The conversations about the red-carpet fashions at the Oscars could be the contest between Giorgio Armani and Dior Haute Couture, or about some of the bold moves made by stars who have been there a few times before.
Giorgio Armani could claim some big wins: The designer dressed Jessica Chastain, Naomi Watts and Quvenzhane Wallis on Sunday night.
Chastain, in a glistening copper-tone strapless gown with mermaid hem, looked like an old-world glamorous movie star, especially with her oversized vintage Harry Winston diamond earrings and bright red lipstick. “I chose it because to me it was a throwback to old Hollywood,” she said.
Meanwhile, she told E: “It’s a very ‘Happy birthday, Mr. President’ dress.”
Naomi Watts wore a gunmetal beaded gown with a geometric cutout on the bodice, also by Armani.
Quvenzhane, with a silver headband in her hair and carrying her puppy purse, wore an Armani Junior navy-blue dress with black, navy and silver jewels scattered on the skirt and a big bow on the back. She supposedly had another Armani dress, a pink one, ready for the afterparty. “I liked it because it was sparkly and puffy.”
Dior dressed Jennifer Lawrence and Charlize Theron — both are spokesmodels — and they both hit it right in white. Lawrence was the belle of the ball in a white-and-pale-pink strapless gown with fitted bustier and poufy hemline, sophisticated pulled-back hair, diamond-ball earrings and a delicate long necklace that hung down in the back. Theron was sleek in an angular strapless dress with a fashion-right peplum and a buzz-cut hairdo.
Christos Garkinos, longtime red-carpet watcher and owner of Decades vintage store in Los Angeles, said, “You could have turned the TV off right when Charlize Theron came on. She was perfect.”
The more interesting chatter, however, could be about the Jane Fondas and Sally Fields of the world. Fonda wore bright taxicab yellow Versace; Field was in bright red.
Hal Rubenstein, editor at large of InStyle magazine, was pretty impressed by 86-year-old Emmanuelle Riva in Lanvin. “Jane Fonda looks amazing because she’s Jane Fonda, but Emmanuelle Riva was so elegant.”
It almost seemed there were only two routes to the red carpet, said Rubenstein: incredibly beaded and eye-catching, worn by Nicole Kidman in L’Wren Scott, Halle Berry in Versace, and Stacy Keibler in Naeem Khan; or a simple color with a great silhouette. He puts Lawrence, Reese Witherspoon in a strapless royal-blue Louis Vuitton gown with a black strip at the bustline, and Jennifer Aniston in a Valentino red strapless gown in that camp.
He called Anne Hathaway’s pale pink Prada dress and Tiffany & Co. necklace “a Katharine Hepburn moment.”
Amanda Seyfried’s metallic halter dress by Alexander McQueen with a keyhole opening was three months in the making, and Berry said she trusted Donatella Versace to dress her like the Bond girl that she has been on the big screen. She ended up in a silver-beaded-and-black gown with long sleeves and V neck.
Jennifer Hudson’s shiny, second-skin blue Roberto Cavalli almost looked like an animal print. Kristen Stewart had on an even paler blush gown — a hand-beaded strapless with tulle inserts by Reem Acra.
She accentuated her gown with a 19th-century Fred Leighton necklace with 91 graduated diamonds. Jennifer Garner chose a violet-colored Gucci with ruffles in the back. She said on ABC, “I save up all my fashion for red-carpet events.” Her 200-carat diamond-and-dark-platinum necklace from the Neil Lane archives was a big statement.
Beaded gowns had a strong presence, worn by Sandra Bullock, in a fully embroidered Elie Saab; Renee Zellweger, in sleek Carolina Herrera; and Adele in Jenny Packham. Catherine Zeta-Jones was statuesque in an all-gold Zuhair Muhad. Queen Latifah’s white V-neck tank dress by Badgley Mischka had a lot of sparkle on the straps.
For the men, the trend was beards, including George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones.