The white sculptural gown from Ukrainian brand Lever Couture’s AW22 Leleka Couture collection was one of the most-talked-about looks at Sunday’s Academy Awards, with its voluminous fabric that stretched around and above the seats at the Dolby Theatre.
While she won praise from the fashion community, her look also spawned jokes and memes as social media weighed in on the view-obstructing gown.
“Imagine waiting your whole life to be at the Oscars and you end up sitting behind a stratus cloud,” tweeted one person, while others expressed sympathy for the person seated behind her.
“tems got that lady fighting for her life,” joked another.
Tems seemed to hear all the chatter and responded, tweeting, “Oops” alongside a smiling face emoji.
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, she revealed why she chose the show-stopping number.
“Two years ago, I would’ve said no to this dress,” she said, “but it’s my first Oscars — I am going to go all out. I really wanted to make the most of the day. The dress is also my way of celebrating my work and the people around me, celebrating my country, and celebrating the people that are rooting for me. This dress says, ‘Yes, yes, I am here!’”
The singer’s stylist, Dunsin Wright, also opened up about the head-turning dress. “At the start of the year, Tems said she’s entering a new era. That played on my mind as I considered the perfect outfit for the Oscars. We wanted something that felt quite delicate but powerful, something that made her feel ethereal,” Wright said. “It was a bold option, but I was confident that if anyone could wear it the way it needed to be worn, it was Tems. She is so graceful and confident, and she makes every piece her own.”
Tems became the first Nigerian person to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song for her work on Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but she admits that Oscar was not on her bucket list.
“When I first started out, this was not on my list of things I needed to do,” she said. “But honestly, I am honored. It’s the first time I’m in this space, and it just gives me motivation to keep going and do more and reach my maximum potential.”