When Kate Winslet took to the red carpet earlier this month at the Venice Film Festival in a Stella McCartney bodycon dress, the media could not stop buzzing about her killer curves. Though the Oscar winner has never been shy about embracing her voluptuous figure, her exaggerated hourglass form was actually courtesy of her dress — a color-blocked Octavia number by Stella McCartney.
“It’s like retouching your body with a frock,” says celebrity stylist June Ambrose of the sheath, which retails for $1,595 and is being called the "miracle dress" for its body-sculpting capabilities. The figure-flattering number — one of the “optical illusion” dresses from the designer’s Fall/Winter 2012 collection — focuses the eye with a contoured front panel while its black sides seem to disappear, creating a deceptively smaller waistline.
Winslet is hardly the only A-lister to have relied on the dress’ cunning trickery. Celebrities, including Kate Moss, Sophia Bush, Kelly Ripa, Jane Fonda, and Alicia Keys, have worn the dress, while “The X Factor” judge Nicole Scherzinger graced the cover of InStyle UK in it. Liv Tyler and Penelope Cruz wore electric cobalt-and-black versions earlier this year.
“This has become one of the biggest dresses of the year,” says Sasha Charnin Morrison, the fashion director of Us Weekly. “It’s a body-conscious dress that is so clever, and it’s from a major designer. All of the groovy girls wear Stella. Everyone wants to wear her now.”
Designers like Herve Leger and Alexander McQueen have, in the past, used similar shading techniques. But the Bicolour Octavia is fashioned from a sturdy cotton stretch fabric, which acts like a stylish scuba suit. “It’s gives you that svelte silhouette. In my opinion, this is the perfect dress,” says Ambrose.