Auli’i Cravalho Wants to Make Red Carpet Fashion Actually Mean Something

Auli’i Cravalho selfie


In today’s world, what’s old is new again. Between fashion nostalgia and the mainstreaming of vintage hauls, more and more, we’re looking to years past for inspiration. And why shouldn’t we? Sometimes the answer isn’t buying new clothes, it’s working with what you’ve got. With This Old Thing?, we’re bringing you all the fashionable details, red carpet memories, and styling tips you’ll ever need—straight from the celebs you love.

You might not know the name Auli’i Cravalho, but if you’re a Disney fan or if you have kids, you certainly know her voice. In 2016, when she was just a high school freshman, the Hawaii native made her acting debut as the voice of Moana in the animated film of the same name. She charmed the world, and when it came time to translate Moana into various languages, she signed on to reprise her role for Disney’s first-ever Hawaiian language dub. Since then, Cravalho has starred as Ariel in The Little Mermaid Live! on ABC, come out as bisexual, and signed on to play Janis Ian in the forthcoming cinematic version of Mean Girls: The Musical (hence her very subtle dark green hair).

Cravalho’s latest gig is on Prime Video’s new series The Power. On the show, she stars opposite Toni Collette, John Leguizamo, and Toheeb Jimoh as Jos Cleary-Lopez, a young woman struggling to understand her role and capacity after, suddenly and without warning, every teenage girl in the world is given the power to electrocute people. It’s a buzzworthy performance—pun intended—on a series that anyone who’s been through some shit should fall in love with.

Now at 22 years old, Cravalho is just starting to come into her own personal power—and her own personal style. She recently made headlines on the Power red carpet with a red handprint painted on her face to raise awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women. Below, we talked to her about making red carpet statements and why she’s chosen to shop ethically both in and out of the spotlight.

On Her "Power" Character’s Look

“We started with a script and a table read in 2020 so it's interesting to see how her style has changed to better indicate how Jos comes into her own. When we first see her, she wears overalls and sweaters and glasses, and she has this beautiful fringe that covers her forehead that she kind of hides behind.

It's really difficult growing up in your mother's shadow, which is how Joss feels about Margot Cleary Lopez [Toni Collette], who's the mayor. As the season progresses, she starts putting on a power skirt and she wears these chunky boots that look good, but that she could also kick some ass in. We see her wear these graphic shirts and lift her head up high and suddenly those bangs become an accessory and not something that she uses to hide herself. We see the other girls coming into their own power around the same time that Jos does, too, and it feels like a revolution.”

Auli'i Cravalho attends the premiere of Prime Video's "The Power" in 2023.

Theo Wargo / WireImage

On Finding Her Personal Style

“I'm still figuring that out, and that's the best place to be. I'm really enjoying playing around with silhouettes right now. Today, I'm wearing Yohji Yamamoto, and what I really love is that no one can perceive me in these pants. They balloon at the thigh and kind of come down into shorts. I've also been growing out my leg hair and it feels like the perfect accessory for this outfit. I'm not even joking.

Yesterday, when I did press, I wore this incredible three piece fitted leather look. I'm realizing that what makes me most comfortable is not always leaning into my femininity. Whether I show or don't show off my body brings me a different kind of agency, and I find that fashion is becoming a lot more interesting to me the more that I play with it.

I beautifully and gratefully started off in the Disney sphere, where I wore a lot of monochromatic looks that were very clean and very safe, but now I'm excited to experiment and make statements with what I wear.”

On Why She Stopped Shaving Her Legs

“I realized that I was planning it around the seasons. I started shaving when I was probably around 12, because I went to boarding school around that time and I got shamed for body hair. I remember shaving my legs, shaving my arms, shaving my sideburns, and plucking my baby hairs just trying to conform to whatever image Victoria's Secret was pushing out at that time.

Now it's almost a challenge, because there's nothing really scary about body hair. I look at my friends who are male presenting and they're just rocking it and they have no problem with it. If it's one less step and it makes my life easier and it causes a conversation, I think I'm doing something right.”

On Going to Goodwill vs. Having a Stylist

“I am based in Los Angeles but I grew up in Hawaii so I usually shop somewhere in between. I still get quite a lot of hand-me-downs from family members, which I appreciate. I'm such a big fan of thrifting. That, for me, means going to Goodwill, finding a shirt, and then not expanding my wardrobe for a while after that.

I also am lucky enough to have a stylist, so the clothes that I wear that most people see me in, I don't own. I just put on pretty clothes to take pictures in and then I go home and wear jeans and a T-shirt.

It's funny to think about style because I don't see myself as making an impact necessarily with my everyday style. But I do choose brands that reflect my morals and I wear designers that are people of color or who make statements and use recycled materials in an effort to be thoughtful about what they make. That's what I like to wear on carpets.”

Auli'i Cravalho attends the Loewe Rodeo Drive Party in 2022.

Jerritt Clark / Getty Images for LOEWE

On Why She Wears Socially Conscious Clothing

“I suppose growing up in the age of the internet changed the way I present myself. I was so painfully aware of my impact when I stepped into the light of media, which was when I was 16 with Moana. I felt gratefulness in my heart that I got to play a character that was a role model for young women as well as a representation of my culture, having been born and raised in Hawaii as a person of Polynesian descent.

It was in that journey that I made sure to wear designers that I grew up with, like Manaola or Kini Zamora. These are all people who make Pacifica prints that I would wear on May Day. I went to an all-Hawaiian school called Kamehameha Schools on the island of Oahu, and every Friday would be Aloha Friday because we were all Hawaiian and we all had Aloha print shirts, so let's celebrate the culture. So for all of my Moana press and premieres I always wore Pacifica designers and it felt really good in my soul.

When the fashion world began opening up to me as I rose in ranks, I realized I could just wear pretty things or I could try and search for that feeling again of wearing something that means something to me and being able to speak about on it on a carpet and know that I'm doing something good for the designer. It’s like saying to a designer ‘I see you and I thank you for making this thing of beauty.’ We wish each other the best on our prospective journeys, because I'm young and still growing in this industry and I hope the same is true for these designers as well.”

On Her Perfect Pair of Jeans

“I just found my favorite pair of jeans and they’re actually from Banana Republic. I have the barrel-leg jean in black and in the dark blue wash.

These new jeans just give me a good butt every time and I can pair them with any shirt, tuck it in a certain way, and be out the door. I used to pull so many clothing options out of my closet and not be pleased with any of them, but then seemingly overnight I got a good pair of jeans and now it’s like ‘Oh my god, everything goes with these.’”

On the Clothes She Has Her Eye On

“I've been loving the Coach collection that just came out because it’s great ready-to-wear stuff, plus I like leather. I have my nose pierced now so I'm digging grungier vibes. My hair is currently green because I’m playing Janis Ian in the Mean Girls movie, so I'm leaning into more of a boyish frame. I'm loving really anything with structure. I'm hoping to get more into men's suits and tailoring to my body and just feeling really in control of this next chapter in my life and fashion.”

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