The annual BAFTAs provide the chance to showcase not just the best in film, but the very finest in red-carpet fashion. Such a special night means that you can always rely on beautiful custom and couture gowns, with the stars and their stylists pulling out all the stops.
Sheila Atim – one of our February cover stars, who always knows how to make an entrance – was one of the night’s very best dressed in shimmering silver Prada, complete with matching opera gloves and sparkling Chopard jewellery.
Here, she takes us through her getting-ready process, why Prada is such a great fit for her and why fashion is anything but frivolous.
Talk us through your look for the BAFTAs
“I’m wearing a beautiful silver – almost mercury-coloured – Prada dress with Chopard jewellery. I’m prepping my skin by having a wonderful Dr Barbara Sturm facial to get my skin glowing and ready beforehand.”
How involved are you with the styling process?
“I’m very involved. My stylist Abisoye Odugbesan is very forensic, so her eye for detail is brilliant. We work really well together because our tastes are very similar, but we’re also good at pushing each other and expanding our ideas on what we’d like to try next. Prada is a brand that’s been instrumental in this and their dressing suggestions have broadened our horizons on what’s possible for us as a team.
“I love the detail and anything creative. Obviously, I’m an actor by trade, so I love any opportunity to get stuck in with creating looks – I’m very vocal in giving my opinions. I see the project as beyond just a nice dress to wear, it’s a chance to create something and to collaborate.”
What makes Prada such a great fit for your style?
“I have great admiration for the brand, for Mrs Prada and everything she’s built; it’s managed to maintain such a unique sense of style. Throughout the years, there’s always been a touch of energy, elegance and edge. Everything always feels very current, but classic at the same time, which is why it sits perfectly with me. Every time they pull something for me to wear in a fitting, I love it and it works. It always seems to be serendipitous with the nature of the event, what the film is about or what I’m trying to represent at that moment.
“I really enjoyed going to Prada’s show in Milan last year. It’s always more like an immersive experience and way beyond just a fashion show. It’s very theatrical which I love, as I worked in theatre before I started doing onscreen so it really appeals to me and feels like a natural fit. Personally, I aspire to have that classic feel with something that’s a little different. It’s a hard balance to strike, but as a brand, they do it so well.”
What kind of outfits make you feel your most confident?
“It sounds obvious, but anything that I feel comfortable in. So often we try to contort ourselves into something that doesn’t really speak to who we are inside. Being comfortable is all that matters, as it allows you to extend yourself and what’s already a part of you in what you wear. Personally, I can be a little lazy and like something you can throw on easily but still looks great. That’s something I love about Prada; it fits perfectly and feels so effortless, but there’s still something about it.”
How has your style evolved over the years?
“I was a proper tomboy when I was a kid; there was a whole period of time where I don’t think I wore a skirt or dress. That evolved over the years, or I’d wear a skirt with some trainers to try and offset it somehow. Now I wear gowns as I’m invited to events that have a dress code, so I’m stepping into that and it’s been a really interesting journey. For this, I feel very thankful to my agent and publicist who were very supportive and involved with the process as well.
“As I’ve evolved, I’ve put fewer restrictions on myself when it comes to what I can and can’t wear. Now, it’s more about what I’d like to wear and finding a way to make that work for me. Whether it’s about how I accessorise it, the colour, the fit or how my hair and make-up works with it. I like trying to say something new and removing any preconceived ideas about how I should look for an event and just go with the flow.”
How has your confidence developed on the red carpet?
“I still get nervous – it’s an intense but really wonderful thing. You spend all this time crafting a look and talking to designers, stylists and publicists. Then it’s over in one moment that is 15 seconds of flashing lights. What I feel so aware of is that I’m not only representing myself, but also the brand, the stylists, the jewellery brands, the facialists, the hair and make-up teams and everybody who’s contributed to the whole process. I want to present their work in the best possible light. I’ve got into a thing where I’m always fixing my own train – I’m wearing a lot of trains now which is funny as someone who didn’t ever wear dresses – because I really want to get the shot. From then on, I can relax and walk into the venue feeling good about myself.
“The red carpet can feel like a lot, so I’ve really learned to take my time and relax. There’s so much goodwill behind me and a lot of people working hard to make the look work. Everyone wants to have fun and you’re usually there to celebrate something, so make sure to celebrate yourself in the process.”
What has been your most memorable fashion moment over the past few years?
“Well, there’s been quite a few that have been Prada-related, so it’s been wonderful to be able to wear the brand again. When I went to the Cannes Film Festival last year, I wore a beautiful crushed velvet dress in burnt orange with Chopard jewellery. That felt very memorable and it’s so nice that these relationships come back around – you get to feel part of these extended families and go on these creative journeys together. You get to know them more and they get to know you more. It feels good to support these brands lifting you up when you’re walking on the red carpet or onto the stage. It’s as if they’re saying ‘we support you and we celebrate you’.”
What is your ideal getting-ready set up?
“I have to have some music going, something that’s a little soulful and upbeat but not too much. Nerves can be high, as everyone’s trying to get the look. Facials also help – these can be very long days, so it helps to start off relaxed with a fresh glow. I love Dr Barbara Sturm’s approach, as it tackles inflammation as well as having a Darker Skin Tones range.
“To be honest, it doesn’t really matter to me where I get ready, whether it’s at home or in a hotel. The most important thing is having my team around me and I really love them all. They’re such great people and so fun to be with, so it feels like one big hangout – as if we’re getting ready for a night out, except it’s just me going out. It feels so special to have a lovely team around you.”
Whose style have you always admired and why?
“Zoë Kravitz, as she always has intriguing twists on classics. There’s something very understated about what she does, but it’s also uniquely her. When she steps onto the red carpet, it’s like you can feel her through the pictures as she’s completely in her element and that’s something I aspire to. I’m working on that with every event. I really love what she wears and have always had her as a reference in my mind whenever I’m thinking about new looks.
“Often when you’re in the public eye, there’s an adjustment period where you have to understand yourself more than you had to before when you were just dressing for yourself. Now it’s a whole different thing and you have to try to bring as much authenticity as you can. It can take a little bit of time to find yourself with it and it can feel overwhelming when you’re going to an event where there are lots of cameras and people looking great. How can you walk in and turn up as your best self? Once you start hitting that groove, it’s a really wonderful feeling.”
Fashion has a reputation for being frivolous, but why does what we wear matter?
“In the most fundamental way, it matters because everyone wears clothes. We are social people who interact with each other, so everyone has to go out into the world and present themselves. We all want to present the truest version and the best one, so we are able to do that through the medium of fashion which is a method of expression. You can physically wear how you feel and who you are. You can use fashion however you want; it’s completely at your disposal. With the red carpet, these moments are important for actors like me who are only seen through the prism of a character that they’re playing; we get to get to have a little glimpse into who we are. When I was younger, being able to see people expressing themselves in a certain way had a big impact on me. It’s important for fashion to not be frivolous, but fun. To be exploratory for people to enjoy it. It’s there to be enjoyed. So, why not?”
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