While Cate Blanchett has become a bona fide icon, back in 2000 when she attended her second-ever Oscars, she was still one to watch. If anyone had any doubts about the once rising star, her Oscars look that year—a black body-hugging Gaultier gown accented with aureate ornaments and a sultry smoky eye—quickly cemented her place among Hollywood royalty.
“I was like, ‘Cate, if you’re gonna do it, do it all the way. Make a statement!’” recalls Cynthia Bach, the Los Angeles–based jewelry designer responsible for Blanchett’s head-to-toe gold. With only three hours to spare before the starlet was set to walk the red carpet, Bach, who had just returned from a trip to India, arrived at Blanchett’s hotel room armed with an arsenal of antique Mughal jewels—ruby-dotted bangles, glinting armbands, and a head-turning neckpiece that slithered down Blanchett’s bare back.
The crowning glory of the look came courtesy of the evening’s hairstylist, Danilo, who, after anointing Blanchett’s flaxen lengths with intoxicating orange and lavender oils, repurposed an ornate adornment and secured it atop Blanchett’s low chignon. Which is all to say that even though the then-starlet wasn’t nominated that year, she nevertheless went for the gold—and won.