It was just a regular Saturday girls' night out, but not really, as Mandy Moore hosted dinner at One Gun Ranch, a women-led sustainable farm in the rolling hills of Malibu — complete with stunning views of the ocean and friendly horses, dogs, a donkey and a narcoleptic pig roaming freely. The "This Is Us" star invited an eclectic mix of the ladies in her life, including Cupcakes & Cashmere's Emily Schuman, jewelry designer Anita Ko, author Katherine Schwarzenegger and co-star Chrissy Metz (who plays her daughter, Kate), to celebrate her fall campaign for Fossil and, as she said as she welcomed everyone to dinner, "female friendship." (Guess that's why her Fossil campaign co-star K.J. Apa, aka Archie, from "Riverdale," wasn't in attendance.)
For the campaign, Moore also revisited her design roots — remember Mblem? — for the watch and accessories brand. She created a dial for the new Fossil Q Venture HR smartwatch inspired by another creative, and very personal, project she was working on: installing the Italian floors of her new home. "I couldn't get enough of how much fun I had throwing myself in headfirst with doing my house, and it just felt like the easiest segue," she told me before dinner, as we sat in a cute little bungalow on the farm grounds. "Like there's not enough terrazzo in anybody's life, you know?"
The 'This Is Us' Costume Designer on What Decades Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia Will be Dressing For Next
With the third season of "This Is Us" in full swing — packed with the usual shockers and sob-jerking moments that have become series signatures — her character, Rebecca (and a clean-shaven Jack, played by Milo Ventimiglia) spend time in more decades, including her favorite to wear: "The '70s," says Moore, emphatically, with a huge, perfect smile.
"Obviously, pre-children Jack and Rebecca are so much fun," she continues. "I feel like I was born in the wrong decade, so any time we get to dip into the '70s [hair, makeup and costumes], I do a little happy dance."
Moore is especially looking forward to an upcoming "big episode" that takes Jack and Rebecca out of their usual Pittsburgh surroundings — into sure-to-be more fabulous than usual '70s gear, including some custom-built ones. "There's something that's an impetus for what we're doing together," she hints. "That was one of the more fun episodes that I've ever worked on because [costume designer Hala Bahmet and I] got to put together outfits and there was a reason behind things." We're intrigued.
"Two episodes ago, I asked [Jack] if he wants to go to LA, so maybe there's an LA element to it," Moore continues. "So with that came a lot of fun outfits." Bring on the crazy bell-bottoms, pool party caftans and a touch of "Boogie Nights" grooviness, please — especially since Rebecca declined a move to New York with blonde mustache man to stay local with Jack, thereby depriving us of a potential wardrobe evolution into Village artiste hippie chic.
Of course, in real life, Moore's current-day fashion makes headlines — most notably her red carpet outings and collaboration with Cristina Ehrlich. The veteran stylist, who also works with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Priyanka Chopra, helps bring out the experimental side of Moore, with recent outstanding looks including a sculptural white dress by Paris-based Dice Kayek, founded by two Turkish sisters, Ece and Ayşe Ege, and a stunning blue leather draped mini by Isabel Marant. (We'll get to the custom Rodarte that she wore to the Emmys in a bit.)
"I worked with Cristina when I was 18 for five years and then our paths diverged and now they've come back together again," explains Moore, clad in a red Rosie Assoulin cape dress and strappy heels (which she switched out for Birkenstocks after dinner). "It's crazy to have worked with her at a different iteration and a different chapter of my life. I felt like she helped me push the envelope then, but it's even better coming back to her and having come into my own as a woman. I feel more comfortable in my skin."
Starring on a hit TV show and expanding her own project portfolio, including an upcoming production deal with 20th Century Fox TV, bring more high profile occasions for photo opps. Plus, awards season is imminent. "When you're lucky enough to have stuff on your plate so you have lots of excuses to get dressed up and go places, it allows you almost more freedom to just say, 'Yeah, why not? Let's try it!'" she says. "And not put so much pressure on yourself, like, 'This is the one time I'm going out, so it has to be like this, that or perfect or whatever you imagined in your head."
Although, at this year's Emmys, the nominee looked pretty damn flawless in her shimmery, second-skin custom-designed Rodarte dress, which was a game-changer in more ways than one for the star. "In that sense, you get a little spoiled with the custom dress situation. It's so hard to want to go back to just finding any old dress," jokes Moore. "I know that sounds terrible, but I've been very, very fortunate that it's happened a couple of times."
With the Golden Globes in January and the surrounding awards season festivities, Moore and Ehrlich should have plenty of occasions to keep them busy. Although, spoiler: The star already has her eye on a hot trend that she surprisingly hasn't tried in awhile. (Like maybe since this amazing 2001 moment?)
"I want to keep changing it up and do different things. I want to have a good suit," Moore says. "Because it always feels empowering and badass to wear a good suit."
Disclosure: Fossil provided my travel and accommodations to attend the dinner.