Olivia Culpo first met Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman when she was a guest judge on Project Runway. And so began a beautiful friendship—one that developed into a partnership, as Culpo wore Marchesa on the Oscars red carpet this year to raise awareness for Stella Artois’ efforts to raise money for Water.org through its “Buy a Lady a Drink” program.
We chatted with Culpo, Chapman, and Keren Craig (the other half of Marchesa) about the project—and got them to share their beauty must-haves and exercise secrets with us while we were at it. Ahead, learn about Culpo’s dress—which featured hundreds of tiny glass beads made of the glass from Stella Artois’ special-edition chalices—and about the importance of supporting Water.org. (For every chalice sold, Stella Artois donates five years of clean drinking water for one person in the developing world via the philanthropic organization.)
StyleCaster: Is this something that you’ve been passionate about for a long time, or is this a new partnership?
Olivia Culpo: I got involved with this because I’ve been friends with Marchesa for a while. Georgina and I met on Project Runway. The collaboration began because of Stella Artois, their campaign, Buy a Lady a Drink. The idea is that for every chalice that’s bought, five years of drinking water will be provided for someone in the developing world. For me, it was just a really great collaboration, because I love Marchesa. It’s an opportunity to give back and lend my voice to the global water crisis.
There are little glass beads on the dress that are made of the actual chalices, right?
So, that’s one of the surprises that I discovered. The overall theme is of course, water, just to continue the conversation about the campaign. It will hopefully encourage people to buy the chalices, it’s really what I’m trying to promote. They’re $13, and one of them will provide five years of drinking water, so it’s kind of a no-brainer.
Have Marchesa designed pieces for you before, or is this the first time?
This is the first time they are designing a custom gown for me. I feel way too lucky to have that happening. It’s just even more incredible that it’s for such a good cause. It’s really not about me, it’s about the conversation around the global crisis and for me and Marchesa and, I think, everybody, it’s also about women empowerment. A lot of people in these developing communities who are affected by the crisis are women, because they’re the ones who have to go and get the water.
How do you prepare for an awards show?
I always recommend drinking a lot of water. I do a lot of masks. I love SK-II sheet mask, I love the Adore 24-Karat Gold Mask, I love the Hanacure Mask. I always do some kind of mask before, drink a ton of water, and lay off of caffeine and anything else that will dehydrate the skin. Hanacure is brand-new, and it’s amazing. This sounds weird to say out loud, but I actually went online and bought so many of them, which is kind of strange, because you’d think they’d send them to me to try, but I was like—I can’t wait, I need them right now.
There are always weird trends floating around, like Selena Gomez’s sweat bed. Do you do any weird beauty prep?
That’s a good question. This is definitely not out of the box, but I like to exfoliate before, because I think it definitely adds a glow to your skin. I think that’s really important, exfoliating your body. Sometimes I’ll put ice cubes under my eyes if I think that I’m puffy, but that’s pretty much it. I’ve never tried a sweat bed, but it sounds really good.
And what about working out? What do you like to do?
I’ve recently become obsessed with SoulCycle, just because it’s the easiest, quickest workout. It’s 45 minutes, which is really helpful when I have a busy schedule. Also, they’re everywhere, so convenient. I also love barre, and I love pilates. But another thing that I recommend is stretching in general. When I’m traveling it’s not always easy to get to the gym, so I’ll stretch a lot or I’ll go use the treadmill.
Do you have an exfoliator that you particularly like?
I use my Clarisonic for my face, but for my body I’m so obsessed with the line Adore. They have the greatest exfoliating body scrub. It’s a scrub for the body and it’s incredible. They also have a moisturizer for afterwards. I love it.
Is there anything else you need to get physically or mentally prepared for an award show?
I think it’s important to try your pose beforehand. Sitting is also another thing to think about. It’s really important to stay in a good headspace and not get too stressed out and anxious. If you’re not going to have fun, what’s the point? When you’re stressed or anxious it shows up on your face.
I never thought about practicing your sitting pose!
Every dress is different. If there’s a slit, you need to make sure that leg is showing. If there’s a slit that’s too high, you need to make sure too much leg isn’t showing. You always have to be careful and make sure it works when you’re sitting. You want to look back on pictures and think that you did a good job.
Next, we spoke with Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa about the one-off dress they designed for Culpo, the necessity of finding valuable causes to support, and, of course, their top beauty and exercise tips as well.
StyleCaster: Tell me more about your partnership with Olivia Culpo.
Georgina Chapman: I met Olivia properly for the first time when she actually came on Project Runway All Stars. And so I got to spend the day with her then, and we had a wonderful day and she was great on the show and gave wonderful fashion critiques. And, obviously, she’s a beautiful girl. So we were thrilled to dress [her]. And she came to our last show as well.
Keren Craig: Yeah, she’s a sweetheart.
So, for the dress–do they take a chalice and then melt it down to make the beads?
KC: The most important aspect of it for us is actually incorporating beads made from the chalices into the dress. So that’s our one mission with it, and to, you know, really echo the concept of bringing clean water to people. One chalice equals five years of clean water, so it’s really amazing.
Can you talk more about the process of creating a dress like this?
GC: We work in a very organic way, you know, things from sketch to the real-life dress can honestly do a 360-degree turn. And, as Keren said, I think, for us, the idea is this dress really wants to reflect water. We want people to look at this and feel the liquid quality of it, really, because this is a dress about charity, which is bringing clean water to people and helping provide that. So, I think for us, it’s really important to feel the messaging is strong, while also being very Marchesa.
Have you ever done a dress for a celebrity for a special cause like this?
KC: No, not like this. It’s the first time!
Do you have any particular things you do before a red carpet?
GC: Well, I always see my dermatologist Patricia Wexler, she is, like, the key to my world. So, she is my number one, I think both for Keren and I. She does this wonderful thing that’s, I think she calls it the wedding exfoliation, anyway, I don’t know what she does but your skin is like—amazing. So, that’s rather great. Keren and I like to generally maintain, and I have a wonderful trainer that comes to my house, Jackie Meyers, who I swear by. She is incredible.
KC: She is amazing.
What does she do that’s so amazing?
GC: She manages to keep me doing it. That’s what’s amazing. You know, she’s fantastic. And she lets me, I don’t know what she does, but anyway, I can drink a lot of Stella Artois and still be fine, so we’re all good.
Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.