.css-ftsoqv{display:block;margin-bottom:0.625rem;}.css-ftsoqv img{vertical-align:top;}.css-1dc3fjj{background-color:bg-block-content-four-across;}.css-h01skt{background:linear-gradient(to bottom,#F5F5F5 0,#F5F5F5 100%);-webkit-background-position:0 100%;background-position:0 100%;-webkit-background-size:0 0;background-size:0 0;display:inline;font-family:SangBleuOGSerifRegular,SangBleuOGSerifRegular-roboto,SangBleuOGSerifRegular-local,Georgia,Times,Serif;font-size:1.25rem;font-weight:400;letter-spacing:0.0075rem;line-height:1.4;margin-bottom:0;margin-top:0.75rem;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}@media (any-hover: hover){.css-h01skt:hover{color:link-hover;}}@media(max-width: 48rem){.css-h01skt{font-size:1rem;line-height:1.4;}}.css-h01skt:hover{-webkit-background-size:0.625rem 3.125rem;background-size:0.625rem 3.125rem;}America Ferrera Said Bye to “Barbie” in Versace

While Sunday night marked America Ferrera’s first Oscars ceremony as an Academy Award nominee, make no mistake: The actor has been steadily inspiring us onscreen for over two decades. If anything, Ferrera’s nomination for her critically acclaimed performance as Gloria in Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie’s billion-dollar blockbuster hit Barbie was the culmination of 20 years of portraying moving, memorable characters—from Carmen Lowell in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants to her four-season run as Betty Suarez in Ugly Betty, to six seasons leading NBC’s Superstore, and countless roles in between.

“The experience has been so rich and surreal,” Ferrera tells Harper’s Bazaar of her Oscar nomination and experiencing a press tour for the history books with Barbie. “One of the things I could’ve never anticipated was getting to spend time with the other nominees and building friendships with them that are so supportive.”

A grand finale at the 96th Academy Awards called for an unforgettable dress. Working with star stylist Karla Welch, Ferrera selected a pink chainmail gown from Atelier Versace and jewelry from Pomellato for the big night. She kept her makeup fresh for the evening, opting for just a pop of blush and pink lips courtesy of makeup artist Linda Hay, and wore her hair in a effortless bob, styled by Aviva Jansen Perea.

“The moment I stepped into the dress, I gasped and started to dance,” the actor says of stunning, shimmering bodycon piece. “That’s how I knew.”

america ferrera oscars versace gown

Courtesy of Nisha Johny and Jonathan Jacobs’

ameica ferrera and husband oscars

Courtesy of Nisha Johny and Jonathan Jacobs’

Ferrera and her husband, actor and director Ryan Piers Williams

america ferrera oscars

Courtesy of Nisha Johny and Jonathan Jacobs’

According to Welch, the gown served as the perfect “bye to Barbie,” especially after Ferrera opted for black and neutral tones for the majority of the film’s press tour and award season.

“The best part of it all was the sweet ladies from Italy who made the dress—it was their favorite,” Welch tells Bazaar. “In Italian they told us, ‘It gave Italian movie star!’ To me, when the hands that made the dress also feel it—then my job is complete!”

Donatella Versace, of course, agreed.

“America represents grace, honesty, and power—for me, this is the essence of Versace and the essence of empowered women today,” the designer says. “Her voice is such a powerful one in Barbie, resonating with women around the world. I admire her hugely as an actor and am honored she has chosen Atelier Versace.”

According to Versace, the mixture of chainmail and pink represented force and femininity.

“Our iconic metal mesh is an armor for women and a fabric Versace pioneered. It’s symbolic of strength and flexibility—the DNA of women,” she says. “And obviously we went with pink—for me, you can be powerful and wear pink. I loved this collaboration with America and Karla, and have loved working together as a team of strong women on this important look for such an important moment. Making the impossible possible is our superpower.”

america ferrera oscars versace

Courtesy of Nisha Johny and Jonathan Jacobs’

america ferrera and donatella versace oscars

Courtesy of Nisha Johny and Jonathan Jacobs’

donatella versace america ferrera oscars

Courtesy of Nisha Johny and Jonathan Jacobs’

For Ferrera, her Oscars gown served as more than a final ode to a film that has changed her life. It—and her other Barbie press looks—ultimately symbolized a sartorial transformation that celebrates the woman Ferrera sees herself as.

“It felt so great to get to collaborate with Karla on looks that reflected who I am today. I felt beautiful, sexy, strong, and empowered throughout the press release of this film,” the actor says. “Karla’s styling amplified and externalized how I’m feeling on the inside.”

With more highly anticipated projects on the horizon for Ferrera—including her directorial debut, an adaptation of the beloved novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter—last night’s ceremony both celebrated the perfect storm that was Barbie and marked a new beginning for the star.

“I will remember [this] as a joyful celebration of the incredible cultural impact that Barbie has had,” she says, “that I feel so blessed to have been a part of.”

america ferrera versace oscars

Courtesy of Nisha Johny and Jonathan Jacobs’

Headshot of Bianca Betancourt

Bianca Betancourt is the culture editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com, where she covers all things film, TV, music, and more. When she’s not writing, she loves impulsively baking a batch of cookies, re-listening to the same early-2000s pop playlist, and stalking Mariah Carey’s Twitter feed.