How Much Does it Cost to Dress for the Oscars, Anyway?

Lupita N'yongo at the 2015 Academy Awards

Lupita Nyong’o at the 2015 Academy Awards

It can take a million bucks to look like a million bucks.

For A-list actresses, walking the red carpet at the Oscars is akin to being bride for a day — only with about 44 million people at your wedding. No pressure. And, of course, every bride wants to be the belle of the ball.

It’s no big Hollywood shocker that prepping for the Oscars is a pricey and time-consuming process. And particularly for those in contention for an award, prepping for the Oscars requires the coordination skills of a Navy Seal team and the budget to match. Even though many designers and jewelers loan out their dresses, shoes and jewelry for the chance to have it showcased to the entire world, it’s still an incredibly costly endeavor. There are stylists to pay to help select dresses for the endless pre-events, the actual day-of and all the after parties, there are makeup artists, hair stylists, manicurists, cosmetic dentists, dermatologists, estethicians — and that’s just the short list.

It got us here at Fashion Trends Daily thinking: What kind of numbers are we looking at?

One source puts the average A-list Oscar actress prep tab at an average of $75,000, and it can run upwards of $3 million and more depending on the dress and the rarity of jewels adorning her — basically the sartorial equivalent of being rolled in 24-karat gold and dipped in diamond sprinkles.

A custom gown can start anywhere from $25,000 and run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Case in point: Cate Blanchett’s 2007 Giorgio Armani Privé Dress was dripping with Swarovski crystals and reportedly cost $200,000 to make.

Tonight, at this year’s 87th Annual Academy Awards, Lupita Nyong’o wore a custom Calvin Klein Xollection halter dress by Francisco Costa with 6,000 natural pearls. No word on the price of that one yet, but we’re going to wager that it will definitely top the price of Cate’s 2007 dress.

Martin Katz jewelry

Martin Katz jewelry

And then there are the gems. (Gulp.)

“We have everything out [for the Oscars] from $2,400 microbands [rings] out to a $16 million ring,” said Kelly Fischer Katz, partner at Martin Katz and wife of the celebrated Beverly Hills jeweler.

Martin Katz has been bejeweling A-list actresses for awards season for the past 23 years and has helped to define the very art of loaning jewelry for awards shows. And that has earned him a special place among Hollywood’s bold-faced denizens — which has frequently led to a purchase after the show.

“In our situation [after doing it for 23 years], it’s more common for people to purchase, and when they win it’s very special, so often times they’ll want to own the piece they wore when they won,” said Ms. Katz.

On that $16 million ring: “He may or may not loan that one out,” said Ms. Katz.

For many A-list actresses, Oscar beauty prep begins far in advance with cosmetic and dental treatments. With a high-wattage smile being prized as one of the best accessories on the red carpet, it’s no surprise that dental treatments such as teeth bleaching and straightening are high on the list of must-do prep. (Snaggle teeth are unofficially verboten on the red carpet.)

Dr. Daniel Azani, an L.A.-area orthodontist who specializes in treatments such as Invisalign, said that it’s important to start thinking about key treatments early as they take time to see results.

“Typically with Invisalign you need at least six months to begin to see results but it depends on how involved is the case,” said Dr. Azani. “Nowadays, almost everyone is a candidate for Invisalign. When it first started, it was meant for previously treated orthodontic cases that had relapsed or easy cases with minor crowding or spacing.”

Lupita N'yongo at the 2015 Academy Awards

Lupita Nyong’o at the 2015 Academy Awards

A few notable names who have used Invisalign, which averages about $5,600, include everyone from Hollywood trendsetters such as Anna Kendrick and Zendaya to Lucy Hale, Katherine Heigl and a slew of others.

So does all of this prep pay off? Celebrity branding expert Jeetendr Sehdev has done the math, and says it sure does– at least if you’re a contender for an award, that is. In a story published earlier this week in WWD, Sehdev, a marketing professor at the University of Southern California, told the publication that taking home an award for best actress, best actor or one of the supporting roles increases a brand’s annual sales by an average of 1.5 percent.

This could be very good news for Calvin Klein and its star designer, Francisco Costa, who dressed Lupita Nyong’o tonight in the pearl dress that has been the most-talked about number on the red carpet. His study revealed that her win for best supporting actress last year for 12 Years a Slave raked in a whopping $63 million in additional sales for Lancôme over the past year.

Impressive? Absolutely. But our favorite figure of all is what the A-list actors get after the awards are over and dresses and tuxes are rumpled, jewels returned and facial muscles begin to recover from a night of non-stop camera mugging: It’s the Distinctive Assets Annual Oscar Nominee Gift Bag, which this year is valued at an all-time high of $160,000.

Gifts include everything from TerraVelo Tours deluxe glamping adventures to a nine-night Italian vacation at luxury hotels Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria (Sorrento), Villa Armena (Tuscany) and Grand Hotel Tremezzo (Lake Como), a 10,000 meal donation made to the animal shelter of their choice from Halo Natural Pet Food (in partnership with, personal training sessions with celebrity trainer Alexis Seletzky and even Naked condoms and The Afterglow Pulsewave Vibrator. Hey, if you don’t win, you can at least head to Italy and pleasure yourself for nine days to ease the pain of all the money put into Oscar prep!

For more fun details, check out our Price of Beauty Oscars Guide

Fashion Trends Daily Oscar infographic, Oscars, Oscar Dressing, Invisalign, Oscar gown,

Exactly what does it cost to get dressed for the Oscars? Fashion Trends Daily breaks it down, courtesy of Invisalign.

(Note: This fun graphic was created by Invisalign to break down the costs a bit. Invisalign has not provided any free product or services to Fashion Trends Daily. All sources and quotes are original.)

Images courtesy Invisalign, Vogue and the Hollywood Reporter 

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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.