Tue, Mar 09, 2010 - Page 16 News List

Gowns and gems dazzle on the red carpet

Hollywood’s leading ladies, including Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz and Zoe Saldana, awed fans with gowns in many colors and shimmering metallics

By Samantha Critchell  /  AP , LOS ANGELES

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Sandra Bullock dressed the part at Sunday’s Academy Awards: She wore a gleaming, metallic, slim-fitting gown that seemed fashioned after the Oscar statuette itself.

The dress was a winner, making the best actress one of many who stepped up their style on what is considered Hollywood’s most important runway. Top actresses made bold color choices, donned stiffer shapes and used sparkle strategically to get them noticed.

“This red carpet was whimsical, thank God. It was the most interesting red carpet in a long time,” said Suze Yalof Schwartz, Glamour magazine’s executive fashion editor at large. “You want to see a dress that makes you say ‘Wow!’ and I saw at least six of those.” There had been a trend in recent years to make safe choices at the Oscars, with celebrities knowing that the photos taken there would follow them for the rest of their lives. But there was a refreshing sense of fun — and some directional fashion — this year.

“We’re moving into architectural shapes and away from all the drapery. There were not a lot of ‘goddesses’ this year,” observed Sharon Graubard, senior vice president of trend analysis at forecasting firm Stylesight. “This was about glamour, very tasteful, grown-up glamour.” Gold was a huge trend, with Kate Winslet looking like an old-school movie star in her sleek, strapless gold gown by Yves Saint Laurent and Deco-inspired US$2.5 million yellow-diamond necklace from Tiffany & Co. Cameron Diaz, with bold red lips, was another screen siren in a gold strapless gown with metallic ribbons and pailettes by Oscar de la Renta; Miley Cyrus wore a bustier-style strapless gold number by Jenny Packham; and Sarah Jessica Parker chose a custom yellow Chanel with silver flowers around the bustline.

“I loved Sarah Jessica Parker in Chanel. It was interesting, romantic and she’s a fashion risk-taker,” said Mary Alice Stephenson, stylist and fashion commentator.

Flowers were another dominant theme at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. Bullock’s Marchesa gown had a delicate floral embroidery and Mo’Nique complemented her electric blue Tadashi Shoji asymmetrical dress with gardenias in her hair. She said she did it in the spirit of the late Hattie McDaniel, who had done the same in 1940.

A few looks seemed sure to generate chatter because they weren’t standard-issue, red-carpet styles. Jennifer Lopez’s sculpted, strapless pale-pink Armani Prive had a dramatic slit on one side and an exaggerated modern train that jutted out from her hip. Armani said the dress was inspired by the romance and mystery of the moon.

Charlize Theron also had a futuristic vibe in her amethyst gown by John Galliano for Dior with two folded rosettes not on the bustline but on the bust itself.

“Charlize’s dress was really dramatic,” said Stephenson. “Love it or hate it, you want to talk about it.” Carey Mulligan’s full-skirted black Prada was adorned in unusual embroidery: tiny forks, knives and scissors. She said she didn’t choose it to make a statement.

“I just thought it was really cool,” she said. “It’s not a dress where I have to wear Spanx or anything, so I’m good.”

Another fashion-forward look was Zoe Saldana’s Givenchy gown with a sparkly light pink bodice and a lilac skirt that descended into tight ruffles in all shades of purple. Queen Latifah’s one-shoulder Badgley Mischka was a lovely shade of pink and the mermaid shape “is the right way to dress a curvy woman,” said Yalof Schwartz.

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