The Revenant's Duane Howard outfitted by Haida designer for Academy Awards red carpet
Dorothy Grant had one week to stitch outfit that could be seen by millions at Oscars
It's a designer's dream to dress a celebrity for the Academy Awards, but most designers couldn't step up to the challenge of stitching together an outfit on one week's notice.
That's exactly what happened to Haida designer Dorothy Grant, who was asked to outfit The Revenant actor, Duane Howard.
The opportunity to design for Howard came as a surprise, since six weeks ago he wasn't even invited to the event. Howard told Grant that he approached Leonardo Dicaprio to demand an invite, arguing the need to have indigenous representation at the Oscars.
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"He said [to Leonardo], 'I'm sharing this award with First Nations, Native Americans and the indigenous people of the world.'" Grant recalled Howard telling her.
"Lo and behold only a week ago he was invited to the Oscars," said Grant.
<a href="https://twitter.com/DuaneE_Howard">@DuaneE_Howard</a> Aka "Elk dog" of REVANENT wearing Dorothy Grant Eagle/Raven shawl collar tuxedo. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Oscar2016?src=hash">#Oscar2016</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Oscar?src=hash">#Oscar</a> <a href="https://t.co/IFLfEcInGG">pic.twitter.com/IFLfEcInGG</a>—@dorothygrant
'I'm so happy he chose to wear my tuxedo'
Before becoming a fashion designer, Grant was a fabric artist, regalia maker, and Haida artist. In the 1980s she turned heads when she started incorporating her Haida art with her clothing designs. In 2015 the Vancouver-based designer received an Order of Canada, and she continues to be a role model for young indigenous designers and entrepreneurs.
With only a week to design an outfit for Howard, Grant is proud of her accomplishment.
"It was a lot of work. We had to fast kick into action, and make it up for him really, really quickly. Believe me that was record time, but I did it."
"The whole final look on him is absolutely exquisite, … with a white arrow point tuxedo shirt, fine pleats in the front, with really nice black jeweled buttons on the tuxedo shirt, and nice cufflinks," said Grant.
"I just fitted the suit to him impeccably."
With the outfit complete, Grant hopes the world will get a chance to see her design, but is skeptical Howard will receive the airtime he deserves.
"Hollywood can be a very fickle place, like the fashion world is — they could choose to showcase him or they could choose not to," said Grant.
If The Revenant does win the award for best picture, Grant and Howard have a plan that will guarantee her design will be seen. As the crew is running to the stage to accept the award, Grant instructed Howard to "make sure you wiggle your way right to the front."
The final fitting… was very emotional for me, because it was a realization he was representing all the First Nations and they're so proud of him, and it was an accumulation of a lot of years.-Dorothy Grant, Haida clothing designer
Behind the glitz and glam, Grant said Howard's presence at the Oscars means a lot more about the role of indigenous people in cinema.
"The final fitting… was very emotional for me, because it was a realization he was representing all the First Nations and they're so proud of him, and it was an accumulation of a lot of years."
"How far we've come, as First Nations people to arrive at a success, and here I am dressing him, and my name will be with him, so I felt like I was collaborating on the largest platform I've ever been on — I'm so proud of him, I'm so happy he chose to wear my tuxedo," said Grant.
Over the years Grant has designed for other well-known clients, including Wes Studi, Rita Coolidge, Mary Louise Parker and Michael Horse.