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Exclusive: The Inspiration Behind Amy Adams's Oscar Gown

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Some stars like Anne Hathaway decided on their Oscar gowns last minute, but Amy Adams was not one of them. It turns out the silver-gray Oscar de la Renta dress with a beaded bodice and a dramatic tulle-embellished skirt (which we named one of our favorites of the night) was a choice that took a lot of thought and time.

Adams’s stylist Cristina Ehrlich tells PEOPLE that an old black-and-white photograph, which Adams came across, inspired the dress. “[Adams found photos] that were shown to Mr. de la Renta,” Ehrlich says. But one shot of a model walking into a doorway struck a cord with the iconic designer. “It was sort of a real ‘aha’ moment for him when he saw this one specific photograph.”

From there, the fashion house worked tirelessly to bring Adams’s vision to life. Each part of the dress was carefully crafted — down to the smallest details. “If you zoom in [on the skirt’s tiers] there are these little tiny eyelashes. Every little layer, every single eyelash was pulled by hand.” They also played with different types of beading on the bodice before settling on the final one to ensure it was the perfect look for Adams.

RELATED PHOTOS: See the Best Dresses at the Oscars

But the designer and his team’s most important task was getting the right fit. “[Adams is] very realistic that she’s not a 5’11 runway model,” Ehrlich notes. “There were a lot of changes that we were doing up until the very final moment.”

All of that time and effort clearly paid off. “The first time she put the dress, she was like sashaying through the office,” Ehrlich says. “You could tell that she was having that fairytale moment.”

For more scoop on Adams’s dress pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE. Tell us: Did you love Adams’s gown?

–Jennifer Cress, reporting by Catherine Kast