By Alexis Chiu
Updated March 12, 2012 12:00 PM

She knows a thing or two about making a grand entrance. So when Jennifer Lopez tapped designer Zuhair Murad to outfit her for this year’s Academy Awards, he knew he needed a showstopper. “About a month ago, we started the process of ideas and sketches. Jennifer really put it in my hands,” says Murad, who ultimately offered three dresses for the American Idol judge, 42, to choose from: two off the runway from his Spring-Summer 2012 couture collection, plus a custom-made creation. With each of them, “I wanted to accentuate her feminine figure.”

INSIDE THE Making of the Dress

There’s no doubt her body was the center of attention on Oscar night. When the style icon stepped out in Murad’s custom option-a nude, long-sleeve silk tulle frock with a down-to-there neckline-her gown was “so comfortable,” she told PEOPLE. “It’s not too heavy and it moves with me.” (Some viewers disagreed: When Lopez hit the stage, there was buzz of a wardrobe malfunction; see box.) Murad constructed the dress in his Beirut studio and then shipped it to L.A., where Lopez had two fittings and made “final touches” the day of the show, says Mariel Haenn, who along with Rob Zangardi make up Lopez’s style team. Though the design boasted hand embroidery and delicate beadwork, one detail stood out for Lopez: “On the red carpet, I just want a dress that feels good.”