How Lily Gladstone’s Gucci Oscars Look Pays Tribute to Indigenous Design

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.”

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