Trendsetters: Jewelry Designer Kimberly McDonald Gives FTD The Skinny On The Real Race Behind The Oscars

Michelle Obama in Kimberly McDonald earrings

Michelle Obama Wears Kimberly McDonald Earrings

OSCARS DAY, 2011  — For Oscar viewers, the moment of anticipation arrives when the envelope is being opened. But for the designers hoping to get their gowns, jewelry and shoes on the A-list crowd, the real nail biter has been happening all day today, as they wait in anticipation to see if their designs will be in the spotlight at the coveted event.

Fashion Trends Daily went behind the scenes to chat with fine jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald, who is a veteran of the awards-season tango that ensues each year. We asked her to give us the skinny on the biggest race happening off the red carpet, how she gets her pieces on the stars, when she finds out and if anyone has “slippery fingers.”

McDonald’s ethereal designs, which elegantly pair natural and organic materials such as geodes and agates with natural/untreated gems, have adorned some of Hollywood’s most bold-faced denizens, not to mention one such best-dressed lady in our nation’s capitol. McDonald received the ultimate honor recently when her one-of-a-kind black geode and ruby earrings graced the lobes of Michelle Obama, complementing the crimson Alexander McQueen resort collection dress she wore at the state dinner to honor President Jintao of the People’s Republic of China.

Hillary Swank in Kimberly McDonald at the 2011 SAG Awards

During this awards’ season alone her pieces have been worn by Michelle Pfeiffer when she presented at the Golden Globes, Kelly Osbourne, who covered the red carpet for the Fashion Police in Kimberly McDonald, Hillary Swank and Amy Adams. In case that wasn’t quite enough, Martina McBride rocked the red carpet and opened the Grammys with an Aretha Franklin tribute wearing Kimberly McDonald.

Not too shabby.

So, give us the scoop…

Fashion Trends Daily: What is the Oscars dance like for you?

Kimberly McDonald: All of awards season, leading up to and including Oscars, is a bit nutty. Sometimes you contact stylists or publicists; sometimes they contact you.

FTD: Do you ever pay for placement?

KMD: Because we do not pay to place KMD on celebrities, it is usually a wait-and-see kind of thing, which can be a little unnerving because, of course, you hope for a good result. But I prefer the angst of not knowing to the idea that I would have to pay someone or give them merchandise in order to entice them to wear my pieces. In the end, every placement is special because it is a choice made by the celebrity. The process is organic.

FTD: How far in advance are stylists coming to you or is it all last minute?

KMD: A lot of pulls or requests come in last minute. Even today we were still getting calls. It is exciting!

FTD: Do you know yet if anyone will be wearing your pieces?

KMD: If you are not paying in some way for a placement, you generally have no confirmation until the person steps onto the red carpet. We have a few possible placements for today, fingers crossed!

FTD: Do you loan or do they purchase, or both?

KMD: We loan, and some people buy. Sometimes we loan and subsequently a purchase is made.

FTD: Do you loan for parties?

KMD: To be honest this is a pretty tough year for Oscar placements, so who knows. I think the Vanity Fair party has become the Oscars “lite” inasmuch as designers are also keen to dress top people for this event. Typically, we don’t loan for parties, but will consider it for someone we really dig for VF!

Vanity Fair Party

FTD: on average how long does it take to get your piece(s) back?

KMD: Returns usually take a day or two. Everyone is very responsible and tries to get things back as soon as they can.

FTD: Is there anything you’d like to see more of or changed in this process?

KMD: As a designer, of course I want my work represented on this and other red carpets, but as a fan of fashion as an art form I hope to see more individuality than we have seen lately. The homogenization of fashion on these red carpets is unappealing for two reasons: It is not supportive of new talent and it does not account for individual style. Of course, there are always amazing individuals who do make their choices based upon their personal style.

Where will you be watching the show?

KMD: Probably at the SoHo House [L.A], with friends!

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Author:Michelle Dalton Tyree

Fashion Trends Daily is the brainchild of Michelle Dalton Tyree. She is the former West Coast Retail Editor for Women’s Wear Daily, Fashion Editor for The Japan Times, and founder of former L.A. luxury boutique Iconology. Michelle is frequently quoted about fashion retail trends in major media outlets such as NPR, KPCC, The Inside Source and the New York Times. She has developed content for many luxury brands and retailers and has written for Allure, Worth Global Style Network, Footwear News and other media outlets.