And just like that, Bachelor Nation is back. Two weeks after Tayshia Adams received her emerald-cut engagement ring (featuring 95 diamonds!) from contestant Zac Clark on the Season 16 finale of The Bachelorette, 2020 Bachelor Matt James took the helm on the 25th season of The Bachelor. And though we’re only one episode in, one thing is already clear: Chelsea Vaughn will go down as one of the best-dressed contestants to join the franchise ranks.
On Monday night’s premiere, Vaughn debuted a dress unlike those we’re used to on ABC’s hit dating show: a black, backless gown with cut-outs galore. “You look incredible,” James told Vaughn when the two first met. “Wow, she is wearing that dress,” he added while watching Vaughn walk into the cocktail party.
During the episode, Twitter and Instagram alike blew up with praise about the style, saying Vaughn and her dress already deserve to win and that the model “ran from NYFW in her designer dress to the Bachelor mansion.” (The latter included a GIF of Paris Hilton running to her car.) Others begged for more information on the dress, with the biggest question, naturally, being: Who designed it?
The designer behind Vaughn’s dress is A'kai Littlejohn, an 18-year-old CFFA Emerging Designer of the Year recipient who was also a contestant on Project Runway Junior’s second season. Based in New York, Littlejohn debuted his first collection at New York Fashion Week in 2017 during the spring ‘18 season.
The dress, named the Emilia Gown, was plucked from his spring ‘21 collection, titled The Breakwater Collection, which was inspired by the beaches in New York’s Eastern Long Island. Given that it’s a spring piece, Vaughn’s exact gown won’t be available to shop until next season. That said, similar styles are, including a navy blue, cut-out, silk dress ($995) and a low-back, spaghetti strap slip ($995) in the same shade. For something more affordable yet equally statement-making, dare we suggest a cow-print face mask ($20)?
Vaughn, a 28-year-old from Brooklyn, is a runway model, so we expected her to dress the part on the show. But nothing could’ve prepared us for a dress this good immediately out the gate.
Below, check out the buzz around Vaughn’s Bachelor premiere gown.