When Sofia Vergara walks the red carpet, you can usually expect her to wear a formfitting silhouette and bouncy blowout. Truly, there is no one who works a mermaid look quite like the
Modern Family
star. But she surprised many on Sunday night when she attended the 2016 Oscars in a billowing ball gown by Marchesa and pulled-back pony. So, why the switch-up?

Sofia Vergara Oscars 2016 Marchesa Gown

Steve Granitz/WireImage

“We all know Sofia is sexy and can do a lot of justice to a fishtail gown, so it’s exciting to see her go in a regal direction,” says Jill Lincoln, who styles Vergara with Jordan Johnson. “She wanted to try a different silhouette than she typically wears, while keeping the look timeless and elegant.”

Credit: Courtesy Marchesa

Courtesy of Marchesa

Inspired by the idea of “seductive glamour,” Marchesa’s cofounders Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig topped more than 30 yards of rich, midnight-blue silk organza with hundreds of jet-black and navy-blue crystals. “The hand-draped bodice and sculptural peplum make an opulent statement,” Chapman (below, fitting the gown to Vergara’s curves) tells PEOPLE. “And Sofia has a gorgeous rich skin tone, which complements the color beautifully.”

Sofia Vergara Oscars 2016 Marchesa Gown Georgina Chapman

Courtesy of Marchesa

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The shocker here is that the dress came together so quickly. “Sofia wanted Georgina and Keren to do their thing,” said Jordan. “So, we basically started exchanging ideas and discussing sketches and fabrics two weeks out. Marchesa had their New York Fashion Week show and then started working on this dress the next day. Then they flew to L.A. with it four days later. It seems crazy, but this is sort of typical timing for Oscar gown turn around.”

Sofia Vergara Oscars 2016 Marchesa Gown

C Flanigan/FilmMagic

To complete the look, Lincoln and Jordan reached out to Lorraine Schwartz, who provided $1.5 million worth of diamonds, including 65-carat sapphire and diamond vine earrings and a 15-carat sapphire-and-diamond ring. But where was Vergara’s most beautiful accessory of all, husband Joe Manganiello? “He started filming a TV show,” she said, “so he had to leave this morning.”

–Sharon Clott Kanter, with reporting by Catherine Kast