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28 Feb 2011

Fashion Victim: The Oscars

Fashion Victim: The Oscars

Another year, another slew of movies, another Oscars, and another snorefest red carpet. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve been too hasty in my assessments of fashion-gone-bonkers; maybe it’s only a tumblr-fed love affair that blasted the more macabre-loving, gender-bending, NYC all-black fashion crew into the e-stratosphere (Zana of Garbage Dress and Nikki of Dirty Flaws, I’m looking squarely at you). While, ok, sure, most movie-starring men won’t want to walk the red carpet in kilts and platforms and fringe and black leather, the baton is passed to the ladies who ought, on this most venerable nights of movie-making and sartorial collision, to step. it. up.

But as it is bemoaned all across the (honest) internets today, almost every star took a remoreseful detour into burlap-sacksville, drowning the red carpet in that most hated of all adjectives in the fashion world: it was a notoriously forgettable parade of safe, curiously categorizable and ready for your derision. Voila.

Bizarro-yawn-inducing trend number one—the propensity for like, sixty percent of the Oscars attendees to get theirs hairs all did up, get their faces all photoready, and then doll it up in… bland? Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good nude—it’s less of a cop-out than true white, it works outrageously well as an accent for stronger hues, and when done well, can be so subtly sexy. But column-dress after column-dress after column-dress, countless star-brats just looked like they had the life washed out of them. True, in lots of instances, bright hues were replaced by a delicate attention to texture and detailing—but all of those hours in the atelier don’t seem to register as much as a full-in-the-face onslaught of an unexpected shade. Where the hell is Diane Kruger when you need her?

So, poor Melissa Leo. I’m sure her dress looked killer in person, but layering lace macramé on top of—what even is that?—some sort of multicoloured metallic? just didn’t cut it. The thing looks like an homage to some particularly advanced kindergarten-ers arts-and-crafts project, replete with doilies and glued-down macaroni. Halle Berry’s Marchesa look, done in a similar hue, had the same kind of thing going for it, but the girl looked ethereal. Nonetheless, after seeing the same colour (or lackthereof) about twenty different times, I’m just over it.

Another curious oddity was the totally confusing propensity for layers—of tulle, of rouching, of gathers and pleats… it was as though everyone realized about ten minutes before they were due for their big entrance that what they had donned was completely boring and sent in a team of quack-fashion-student-designers to bedazzle the hell out of everything—to ‘amplify the interest’. The result could not have been more from the case. Take Florence Welch (incidentally, why was she at the Oscars again?) who took ‘matronly’ back to its Edwardian roots in a dress that could have been lifted directly from the costume department of Road to Avonlea…

Cute girl, nice figure, great hair, but this is ghastly. And it doesn’t stop there. Those who actually opted to wear a colour were no strangers to ruffles, either. Universally praised as one of the strongest looks of the night, Mila Kunis wore a gorgeous lilac Elie Saab dress that, if it weren’t for the vanity panel in the front (curiously loin-cloth inspired), was thisclose to not being TV-PG friendly. Girlfriend looked ah-mazing, to be sure. But the lilac pasties and the lace-fringe panels breaking up the fact that the whole bottom portion of the dress was, well, sheer, made her a forerunner of the nude trend in a completely different way.

In a close second for busiest dress, the critically panned Dior napkin that Nicole Kidman donned was pretty abysmal.

The ruffles at her hip made her wrinkled bottom boxy and disproportionate, and the beading throughout was a desperate attempt to regain some character. The result was a dress that looked as featureless and flat as her face; the tangerine shoes were totally out of left field, and hearkened to Jennifer Hudson’s dress, which, despite the vaguely vulvic ruffles at its back, was a welcome respite from the sea of white, tan, and tulle.

Following the tangerine-dream, reds and crimsons made their own disappointing appearances. My runner-up pick for most boring look of the night was Jennifer Lawrence, who strolled through the Cavalcade of Stars in a red, spaghetti strapped dress that looked equal parts American Apparel and Sears.

That’s not to say that every dress has to be busy, but girl could have at least looked as though she tried. You know, she could done a Penelope Cruz and put a sequined plasmic explosion on the front of her dress.

Lovin’ the post-baby look.

Another iteration was strutted in by Scarlett Johansson, opting for a lace and cabernet Dolce and Gabanna, rather than the lipstick red, old-Hollywood glamour it was impossible to peel her out of a few years ago. This dress has all the usual suspects—peekaboo nude, tons of lace and appliqués, and the curious hint of wine spilled all around her front.

Side by side, there’s simply no contest between this and Oscar-winner Natalie Portman’s killer maternity maroon which took the prized position on most critics best-dressed lists. I can see why. Pregnancy glow aside, she looks awesome. She fills out the dress perfectly and it’s the perfect combination of colour, simplicity, and elegance that were completely missing from the carpets this year.While this list is by no means exhaustive, if I’ve given the best, here comes the worst. It’s got all the fixins of a bad prom dress. Not to get my hate on too strongly for department stores, but Reese Witherspoon’s dress could have been bought at any suburban Fairweather. In fact, I think I knew a girl (or ten) who wore something identical to their formals back in the day…

The whole thing just screamed of mid-nineties. And I know that’s back in a really big way, but when A-list celebrities are taking cues from Kelly and Brenda, we’ve got an alarming problem.

So at least it’s over. Pretty soon we’ll be knee-deep in the brainless movie fodder that gets released once Oscars-season is over. And the only positive thing about that is that with summer-blockbusters comes, well, summer.

About the Author


i read a lot of books. you probably shouldn't take me shopping. i tweet useless observations @_arriving.

  • Rostia

    Natalie Portman is gorgeous!!! She’s such a natural beauty too. I’m so excited for her to have her baby!!!

  • Laura

    last night was brutal. didn’t watch but online anyway. no comments about Anne Hathaway’s red nightmare? it looked like a pastic dollar store table cloth pinned up with pastic flowers at a kids birthday party.

    Best dressed Amy Adams.

  • cat

    you beat me to it. the red thing she wore on the carpet looked like a couture garbage bag. i totes hear you.

    didn’t love amy adams that much! liked it a lot more than other things, but it didn’t wow me. the styling, i think, was off. loved the jewelery (those emeralds!) and the dress but together, kind of over it.

    tbh my favourite looks of the night were dresses that didn’t even make it to the oscars (so many better dresses at the viewing and after parties.) the whole thing was a snore.



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