Blackfeet included. I grew up gazing at quillwork in many forms; in our headdresses, our regalia. The first pair of earrings I ever bought myself were quillwork, made by Bob Tailfeathers from back home.”

Quillwork embellishments being worked on Photo: Courtesy of Gucci

This one-of-a-kind Oscars collaboration certainly didn’t happen overnight. The concept for the design was first ignited back in May, when Gladstone wore both Gucci and Joe Big Mountain to the Kering Women in Motion event. Shortly after that, they decided they all wanted to partner on a special look that—for the first time—would see a high-fashion luxury label collaborate with an Indigenous artist on an Oscars design. “I’ve always dreamed this look would be built around Joe’s stunning work,” Gladstone says. “His hand is immaculate, and his sense of color balance is fresh, unique and unparalleled. You can feel the life in his exquisite pieces.” 

For the Big Mountains, having the opportunity to create for the Oscars was a pinch-me career milestone. “Lily could have picked anyone in the world to design her dress for this monumental moment in her life, and she chose me—just a Native kid who grew up wanting to be an artist, trying to make a living for my family,” he says. “That’s a true reflection of who we are as Indigenous people: No matter the situation, we still want to bring everyone to the table.”

Sabato De Sarno and Joe Big Mountain Photo: Courtesy of Gucci
Sunshine Big Mountain, Sabato De Sarno, and Joe Big Mountain Photo: Courtesy of Gucci

Tonight’s striking Oscars look continues Gladstone’s efforts to spotlight contemporary Indigenous designers like Jamie Okuma and Keri Ataumbi throughout awards season. Her doing so has been a powerful feat, as Native designers rarely get their due in mainstream Hollywood spaces. For her stylist Rembert, it’s made the journey unlike any press run he’s done. “Collaborating with Lily this award season has been nothing short of transformative, marking one of the most enriching and fulfilling chapters of my career,” says Rembert. “We were able to partner with so many talented Indigenous artisans who helped bring all of her looks to life.”

Lily Gladstone’s Oscars after-party look, by Gucci and Joe Big Mountain Photo: Courtesy of Gucci

It’s not the only Gucci and Joe Big Mountain design that Gladstone will wear this evening, either. For the official Vanity Fair Oscars after-party, she’ll change into a second floor-length design: a black dress featuring cape short sleeves, beaded fringe, and quillwork embroidery along the neckline. “The whole team and I can’t wait to see Lily shine on the red carpet,” says De Sarno. 

Lily Gladstone’s Oscars after-party look, by Gucci and Joe Big Mountain Photo: Courtesy of Gucci

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