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Stylist Julie Ragolia Breaks Down Riz Ahmed and LaKeith Stanfield's Oscars Fashion

E! caught up with first-time Oscar nominees Riz Ahmed and LaKeith Stanfield's stylist to find out what viewers can expect the actors to wear on Hollywood's biggest night.

By Corinne Heller, Amanda Williams Apr 25, 2021 7:00 PMTags
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The 2021 Oscars are almost here! Who's excited for red carpet fashion?

While actresses' gorgeous gowns dominate the Best Dressed lists, the men get a chance to showcase stylish looks too.

We caught up with stylist Julie Ragolia, who gave us a sneak peek of what to expect to see from her clients and first-time Oscar nominees LaKeith Stanfield, nominated for his supporting role in Judas and the Black Messiah, and Riz Ahmed, nominated for his leading role in Sound of Metal, plus his wife Fatima Farheen Mirza.

"I've been fitting Riz and LaKeith through zoom throughout this entire award season and through the press for both of their films," Julie told E! News. "We've been doing everything remotely. I miss them both so much."

On Oscars Sunday, April 25, Julie tweeted, "Oscars day. My first Oscars. Thanks Riz Ahmed and LaKeith Stanfield for these many months (and years) of trust. Much love and luck for tonight."

Check out the stars' chic styles by watching E!'s 2021 Oscars red carpet coverage today, starting at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT, ahead of the Oscars ceremony.

Check out E! News exclusive interview with Julie below:

E! News: What can we expect to see from them on Hollywood's biggest night?

Julie: "I mean, I guess you can expect to see things that are very representative of who they are as people. For me, styling is a conversation about human beings and stretching culture and expressing who people are. I think you'll see their personalities shine."

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E! News: Can you talk to me about the inspiration behind the looks? Did they have any input on what they were envisioning for their Oscars looks?

Julie: "I mean, we talked about having a sense of ease, a commitment to sustainability. I'm not a celebrity stylist by trade, but I work with these guys because I love what it is that they stand for and what they represent culturally and so I'm having these conversations with them. I always think about what they stand for and who they are as human beings. I think expressing the personalities and also thinking about their values, like sustainability, working with brands that have the same commitment, and incorporating that into their looks as well."

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

E! News: Are you able to share a preview of what they are wearing? Anything you can tease?

Julie: "Fatima is wearing a beautiful, beautiful bright color. With Riz, we've been playing with a lot of color throughout all of this award season, so you can imagine that we will take a spin to make something a little bit different than the approaches that he's been taking, but also keeping a consistent statement throughout. On the one hand, there'll be something a little bit different, but on the other hand, we've taken a very consistent theme throughout the award shows thus far and it's really enjoyable. It's really enjoyable to have consistency because then again, it feels like I'm expressing who he is as a person, as opposed to playing dress up, which is always very important for me to express who he is through his looks."

"With LaKeith, where we're always quite playful and you can definitely expect that there will be a similar sense of playfulness, but at the same time, being very conscious of the fact that this is a difficult time for many so there's this constant balance between being respectful to the times and yet being celebratory of a very dynamic interesting wonderful moment for him, and for them both."

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See the 2021 Nominees' First Oscars Red Carpet

E! News: How lovely was it to dress Riz and Fatima as a newly married couple? Did they weigh in on each other's looks?

Julie: "It comes down to expressing who they are as people and really having these intimate dialogues to get to the core of how we express that on something as big as an Oscar red carpet. But of course thinking about how their colors will play with one another and in the balance of tone is very important, but at the end of the day it's like I have the lovely luxury of dressing three beautifully strong communicative humans. That, for me, is key."

E! News: Can you walk me through the process of picking out the outfits for all of them and styling them? How long does the process take and how much preparation goes into it?

Julie: "It's hard, it's funny to say because there's like so much preparation and yet not that much at the same time. Because I take such a philosophical approach to everything that I do, everything really comes down to the story. Because I'm an editorial girl first and foremost, I'm constantly thinking about these ideas since a season before essentially. I have the luxury of working with two very beautiful communicative people, so we talk a lot, so in the sense, I'm preparing for these looks well in advance. But at the same time, it's almost instantaneous, like the second, it comes to mind, I know it's going to be the perfect thing. Without sounding too self-congratulatory, it usually is."

"[LaKeith's outfit] just came out exactly as I thought in my mind. I couldn't be more excited and it's so LaKeith. It's so him. But it's made from sustainable materials as well ,which was very important to us both. It's just very respectful and playful at the time, which is, again, that's what LaKeith's personality is...And then with regards to Riz...it was one of those things, but I just felt it and I knew it would be Riz."

Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

E! News: Are you able to share what a typical fitting looks like during the COVID era, and the preparation that goes into it?

Julie: "I have some of the greatest assistants in various parts of the world, bless them, they are unbelievable. I really wouldn't have done half as much as I've done you know throughout this whole season if it weren't for them and their commitment and their patience. I'm really grateful for having such a wonderful team."

"It's complicated in the sense of, like, just not being able to, you know, touch everything. I have a very clear understanding of their textures and fabrics and tones, back when I would be at runway shows, but from really focusing on that level first, you know, it's my job to know these things, whether they're in my hand or not. I'm just an editor. It all works out."

"I'm a tailoring nerd, I am so OCD about tailoring. In addition to my assistants, I'm so grateful for having brilliant tailors in various parts of the world too, because they're really the ones who can make or break your look. So being so precise about tailoring, as I am, it really enabled us to still work through it. I have microscopic vision when it comes to tailoring. Essentially, it would be like, 'All right Riz, stand there,' 'All right LaKeith, stand there.'"

E! News: How is everyone feeling? Obviously, this is the one of the biggest nights in Hollywood, it's a big deal to be nominated and to be attending. How has everyone been feeling during your fittings?

Julie: "I think everyone is in good spirits, but yet at the same time conscious of everyone else in the world. There's gratitude on all sides and that's the first and foremost important thing."

E! News: What trends do you anticipate we will be seeing on the red carpet tomorrow night?

Julie: "I honestly think the trend will be more of a personal one, and a personality one. I think this award season has put a focus on who we all are as people and who we all are in the world today. I think the trend will be less about wearing particular styles of things or whatnot as much as it will be the trend toward men and women being who they are as people. At least that's what the guys I work with are focused on."

Find out how stylists get their A-listers red carpet ready in our gallery below!

A Man's Gotta Eat...

Hours before the Oscars, stylist Julie Ragolia told E! News she may have caught LaKeith Stanfield eating a burger in his Oscars attire... to be fair, she did tell him not to change as she ran out to grab some watches.

It was later revealed that the Oscar nominee wore a custom Saint Laurent look by the brand's creative director, Anthony Vaccarello.

I Think We Need a Jacket Here

E! News got an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how celebrity stylists have been working with their 2021 Oscar-nominated clients remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

This is a photo of the many jackets Julie Ragolia, stylist to Oscar nominees LaKeith Stanfield and Riz Ahmed and his wife, Fatima Farheen Mirza, has been contemplating for her clients.

Handmade Pin

Julie Ragolia shows an accessory possibility for Riz Ahmed, who is nominated for an Oscar for his leading role in Sound of Metal: A handmade pin made by one of the artisans at the Senhoa Foundation, an organization that uses jewelry as a means to rehabilitate and reintegrate survivors of human trafficking and those vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

"He's so aware of the world around him," Julie tells E! News about the actor. "So, presenting him with things that have greater meaning beyond just aesthetic is and has always been a big part of how we work together."

Sole Mates

Julie Ragolia presents several footwear options for her clients, who also happen to be Oscar nominees. NBD!

All Smiles

LaKeith Stanfield, who is nominated for an Oscar for his role in Judas and the Black Messiah, models an outfit in an updated pic Julie Ragolia shares with E! News. 

"With Lakeith, where we're always quite playful and you can definitely expect that there will be a similar sense of playfulness," she reveals of the actor's Oscars 2021 style plan, "but at the same time, being very conscious of the fact that this is a difficult time for many. There's this constant balance between being respectful to the times and yet being celebratory of a very dynamic, interesting wonderful moment for him."

Your Turn

How the magic is done! Julie prepares to take a self portrait, with the help of a tripod and iPad. She credits her team for helping her navigate styling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, "I really wouldn't have done half as much as I've done if it weren't for them and their commitment and their patience."

She also reveals, "I've been fitting Riz and Lakeith through Zoom throughout this entire award season and through the press for both of their films, we've been doing everything remotely. I miss them both so much."

Glitz and Glamour

The Oscars red carpet is known for bringing the razzle-dazzle. Just ask Wouri Vice, stylist of Andra Day, who is nominated for an Oscar for her leading role in The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Foot Forward

Metallics? Purple? Black? It's safe to say Andra has a tough decision to make come Sunday, April 25, as her stylist presents her with many fabulous options.

Bright and Bold

Wouri Vice shares a colorful display of clothes ahead of the Oscars ceremony.

Gunmetal Perhaps?

Forget the little black dress, Wouri shows a stylish collection of metallic gowns.

Red Hot

Options galore! Will Andra Day walk the red carpet in a delightfully bright gown? Fans will have to wait and see.

Ethereal

A vision in white! Wouri displays an angelic white strapless ballgown. Only time will tell if Andra stuns in the dazzling creation.