Miss Maria Bakalova, please step into the spotlight. Oh, wait. You already did. A TON of times.
And to that, we can only add a hearty and heartfelt “ATTAGIRL.” There’s nothing we love more in red carpet coverage than seeing an up-and-comer grab all that free fashion merch by the horns (so to speak) and ride that promo train for all it’s worth (so to speak). Maria surprised everyone with her buzzy turn in Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm and before the awards talk even started, she and her stylist Jessica Paster seemed to have their game plan nailed down.
Maria Bakalova Promotes “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” in Giambattista Valli
There was a, shall we say, seedy and slightly disturbing undertone to her character’s experiences (and subsequently her introduction to audiences). Seemingly in response to that, all of her awards-track promo-wear has underlined and re-affirmed her as an ingenue and future leading lady. It’s all romance, traditional femininity, and princess tropes straight down the line.
Maria Bakalova in Armani Privé for the Golden Globes
Which isn’t to say it was all fussy and prim and old-fashioned. A classic ingenue look is also about glamour and elegance, which she also nailed in her choices.
Maria Bakalova in Prada for the Critics’ Choice Awards
This almost feels like an outlier, although she looks amazing in it. Her fashion choices for the most part have been unchallenging and don’t lean too far into the sexy look. Still, there’s something pleasingly regal and elegant here, which means it’s not that much of an outlier.
Maria Bakalova Celebrates her Bafta Nomination in Zimmermann
Super-frilly, super-girly, slightly fantasy-based fashion.
Maria Bakalova in Andrew Gn for BAFTA Film Session
But she started making some swerves later in the season; possibly loosening her constrictions up a bit and away from the romantic styles. She’s young and she’s trying to secure a career and image here, so it makes sense for her to get some party-girl looks into the mix, even if they remain high-fashion and just a little prim.
Maria Bakalova in Dior for the SAG Awards
Again, there’s a sense that she started getting tired of the conventionality and wanted to switch things up a bit, but even here, she’s working in a highly romantic, fantasy-based mode and a typical princess silhouette.
Maria Bakalova in Armani Privé for the BAFTA Film Awards
But clearly, she’s not completely over the sorts of pretty gowns and dresses she keeps returning to.
Maria Bakalova in Oscar de la Renta for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
As we get closer to the Oscars, there’s a real sense that she’s deliberately mixing up her styles and bouncing back and forth between princess dresses and looks either a little darker or a little sexier.
Maria Bakalova Celebrates Her MTV Awards Nomination in Lisou
Interestingly enough, she seems to be taking the opposite route of most nominees. She started off extremely traditional and conventional in her choices and she’s gotten slightly more adventurous over time.
Maria Bakalova Promotes “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” in Yanina Couture
Her last look was the least like any of her previous ones, indicating that she may be done with the whole princess thing.
What will she wear next? Stay tuned! No, really. Stay tuned. There’s one more dress to get to before the big night.
Styled by Jessica Paster
[Photo Credit: Jessica Paster/Instagram, Courtesy of Prada, Greg Williams for Armani]