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West Side Story's Paloma Garcia-Lee gets Oscars ready with HFM

HELLO! Fashion Monthly went behind the scenes with West Side Story and Broadway star Paloma Garcia-Lee

West Side Story's Paloma Garcia-Lee has spent the last four months traveling the globe honoring her first Hollywood movie. So what does one wear for the grand finale of that celebration, the 2022 Oscars?

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For Paloma, it's a custom-made Patrick McDowell design in collaboration with Red Carpet Green Dress. The strapless dress is a deep royal green with a sweetheart neckline, mid-low hemline and a train; elegant and classic, and a dress that marries Paloma's personal style with an element of surprise.

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West Side Story has seven Oscar nomninations

"I have never worn this color and that is huge for me," Paloma tells HELLO! Fashion Monthly from her hotel room at the Thompson Hollywood.

"I had never been drawn to it - I love red and white and black - and I didn't know how it would work but the trust that I put in Patrick - that he would create a green that is classic and beautiful - was a huge step outside of my comfort zone. Plus the shape does push me a little bit in new ways while also honoring what I feel comfortable in."

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A passion for sustainability led to her working with Red Carpet Green Dress, which was launched in 2009 by actress and environmental advocate Suzy Amis Cameron, who has gone on to dress the likes of Naomie Harris, Marlee Matlin, and Sophie Turner.

Each year they work with a new designer in partnership with Tencel™ and Clo, and this year it's British-based up and comer Patrick McDowell, a Central Saint Martins alum who also has the backing of Burberry.

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Paloma has paired with Red Carpet Green Dress

"About a year ago I started to really become more aware of sustainability," shares Paloma.

"To me it used to seem like such an unattainable thing, 'What impact can I actually have?' and then I was introduced to other brands, an amazing denim company called Unspun and I realized that just buying a pair of jeans does make a positive impact. So I changed my home cleaning products as well and it's now at the point where I almost only use recycled fashion - Poshmark or vintage - or give clothes a second life with new tailoring."

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The partnership with Red Carpet Green Dress therefore "felt like I had manifested it in a way," says Paloma.

"I could not think of a better cause, bringing sustainable fashion to the hottest carpet of the year is the freshest idea."

As for working with Patrick, the actress and dancer was not familiar with his work but has enjoyed spending this awards season discovering new names and ensuring she doesn't get "locked into the same seven designers".

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Paloma worked with Patrick McDowell for the design

Patrick reached out to Paloma over Instagram which she thought was "charming" and the two soon began working together on designing the look.

"Patrick is brilliant and so fresh and so classic, and that is what I loved - a complete marriage of new and timeless, all at once. His sense of tailoring and shape is exquisite."

Paloma shared "dream visions of what I would wear to the Oscars" and from those mood boards Patrick sent her sketches allowing her to cherry pick parts from each design.

"I said, 'I love the shape here but the train here,' and even at our first fitting he included straps as an option. How beautiful it is to feel a designer care so much about how I feel - it is often not the case."

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Ariana and Paloma as Anita and Graziella in West Side Story

Sunday finds Paloma preparing for the biggest day in an actor's career - walking the Oscars red carpet for a film which has numerous nominations; West Side Story, directed by Steven Spielberg, is up for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress for Paloma's best friend of 13 years, Ariana DeBose.

Being with Ariana on that special day "will be one of the greatest privileges of my life," says Paloma.

Her day started at 8am with a lymphatic drainage massage and a face massage from FaceGym; "I am not a morning person," she jokes.

Her team then arrived at 9am because their rhythm is one of "no rush". "We like to play music and really give ourselves time," says Paloma.

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Saint Jane Luxury Body Serum, $58, and Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation, $68, both Sephora

She has been using CBD products from Saint Jane in the weeks leading up to the big day which have been keeping her skin hydrated during a busy final few weeks, and it's also important for Paloma to use "clean female-owned brands".

"My skin looks incredible," she boasts after sharing she has also been using all-clean facial products, and giving a shout out to Olga Lorencin, facialist to the stars including Halle Berry and Gal Gadot.

Her make-up artist Courtney Hart will be using a variety of products including Danessa Myricks, Chanel and Charlotte Tilbury but Paloma says she has been enjoying the Giorgio Armani foundations recently.

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Paloma chose pieces from Los Angeles-based jewlery designer Roseark 

"Walking a carpet of this magnitude, it's important to feel a sense of agency over how I look," shares Paloma, revealing that she has been practicing sitting and posing in the gown - and even hints that she may perform a dance or two on the carpet "considering how long it is".

Her hope is to remain present throughout the day as much as possible, acknowledging that "moments like these pass in a flash".

For now though, Paloma and her team add the finishing touches - including stunning emerald and gold jewlery from Roseark and she's off to the red carpet.

Her first whirlwind tour in Hollywood may be over - but we're sure it won't be her last.

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