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Lupita Nyong’o makes a lasting impression on this season’s red carpet

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It’s been nearly impossible to navigate the Internet or flip through TV channels recently without seeing awards-show season newcomer Lupita Nyong’o. The actress has made a splash in the media recently for her breakout role, playing Patsey in Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave.” Although the role is what put her into the public eye, both her eloquence and fashion sense have made her a household name and an up-and-coming style icon. Though the actress did not set out to create such a fashion frenzy, her sharp taste and elegance on the carpet have made her a style icon who regularly leaves critics and viewers drooling over her outstanding style choices.

A perfect example of the actress’s effortless style is the Ralph Lauren gown she wore to the 2014 Golden Globes. The simplicity of the red dress was certainly not understated as the actress glided across the carpet. Its simple, fitted style was tailored seamlessly to her body, and its off-the-shoulder neckline showed the perfect amount of skin with the right amount of elegance. The look’s most outstanding aspect was the floor-length cape the actress sported that glided over her arms and down her back. One would think of a cape on the carpet as an instant fashion disaster, but she managed to make it look gorgeous and chic as she carried herself with poise. This look caught the eye of critics, even impressing E!’s often scornful Fashion Police.

It seems near impossible that a new actress could consistently make the best-dressed lists, but Nyong’o somehow managed to pick winner after winner, standing out amongst a crowd of more seasoned stars. At the 2014 Screen Actors Guild awards she wore a turquoise Gucci gown that made a serious impact against the carpet’s red tint. The color of the gown looked absolutely gorgeous against her dark skin tone and made her the center of attention amongst the more monotonous colors on the carpet. The gown itself was a simple silhouette that was fitted to her body with a simple straight structure, but what made the dress exceptional was its embellished neckline that was intricate, yet not overwhelming. The floral embellishments matched the beautiful color of the dress and covered the actress’s collarbone, revealing just a small amount of skin between the actual embellishment and the gown. The actress’s makeup and cropped hairstyle were kept simple, leaving all of the attention on the outfit’s ornate centerpiece..

For the 2014 British Academy of Film and Arts Awards ceremony, Nyong’o once again opted for a bright color that made her a standout on the carpet. For this event, she chose a fitted bodice with a flared bottom, a change from the fitted silhouette she wore on previous carpets. The light green Christian Dior Couture gown was once again jaw-dropping as it managed to hit the right amount of both boldness and simplicity; although the dress itself was simple in terms of embellishments, it was dressed up with a metallic gold band belt that cinched her waist and accented her amazing figure.

Her sense for style has also caught the eye of the designers themselves: Calvin Klein chose to create a custom creation for Nyong’o to rock at the 2014 Critics’ Choice Awards. This time, instead of opting for a pop of color and simple structure, she wore a white silk dress in a more intricate cut. The bottom of the dress was fitted and slightly flared with several pleats, making it move beautifully on the carpet, but the top of the dress it is what made it eye-catching. The fitted top featured two peek-a-boo cutouts on the sides, with a simple but graphic V-shaped neckline. The intricate geometric shaping of the gown turned a plain color and silhouette from boring to fashionable, and the crisp white was an elegant and refreshing change for the actress.

Nyong’o can rock more than just the pretty feminine gown: she proved she could stun in a more androgynous look as well during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Instead of a gown, the actress donned a black strapless Veronica Beard jumpsuit. The jumpsuit can be a difficult thing to pull off as the fit and style can leave you looking like you’re wearing onesie pajamas rather than making a fashion statement. Nyong’o proved this stereotype wrong with the outfit’s impeccable fit and her stellar confidence. The strapless bodice was cut into a sweetheart neckline with layered detailing, and the bottom of the jumpsuit was cropped just above her black and white polka dotted shoes, leaving the outfit with a little bit of flair and breaking up the matte black color of the suit.

Whether she is wearing a beautiful florescent gown or a less traditional jumpsuit, Lupita Nyong’o has proven that she is not only an accomplished actress (not to mention producer and director of the 2009 documentary “In My Genes”), but also an unintentional style icon. Her elegant taste and confidence never fail to make her stand out on the carpet, and it seems impossible that she could disappoint with future looks as she works her way further into the Hollywood business.

Kathleen Mullen can be reached at [email protected]

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