The red carpet of the 80th annual Academy Awards unveiled an array of beautiful gowns in classic but safe fashion choices. The obvious trend of the evening was red, with nominees, announcers and women of all ages donning the color.
Nominees Ruby Dee and Julie Christie both wore sleeved silk gowns. Dee’s frock was designed by Kevan Hall and included a cinched waist and demure faux blazer, while Julie Christie wore a ruched short gown that she helped design herself with the aid of stylist Tanya Gill. Even budding actress Miley Ray Cyrus went for red in a slim-fitting Valentino that made her look like 15 going on a very elegant 25.
The most dramatic piece of the evening was the red couture gown by John Galliano that graced the carpet on model Heidi Klum. The gown was fashion with a cause; every seam of the elegant bustier style-gown with its intricate asymmetrical collar and expansive train was donated to charity to support research for women’s heart disease.
The red trend did inspire a few missed decisions, however. Helen Mirren’s gorgeous red custom-made Georges Chakra gown was over-shadowed by the Swarovski sleeves attached to it, a disappointment after her stunning golden gown from last year’s awards.
Actresses Katherine Heigl and Anne Hathaway channeled two of the night’s common trends, wearing dramatic red pieces in asymmetrical, one-sleeved shapes. Heigl’s slim-fitting silk Escada gown featured a cut-out shoulder detail, while Hathaway’s more intricate flowing silk Marchesa design was completed with a spread of lace roses spilling over her right shoulder.
Past Oscar winner Hillary Swank also went for the one-shoulder column dress, an elegant black piece by Versace. While stunning, Swank’s gown didn’t have the effortless glamour of those worn by Heigl and Hathaway, as this year’s Versace designs, like Mirren’s Chakra, seemed a bit over-fond of detailing that overshadowed the elegance of Swank’s overall look.
Nominee Amy Ryan of Gone Baby Gone continued the one-shoulder trend while toning down the detailing seen on many other stars. The simple navy Calvin Klein dress was elegant and appropriate.
Simple strapless cuts in bold solids and blacks dominated the rest of the night, with Amy Adams’ early arrival in an emerald green Proenza Schouler frock heralding good things to come. The signature bustier cut of the bodice and elegant structured mermaid train added glamour to the otherwise understated look.
Penelope Cruz and Jennifer Garner both played it safe in black strapless dresses with cinched waists. Cruz’s couture Chanel creation featured the same intricate details at the neckline as so many others, with feathers enhancing the bust and neck, while Garner’s Oscar de la Renta gown went for drama at the base. The flowing skirt was voluminous to say the least, harking back to de la Renta’s Spanish influences that have been so evident in previous years.
Jessica Alba’s strapless plum Marchessa gown elegantly covered her very pregnant stomach, and the feathered details at the bust echoed the rose appliqué on Hathaway’s Marchessa design. Alba wore the deep plum well, glowing in her third trimester, but not all those who chose purple were quite as successful.
Cate Blanchett’s couture maternity-wear in plum by Dries Van Noten while pretty, was not as flattering as Alba’s choice. The lifted hemline in the front of the gown made the drape over her belly appear poorly fitted, and the deep scoop-cut on the bust line looked strained to cover her chest, only adding to the too-small look of what would have been an otherwise lovely gown.
While disappointing, Blanchett’s gown was an award-winning choice compared to Wesley Snipes’ use of the color. Snipes arrived in a deep purple tux, complete with pocket square and a light blue bow tie. Sadly, no designer could be found to take responsibility for this daring menswear.
Snipes was not the only actor who set out to shock with his outfit. British Best Actor Daniel Day Lewis donned a classic black tux, and then spoiled it with brown trim and shoes, pulling off the nearly impossible task of clashing with his own outfit.
At least one eccentric tuxedo did hit the mark, though, with Spanish actor Javier Bardem’s risky high-collared four-button ensemble by Prada coming across as a confident take on the classic look.
There was one exception to the safe and chic choices of the night—an outfit that managed to shock the paparazzi while still looking flawless. Diablo Cody, the stripper turned Best Screenplay winner for Juno, arrived in a leopard print sheath with a plunging neckline by Dior. Add in the risqué tattoos that she showcased on her arms and a shiny gold Oscar, and you have a daring combination of class, high fashion and risk that was slightly lacking in the rest of the contenders outfits.