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How to Make an Iconic Oscar Gown From Scraps

Few people better capture the sublimity and silliness of today’s red carpet spectacle than the artist Angelica Hicks.

The 31-year-old Brooklyn-based Brit started her career as a cheeky illustrator, making a name for herself with fashion drawings that featured winking wordplay, like a model wearing YSL logo earrings with the caption “Yves Dropping.” (Get it?)

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But one day, on a whim, she took to Instagram to replicate a runway look she saw by cutting a hole in a shopping bag and wearing it as a squared-off top. Her ingenuity garnered enthusiastic online praise, so she continued, duplicating a model in a ruffled blouse and cloche hat using crumpled tissues and a mixing bowl. “The humor is in approximating the look as closely as possible,” Hick says. “So it’s this perfectionism mixed with the absurd and a little English deadpan.”

Just a few years later, Hicks now has a career as a social media fashion provocateur, a gonzo Dadaist spinning quotidian household items into runway and red carpet confections, all accompanied by a quick-cut video showing how it came to be. And so, golden Ferrero Rocher candy wrappers become sculptural golden buttons on a Schiaparelli couture gown worn by Maggie Gyllenhaal (who reposted the look on social media, garnering Hicks her first big boost); Glad Press’n Seal plastic wrap replicates the floaty chiffon Prada dress worn by Hunter Schafer to the 2024 Golden Globes; and lettuce from the fridge is used to mimic the green bralette worn by Miley Cyrus on a 2023 cover of British Vogue. Soon, brands like Valentino and Coach came knocking, asking her to harness her magic — and sizable following (285,000 on Instagram, 507,000 on TikTok) — for them; she recently made a DIY version of Loro Piana’s Ghiera bag, for instance.

Hicks in action at THR’s photo shoot.
Hicks in action at THR’s photo shoot.

“What’s so fun is seeing how many of the people responsible for creating these things enjoy what I do,” Hicks observed one January afternoon, surrounded by items that would make a hardware checkout clerk do a double take: garbage bags, zip ties, duct tape.

On this day, for THR, she was re-creating four iconic Oscar dresses from years past. She took feather dusters, furniture pads and black chiffon and turned them into Cher’s skimpy Bob Mackie extravaganza from 1986. “I’d never done a Bob Mackie look, and this one is my favorite. I wanted to challenge myself.” White tights stuffed with socks, tutus and an orange pepper blossomed into Björk’s infamous swan frock from 2001. “I have nearly done this look many times,” says Hicks, who also re-created two Valentino looks, Julia Roberts’ black-and-white gown from 2001 and Zendaya’s crop-top outfit from 2022.

Julia Roberts, Cher, Zendaya and Bjork
Julia Roberts, Cher, Zendaya and Bjork

Hicks’ influences are varied: drag, Us Weekly’s “Who Wore It Better” page, online cooking videos, and the DIY arts and crafts scene, to name just a few. She recalls an early touch point: Her mother was friends with a famous shoe designer who once used Guinness bottles as stiletto heels. “I was partially inspired by those people who go and take Instagram pictures in fake private planes,” she said. “That whole idea of Instagram versus reality.” Indeed, her oeuvre is able to both “take the piss” out of the whole red carpet pageantry and salute it in the same breath.

Angelica Hicks as Julia Roberts
Angelica Hicks as Julia Roberts

Hicks’ videos are a scrappy affair. She records everything herself at home on her iPhone using natural light, propping the phone against a drinking glass on her kitchen table as she pulls the outfit together, comparing it to the reference image on her nearby computer. She rarely practices ahead of time in order to better capture elements of surprise, spontaneity and the process. Should she need additional supplies, she’s a short walk from the craft store Michaels and an Ace Hardware.

Hicks in action at THR’s photo shoot.
Hicks in action at THR’s photo shoot.

“You know, it’s fun and it’s smart,” she says by way of explaining why she thinks her work has gained such a following (Jenna Lyons and Gucci creative director Sabato De Sarno are just some of her fans). “But it’s silly-smart. I often get this comment on TikTok in Spanish, which roughly translates to ‘Poverty will not overcome me, I will get the look.’ Saying, like, regardless of my bank account, I can still be fashion. That’s such an amazing message, because style shouldn’t be elitist.” She grins and her mischievous blue eyes grow wide. “Anyone can have a pair of Manolos,” she says, recalling a silvery pair she created as a present for her aunt, “if they buy some steel wool and stick it on their shoes!”

Hicks in action at THR’s photo shoot.
Hicks in action at THR’s photo shoot.

This story first appeared in the March 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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