Secrets of the Stylish: Getting ready to host the Tony Awards with Ariana DeBose

The Oscar-winner wore a series of stylish looks to celebrate the biggest night in theatre

ariana debose getting ready for the tony awards
Emilio Madrid

Ariana DeBose is having a stellar year. The actress started 2022 with a slew of award nominations, going on to win a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and an Oscar – among others – for her turn as Anita in the critically acclaimed West Side Story remake. A series of high-profile interviews and appearances quickly followed, culminating in her hosting the 2022 Tony Awards on Sunday night – which allowed her to spend an evening celebrating the best of Broadway (where her own career first flourished) from the past 12 months.

And throughout it all, DeBose has been immaculately attired, thanks to styling duo Sarah Edmiston and Zadrian Smith.

"Ariana has this stunning classic fashion sensibility in terms of the colours and silhouettes she gravitates towards," explains Edmiston from backstage at the Tonys. "Her style has also always toyed with just a touch of androgyny."

ariana debose getting ready for the tony awards
Emilio Madrid

But a phenomenally successful past six months has encouraged DeBose to take more risks in the wardrobe department. "She trusts us enough to let us help steer her there," Smith tells us. "She wants to be surprising and memorable, to keep topping our own work."

DeBose herself says that she has embraced her changing relationship with style."Much like identity, my relationship with my body and my style evolves," she tells us. "I’m a woman. I fluctuate, I bloat – one day I’m curvy, one day I’m lean. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t days where I wake up with a bit of body dysmorphia or feel self-conscious, but that’s part of the human experience, so I try to choose clothes that embrace and flatter the body that I have."

Much like identity, my relationship with my body and my style evolves

Styling DeBose for a night hosting the Tony Awards, which involved multiple looks in a very short space of time, was certainly a challenge. "I always say our studio loves to work on a full press tour, for example, because we love a narrative," says Smith. "It feels so creative to get to put together a cohesive story told over several looks. With the host of an awards show, you get to do that, and on one of the biggest stages with the highest stakes given that the Broadway community is so important to Ari."

ariana debose getting ready for the tony awards
Emilio Madrid
ariana debose getting ready for the tony awards
Emilio Madrid
ariana debose getting ready for the tony awards
Emilio Madrid

DeBose herself described the evening as "a moment to come home". "This night wasn't about me," she tells us. "It was about celebrating the community and about everyone else, and I just wanted to celebrate with them."

The styling duo partnered with the team at the German luxury label Boss on not one, but eight custom-made looks, designed specially for DeBose by the brand's new creative director, Marco Falcioni. "We always research inspiration images and in this case we sat down with Ariana and the Boss team and had a brainstorm for how we could portray the brand in a way that they hadn’t been seen before," says Edmiston. "Also, custom is always a little stressful because there’s the risk that it may not be finished in time," adds Smith. "It’s wild, but it happens. We had tailors sewing until the very last minute." They finished the look with glittering jewellery by sustainable lab-grown diamond label Or & Elle for her red-carpet arrival.

ariana debose getting ready for the tony awards
Theo Wargo
new york, new york   june 12 ariana debose performs onstage during the 75th annual tony awards at radio city music hall on june 12, 2022 in new york city photo by kevin mazurgetty images for tony awards productions
Kevin Mazur
new york, new york   june 12 ariana debose performs onstage at the 75th annual tony awards at radio city music hall on june 12, 2022 in new york city photo by theo wargogetty images for tony awards productions
Theo Wargo

"Boss was an incredible partner and being the first-time host of a major awards show, you need to feel like a boss," laughs DeBose. "We were able to create memorable looks that were host-appropriate yet personal and unique." When it comes to deciding which brands she partners with, the singer-actress says it's actually very simple, because she's "a loyalist".

"I work with brands where we can find a shared creativity where I’m inspiring them and they’re inspiring me," she explains. "I work with brands that see me, that honour all body types, that are powerful."

ariana debose getting ready for the tony awards
Emilio Madrid
ariana debose getting ready for the tony awards
Emilio Madrid

You might imagine that such a tall styling order would result in some chaos backstage, but Smith says it was the opposite. "I actually commented to my team that the Tonys is a beautiful place to be backstage," he says. "Everyone is hugging in the wings and complimenting each other’s work – it feels like a family. The theatre community are a really inclusive and welcoming group... The hectic part came beforehand; when we were having the team hand carry the clothes from Germany and we were worried about shipping delays!"

ariana debose getting ready for the tony awards
Emilio Madrid

ariana debose getting ready for the tony awards
Emilio Madrid

You might wonder why eight looks in one night is necessary – fashion has a reputation for being frivolous, after all – so why does what we wear matter?

"The Miranda Priestly monologue," DeBose answers succinctly, referring to the now iconic cerulean sweater speech delivered so cuttingly by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. "It also matters because I believe in dressing for the jobs we want and the people that we want to be."

ariana debose getting ready for the tony awards
Emilio Madrid

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