When it comes to cultivating a red carpet identity, lead actress nominee Jessica Chastain hasn't exactly been consistent since she burst on the scene in 2011. Last year alone, she went minimalist-modern in coral Calvin Klein at Cannes, evil fairy godmother in a crinkled, corseted and crystal-embellished Louis Vuitton gown at the Met Ball, over-the-top baroque in a heavy, black-and-gold brocade Alexander McQueen gown at the Oscars and everything in between.
But with numerous public appearances in recent weeks to promote dual successes on Broadway in "The Heiress" and on screen for her role as CIA operative Maya in "Zero Dark Thirty," it seems like Chastain's personal brand of chic may finally be coming into focus.
With her fiery red locks and pale complexion, Chastain is best when she keeps things light and fun. Let's call it playing the English rose with a twist. Here are a few recent examples of how she has pulled it off.
No. 1: Bold color
The Stella McCartney dress Chastain wore for the opening party for "The Heiress" in November in New York City is anything but your average ladylike lace frock. The sunny lemon hue and asymmetrical neckline are cheerful with an edge. And the side-swept hairstyle plays nicely off the asymmetry.
No. 2: Daring details
The electric blue Elie Saab cocktail dress she chose for the Hollywood premiere of "Zero Dark Thirty" in December is both girlish and sexy, with a sheer lace bodice, fitted skirt and flirty peplum. Strappy gold Charlotte Olympia sandals provide a strong anchor for the look.
No. 3: Playing with print
It's not every actress who is willing to wear a floral print, which can read ditzy and dizzying on camera. But Chastain nails it. Why? The graphic panels of rose blooms on this Preen dress, worn to a "Zero Dark Thirty" photo call in New York in December, ensure she looks sweet but not sickly so.