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Forget about the speeches. The secret to being an awards season standout is all about the clothes

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Jared Harris has spent months passing through platitudes, catching snatches of conversations with old pals and having cameras flashing at him on red carpets. Now he’s in the homestretch as this awards season wraps up with Sunday’s Academy Awards and the after-parties, including Vanity Fair’s.

Sitting at a kitchen island in a West Hollywood home this week, the “Chernobyl” star turns to an important factor for any awards season. “You know, honestly, the best thing about awards season is the clothes,” Harris says. “The most fun about it is all the clothes you can wear.”

Working with stylist Michael Fusco, the bearded British thespian kicked off his appearances on the latest round of red carpets by wearing Dior Men suits — one in dove gray at the Emmys last September and another in midnight blue at the Golden Globes last month. He shined at the Critics’ Choice Awards in a futuristic plaid suit made for him by Dulce Bestia.

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When you look this good, you’ve already won. Many thanks to @mikeystyles for taking @jaredharris & I on such a colourful journey for all his press & through awards season celebrating #ChernobylHBO!! He, his assistants & the fantastic team at @maisonpriveepr_la have really hooked it up! Jared’s suit, by @dulce.bestia was THE suit of the evening. Hands down!! Also, his @davidyurman studs & cufflinks, AND blue suede @louboutinhomme shoes brought together a truly memorable look. 😻 He looked like a GD rock star, which we ALL KNOW he IS. He was so modern, so I went opposite with a GORGEOUS, old Hollywood GLAMOUR look...gown by the amazing @steven_khalil (with a loop in the train so I could waltz right through the crowd & no one stepping all over me!!!) black velvet & gold crystal gown...my dear @ericacourtneyofficial Tahitian pearls/Golden Beryl/topaz/diamonds & gold flight, and bombshell hair by the magical @alinaratta. Finally, you can’t beat @stevemadden for platforms which not only give you height, but also comfort!! This is the happiest my feet have been ALL awards season! What a truly, truly glamorous evening!!! Thank you to everyone who helped us achieve it. ❤️ And, we ran into Jared’s amazingly talented & blindingly gorgeous cousin, @annabellewallis, whose @cartier diamonds & @moschino gown were DAZZLING. And, our gowns both featured a sort of open/draped shoulder...is this a new trend? #TeamHarris #CriticsChoiceAwards #FamilyAffair #ChernobylHBO #TheLoudestVoice (pics credited to @gettyimages, @jordanbstrauss, & Jared’s personal camera)

A post shared by Allegra Riggio (@allegrariggio) on

He went with a dark rust-colored tuxedo from Hugo for the Screen Actors Guild Awards and later donned a forest-green velvet jacket by Suit Supply at the Producers Guild of America Awards. Fusco accessorized Harris’ ensembles with shoes by Christian Louboutin as well as jewelry by Tacori and David Yurman.

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“I’m not frightened of a pop of color,” Harris says, dressed neatly in a tan T-shirt, blue jeans and a navy blazer adorned with a gold Star Wars pin.

At the 26th Screen Actors Awards, Jared Harris, with wife Allegra Riggio, looks dapper in a dark rust-colored tuxedo from Hugo.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Since his 20s, when he wore a cowboy-style outfit to his younger brother’s wedding and shirts that he now characterizes as “just appalling,” he acknowledges that “I got a good education [in fashion] on ‘Mad Men.’” (Some of the accessories he was given from the 1960s-era series were a pair of tortoise-shell glasses, tie pins and a pocket square that the show’s costume designer, Janie Bryant, created.)

Harris’ wife, Allegra Riggio, agrees. “My husband, who is not a fashion guy, is now a fashion guy,” she says.

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In a midnight blue Dior Men suit, Jared Harris, right, stares down Stellan Skarsgard at the 77th Golden Globe Awards.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Harris and Riggio won’t attend Sunday’s Oscars, but they will be at Vanity Fair’s Oscars party Sunday night for the first time together.

West Hollywood-based Dulce Bestia created another suit for Harris to wear to the A-list soiree — this time, one out of a metallic fabric with an edgy pattern resembling ninja stars.

On this day, his wife is putting thought into what she’ll wear Sunday night. “We don’t like to look like we’re the king and queen of prom, but we do love to look like a couple,” she says.

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Having designed lighting for nightclubs, she knows what looks best in a party setting. And thanks to her Indian, Polish and Italian heritage, the vivacious 45-year-old has a caramel-colored skin and dark hair that complement almost any palette.

“In my heart, I’m a disco queen from the 1970s,” she says. “I want [fashion] to be sparkly. I want it to be fun. I want it to move. I want to have that laugh.”

Experience standout Oscar dresses from the last five decades, including Farrah Fawcett’s disco dress and Billy Porter’s tuxedo gown, in augmented reality.

Therefore, Riggio arrives a couple of hours earlier than Harris to the West Hollywood spot and meets with Denise Weaver, a friend of 10 years and founder of fashion public-relations agency Pistol and Stamen. In the airy living room of a modern house, Weaver has hung gowns that reflect this season’s biggest trends, ranging from bows and bright colors to dramatic sleeves and larger-than-life silhouettes.

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Riggio brings another party option to show Weaver — a silver tuxedo jacket accentuated with a foot of fringe around the hem by Sarajevo-based Kaftan Studio. (The fashion label provided the black and silver gown she wore to the Globes.) Riggio plans to wear the Kaftan Studio jacket to Saturday’s dinner party cohosted by Chanel and British producer and businessman Charles Finch, who once was Harris’ manager.

“Chanel is a real fashion house,” she says between sips of Champagne. “You want to stand out. Kristen Stewart and all those Chanel girls will be there.”

Among the fashion options to wear to Vanity Fair’s party, Riggio tries on a form-fitting dress by Dalia MacPhee embellished with silver sequins that zigzag like zebra stripes. (“‘80s-power bitch” is Riggio’s conclusion.) Also in the mix of looks is a blush pink hand-beaded gown with butterfly sleeves by Este & Chlo.

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In the end, she picks a black halter dress by Este & Chlo with a fringed neckline and high middle slit.

“It’s fun,” she says after twirling around in the look in platform sandals. Plus, she can show off a striking pendant necklace from jewelry designer Erica Courtney above her décolletage.

Allegra Riggio and Jared Harris at the Governors Ball last year. “We don’t like to look like we’re the king and queen of prom, but we do love to look like a couple,” Riggio says.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The sartorial impression that Riggio wants Team Harris to make at the Vanity Fair bash is: “We are always the type of people at a party that are giggling and dancing and having a fun time,” she says.

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A creative consultant for Este & Chlo, Weaver has witnessed the red carpet’s evolution. “It’s been much more experimental,” she says, adding that anyone who’s dressing for a big event “should definitely wear something you’re comfortable in but push the limit a little bit.”

Renee Zellweger in a periwinkle blue bustier gown at the 77th Golden Globe Awards in January.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Some of her favorite red carpet looks at the Globes include Renee Zellweger’s periwinkle blue bustier gown with crystal-embroidered piping by Armani Privé; Margot Robbie’s Technicolor-style bustier top with a long white skirt from Chanel Haute Couture; and Scarlett Johansson’s red voluminous ballgown by Vera Wang.

Weaver says she also liked Jennifer Aniston’s vintage white gown by Christian Dior at the SAG Awards. The red-carpet fashion “sends a fun, festive message,” she says.

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Her fashion prediction for the Oscars red carpet? Noting that celebrities may pare down the sartorial statements they made at the Globes and SAG Awards, Weaver says, “It’s going to be a little more classic.”


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