Viola Davis’ Golden Globes 2021 Gown Was Inspired by ‘African Royalty’
The night before the Golden Globes 2021, Viola Davis, who is nominated for her powerhouse performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, did not post pictures of herself getting awards show-ready. Instead of face masks and manicures (yes, actors still enlist full glam squads for Zoom), Davis posted the following message to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, of which not a single member of the 87-strong governing body is Black.
Viola Davis’s 2021 Golden Globes fashion moment had an impactful meaning behind it.
The multi-hyphenate star wanted a dress that “spoke to her specifically as a Black woman,” according to her stylist Elizabeth Stewart, so Davis and Stewart collaborated with Black designer Claude Kameni, the founder of the Los Angeles-based brand Lavie By CK.
“It’s all about rethinking glamour and couture on the red carpet in the age of diversity and inclusivity,” Stewart tells PEOPLE. “It’s still an arena that needs cultural specificity.”
Calling the look “bold, vibrant and strong, just like Viola,” Stewart says the custom gown designed by Kameni was “inspired by African royalty.”
“Viola is royalty to me,” Stewart shares.
The dress features a silk cotton African print from a fabric that is made in Kameni’s home country of Cameroon, where the designer’s love of fashion began.
Davis has worn Kameni’s designs before, including in the spread for her 2020 Vanity Fair photoshoot. The designer took to social media to share her excitement over working with Davis once again on this memorable Golden Globes fashion moment.
“It was such a pleasure making this gown for @violadavis. Finding out she would wear it to the @goldenglobes awards was the icing on the cake. She definitely violated the gown. We wanted to create a dress that showcased viola in a different light but still make it her own sense of style. We nailed it,” she wrote.
Davis teamed her meaningful gown with Stuart Weitzman shoes, Pomellato jewelry, a Gabo Guzzo clutch, and a beautiful hair and makeup moment created by Jamika Wilson and Autumn Moultrie, respectively.
Makeup pro Moultrie created Davis’ glowy beauty moment using items from L’Oreal’s Revitalift Age Perfect makeup collection, including the Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation SPF 50 and Age Perfect Radiant Concealer with Hydrating Serum under the eyes and to highlight cheekbones.
On the eyes, Moultrie opted for a bold dark look using Age Perfect Satin Glide Eyeliner in Black followed by Voluminous Mascara. To complete the look, lips were lined with Age Perfect Anti Feathering Lipliner and topped with Age Perfect Satin Lipstick.
“We wanted the dress to take center stage, so we chose to keep Viola’s makeup minimal,” Moultrie tells PEOPLE. “I loved Viola’s choice of color for the dress because her bold choice redefines the notion of beauty and what it means to be adorned. Her choice recognizes the cultural specificity of African cloth as beautiful, as something to be worn to an awards show not only the European designers.”
Moultrie adds that working with Davis is always a collaborative process.
“Viola always has a sense of what she wants before I walk in, but we work together to create the final look,” she says. “The dress always helps choose the direction for glam and for last night’s look, we wanted the powerful bold colors of the dress to take center stage.”
Davis has been a mainstay on the Golden Globes red carpet over the past decade and never shies away from bold color or statement-making accessories.
Some of her biggest hits?
The velvet Brandon Maxwell gown with a sweetheart neckline (teamed with a 111-carat Harry Winston necklace, plus a Tyler Ellis clutch!) worn in 2018, the vibrant yellow, one-shoulder Michael Kors Collection sequin gown in 2017, a romantic and ethereal crystal-covered Marchesa gown in 2016 and a strapless fire engine red Donna Karan Atelier creation in 2015.