Janelle Monáe's Oscars Dress Featured 168,000 Hand-Embroidered Crystals and Took 600 Hours to Make

Nobody shines like Monáe!

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If you're still debating the recipient of your own personal "Best Dressed" Academy Award, allow me to draw your attention to the dazzling intricacy of Janelle Monáe's Oscars dress (opens in new tab), a bejeweled, hooded Ralph Lauren number fit for futuristic space royalty (bet you $100 you can't suggest a better description of Monáe). According to Ralph Lauren, the dress "combined lacquered silk lamé tulle with three sizes of faceted crystals"—over 168,000 crystals, to be precise.

What's more, all 168,000 of those crystals were embroidered onto the gown by hand, taking a total of 600 hours to stitch. Which is the equivalent of 25 non-stop days without so much as a bathroom break, which is more time than I suspect I will ever devote to anything in my life?

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If you missed the Oscars last night (or just indirectly absorbed the event via your Twitter timeline), Monáe's opening performance is absolutely worth catching up on. For one, she called out two of the major criticisms of this year's ceremony: the overwhelming whiteness of the nominees, and the absence of any women in the best director category. "Parasite, it’s time to shine," she sang, as the Guardian recaps (opens in new tab), continuing, "it’s time to come alive, cause the Oscars, it’s so white."

"Tonight, we celebrate the women who directed phenomenal films," Monáe went on to declare. "I’m happy to stand here as a Black queer artist telling stories. Happy Black History Month."

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Watch, too, for Billy Porter's standout rendition of Elton John's "I'm Still Standing," Monáe in Florence Pugh's terrifying Midsommar floral coat, and Brad Pitt's absolute horror at the prospect of audience participation. Delightful!

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Emily Dixon
Emily Dixon

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.