"I want to see fantasy. I want to see somebody accepting their award in the kitchen in a ballgown," the celebrity stylist and creative director tells PEOPLE about the upcoming virtual Emmys ceremony

By Hanna Flanagan and Melody Chiu
August 26, 2020 03:13 PM
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Jason Bolden is navigating the challenges of dressing his celebrity clients during the coronavirus pandemic with a little help from his go-to tech tablet.

Speaking with PEOPLE, the creative director and stylist — whose A-list clients include Cynthia Erivo, Taraji P. Henson and Yara Shahidi — shares how he is preparing for the virtual Emmy Awards next month, what fans can expect to see in terms of fashion at the show and how Samsung Galaxy devices (including the Galaxy Note20 and the Tab S7 in the mystic bronze color) have helped him while working remotely amid the pandemic.

Samsung

"These have been my saving grace," Bolden says of his Galaxy Note20 Ultra and Tab S7+ devices, which allow him to organize his ideas and write notes directly onto inspiration photos. "I go to the gallery and I just drop in images from carpets or things that I love. I've been able to create, which is one of those things I've missed."

Samsung

Throughout quarantine, the stylist has stayed in touch with his clients and says they often send mood board-worthy pictures back and forth to "keep each other going" and escape to a "moment of fantasy."

"I'll randomly get a photo from Cynthia Erivo of a beautiful couture gown, or her reminiscing over a Schiaparelli [garment] that she wore to the SAG Awards. It's things like that that we’re really excited about going back to."

Bolden and other celebrity stylists will have their first taste of post-lockdown glam in less than a month when the virtual Emmy Awards airs on Sept. 20.

"We're all floating and trying to figure it out. I think everyone's waiting until the last minute to make a decision," he shares. "Everyone's asking everyone questions. It's really tough."

Samsung
Samsung

In July, Variety reported that the award show's executive producers and host Jimmy Kimmel sent out a letter informing nominees that the highly anticipated event will be virtual due to the pandemic and explained that this year's dress code is not its standard black tie affair.

"Our informal theme for the night is 'come as you are, but make an effort,'" the statement read. "If you want to be in formal wear, we’d love that, but equally if you’re in the UK and it’s 3am, perhaps you want to be in designer pajamas and record from your bed! We want to work with you to style your moments, but want you to guide us on your levels of comfort – where you want to be, who you want to be with, what you want to wear etc."

Bolden thinks we will see a range in style choices, explaining that every celebrity is interpreting the open-ended dress code differently.

“There are people who really want to take it to the max,” he says. “Then there are other people who are like, 'I'm going to probably be at home with my family, so you might see me in pajamas.'"

The stylist continues: "I also think it's fair to just let people be and not try to judge it because this is a really important moment for certain people. They've worked really hard up until this point."

As for Bolden, he can't wait to see some bold moves. "I want to see fantasy. I want to see big clothes. I want to see somebody accepting their award in the kitchen in a ballgown. I want to see that."

For the celebrities who do choose to go all out this awards season, we can expect them to wear designers that are initiating social change. In 2020 — amid the pandemic and widespread social unrest — Bolden says stars are gravitating towards "conscious brands that have a voice and seem willing and ready to shift the planet."

"What I would love to see a lot more of is a shift in the executive suites. That's where the change happens," Bolden says, reflecting on inequality within the fashion industry. "We can put loads of people on red carpets. We can send loads of people front row. We can see them walk the runways, but if there's no one in these executive spaces, there's not enough room for change in that case."