Viola Davis is a woman of many talents. From winning a Tony Award in 2001 for her role in King Hedley II to her Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA for her critically-acclaimed role in Fences alongside Denzel Washington, the 53-year-old has earned awards across the small screen, Broadway and film, making her the only African-American woman to win the Triple Crown of Acting: an Oscar, Tony and an Emmy (the last was for her the starring role as Annalise Keating in Shonda Rhimes’ How to Get Away with Murder).
Despite her many accolades, Davis spent over two decades playing mostly supporting roles in feature-length films. The highly anticipated Widows – a film adaptation by Steve McQueen of the 1983 British series – marks Davis’ first lead role in a major studio film.
The South Carolina-born actress works alongside LA-based celebrity stylist Elizabeth Stewart, who often describes their fittings as “extremely brief” due to Davis’ hectic filming schedule, to keep her red-carpet looks simple. Based on a four-pillar preference – colour, clean, strong and bold – bar a few Brandon Maxwell white tuxedo moments, the pair keep to classic dresses with structured waists and draped skirts, choosing to mix it up with vibrant hues and asymmetric hemlines. They often turn to designers such as Michael Kors, Escada,Marchesa and Zac Posen and Davis tends to finish her look with natural hair and a bare décolletage, save for glistening jewellery as a finishing touch.
Davis’ most recent appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival saw the actress in a black column dress by Elizabeth Kennedy, accessorised with a hand-beaded necklace by House of Yimama, an African brand whose jewellery supports young female designers and creates a platform for artisans to break into the US market.
Ahead of the Widows release, Vogue takes a look back at Davis’ well-honed, red-carpet look.