Februrary 28, 2022When actress Juliana Canfield needed a red-carpet look for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, held on February 27, she knew exactly whom to call. Or rather, her mother did. She reached out to Alexandra Kotur, the former Vogue style director whose partner is famed Vanity Fair photographer Jonathan Becker, a longtime Canfield family friend. The pair instantly clicked, and Kotur had one place in mind to find a gown for the young actress: 1stDibs. They invited Introspective along to the dress fitting at Becker’s studio in Manhattan, where we chatted about personal style, the art of online shopping and the importance of feeling comfortable on the red carpet — to the extent that’s even possible.
The Yale-trained Canfield appears on HBO’s hit show Succession and was nominated with her castmates for a SAG Award in the category of best ensemble in a drama series. (They won!) This was the first nomination — and, indeed, the first awards show — for the actress, who was recently tapped as the female lead in a new limited series from David E. Kelley. After a couple of years when events went virtual or had been outright canceled due to the pandemic, it was also one of Canfield’s first red-carpet experiences, which made the SAG Awards seem all the more monumental — and Kotur’s help all the more essential.
“When I first met Alexandra, I felt like I had to say very little, and she had this trove of sophisticated references,” Canfield says. “Right away, it felt like we were speaking the same language.”
“I love personal style,” says Kotur, who helped guide Canfield in her sartorial choices by first getting a sense of her existing wardrobe and fashion influences, which include Sofia Coppola, Kate Moss and Harper’s Bazaar editor in chief Samira Nasr. She explains that while some celebrities work directly (and exclusively) with specific fashion houses to dress them for events, going the vintage route allows you to wear whatever you want, which is what led her to 1stDibs. “For a young actress, there’s nothing wrong with going to a house,” she told Canfield. “But right now, let’s just have fun.”
The starting point for Kotur’s gown search? “At the moment I’m very into John Galliano for Dior,” Kotur says, referring to the designer’s tenure as creative director of the French fashion house, from 1996 to 2011. “I was talking about him with André Leon Talley, whom I was close to, and he really is the one who discovered John Galliano. I loved to hear him reminisce about how he brought him into Vogue.”
She looked up John Galliano for Dior gowns on 1stDibs, then decided to broaden her criteria. “It was late at night, and I thought, I’m just going to search ‘silk evening gown.’ And a few thousand came up, but I literally just combed through them, and two stood out.” The pieces she zeroed in on were a lilac Versace dress from the 2010 Alice in Wonderland collection, offered by Marilyn Glass, and an unsigned pink gown from the 1960s, offered by VintageCouture.
Kotur ordered both. (“Always take a backup dress, and always take it in your hand luggage,” Kotur advises. “You never know.”) Then she enlisted Gino Balsamo, Halston’s former head tailor, to fit them.
Canfield was thrilled with the choices, and she also appreciated Kotur’s overall approach to fashion. “Because Alexandra has such a good eye and has been cultivating it for many years at the highest level, she doesn’t fall prey to trends or flash-in-the-pan ideas about fashion or style,” the actress says. “Alexandra just wants it to look good.”
In addition to eschewing trends, Kotur also impressed upon Canfield the importance of stocking your closet with some essentials. “I’m not into having a lot of things, but just a few staples,” Kotur says. “You need a good bag and a few good pairs of shoes: a black pair, a metallic pair, and you’re set. Then you have your foundation.”
“I love these dresses because there’s a simplicity to them, but they also have fun colors,” says Canfield, who ultimately picked the lilac Versace and plans to wear the pink gown to a future event. “I think if I were wearing something too over the top, I’d start to panic. It would read on my face, and you’d see a beautiful dress covering a very freaked-out girl.”
As for jitters about the SAG Awards, Canfield said at the time of the fitting, “I don’t know if I’m going to feel nervous. But I’m bringing my dad, and he’ll probably be more nervous than I am.”