Naomi Ackie — who plays Whitney Houston in the Kasi Lemmons-directed biopic Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody — paid homage to the late pop star at the red-carpet premiere on Tuesday, Dec. 13 in a shimmering silver dress. The 30-year-old British actress channeled the six-time Grammy winner by donning a gown designed after the “Queen of the Night” look (seen after the third paragraph) from 1992’s The Bodyguard, in which Whitney wore a futuristic armor costume consisting of a fringe skirt and metallic bra top. Naomi’s stunning gown (seen below) featured hundreds of layers of silver strands that draped horizontally across her entire body beginning at her upper torso.
The stunning dress was designed by the Maison Schiaparelli fashion house and took 4,900 hours to make, according to the designer’s Instagram post. The gown was constructed of 21,950 Swarovski crystals and 212,500 silver glass bugle beads. The bust was covered with metallic cups that featured 3-D flowers crawling up it. The flower ornament seemingly bloomed out of Naomi’s right shoulder and rose to the top of her ear.
Allowing the dress to shine, Naomi styled her hair in a short and sleek bob. She wore sparkling crystal stud earrings and silver heels that featured a simple strap across her toes that was covered in shining gems.
Naomi revealed she originally had a “liquid metal” design in mind when she was in the beginning stages of planning for the premiere with her stylist, Nicky Yate. “I was talking to Nicky about the idea of liquid metal, because I was thinking about the ‘Queen of the Night’ look in The Bodyguard,” the actress told Vogue in an article published on Dec. 13. “It’s that balance of femininity and a kind of toughness too, especially with the flowers crafted from metal. It just felt very womanly and sexy, but also like being protected—a kind of armor.” Schiaparelli’s Daniel Roseberry brought the idea to life.
Not only was playing such an iconic star a special experience for Naomi; she said wearing Schiaparelli was also a dream. “My first ever fashion show in Paris was the Schiaparelli couture show just before lockdown, and I was so nervous, as I’d never been on the front row of anything before,” she recalled to the magazine. “I was so aware of the history of Schiaparelli, and when I got there and the models began walking down the runway, I got really emotional because of the music and the clothes, and I started crying.”
Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody is meant to celebrate and honor the life of Whitney — who died in 2012 at the age of 48 — and the legacy of her music. Naomi admitted doing so was “a big challenge,” but thinks she and the talented team behind the film would make Whitney proud with the finished piece. “It was really hard to do, but I think it does it the best way it can,” she told The Hollywood Reporter on Dec. 14. ” To tell the truth but to protect somebody’s dignity and integrity is really important.”
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