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Resident South style guru gives his take on the Red Carpet

Posted By hneff On March 23, 2011 @ 12:33 am In Arts and Entertainment | Comments Disabled

Style.com entitled its Oscar fashion slideshow “Safety First”—cue the oft-used sigh of exasperation. Gone indeed are the days of shock, awe, glamour, and grandeur on the red carpet (Björk’s swan dress, anyone? J.Lo’s glistening torso?); in the new decade we are left with a parade of blink-and-you’d-miss-’em couture prom dresses. This past award season, it’s been easy to look good, but quite a feat to look fabulous (of course, the vicious Joan Rivers will have thanked you, too, for looking like a steaming mess). Come wind, come rain, come yards of boring taffeta—I present to you my Oscar night red-carpet report card.

Somebody give Cate Blanchett a free steak dinner or a print campaign; the woman deserves accolades for her stunning turn in Givenchy Haute Couture.
She paired an embroidered lavender chiffon gown with the structured, Samurai-shouldered bodice with which it was shown on the runway.
From the front, the opulent monochrome beading looked prim, lovely, and ladylike…that is, until you caught sight of its jubilant lime green variation on the shoulders and X-strapped back.
Blanchett struck the night’s deftest balance between conventional prettiness and fearless edge with a dress that was cooler than anything else worn that night.
Jennifer Lawrence, on the other hand, spoke to the red-blooded patriot in me, embodying classic American beauty in a sleek scarlet tank dress by Calvin Klein Collection.
The material gently hugged her curves in a way that most certinly wasn’t vulgar. I always admire a woman who can pull off Francisco Costa’s minimal designs for Calvin Klein; they call attention to the beauty of the wearer, and not solely to the dresses themselves.

I won’t deny that the following leading ladies looked great…it’s just not very difficult to do so when you’re wearing dresses with the easy elegance of Marchesa or Elie Saab.
Mila Kunis smoldered in the latter, Hailee Steinfeld charmed in the former (a dress she co-designed,) but these women paled in comparison (literally) to the brilliancy of a clean red dress.
Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman and Elie Saab themselves design for the red carpet; chiffon-and-tulle confections vary little.
A Marchesa or Elie Saab gown is always lavish, pretty, flattering…but it’s an easy way out for an actress—a surefire way to keep up appearances and nab a column in the People magazine centerfold.
Mila and Hailee looked beautiful, but Cate and Jennifer’s daring choices (and stunning confidence therein) mark the small margin of difference between a PASS and an A this time around.

There are few things which could distract me from a warm slice of pre-show eggplant pizza…but congratulations, Jennifer Hudson—your traffic-cone orange satin Versace cleavage steamroller trainwreck nightmare supreme just joined the ranks of roadkill, a fire alarm, and the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
J-Hud seemed to think that losing 40 pounds (good for her, though…I really mean that!) entitles one to swathe her torso in ruched neon fabric and bear 40 percent of her womanly gifts for the world to ogle.
I understand that she was probably going for exuberance here (still no excuse for that caked-on android makeup).
But it ended up looking like last call for clearance at David’s Bridal (or something from the periphery of a Newton South prom pic circa 1992.)
As you might have guessed, Miss Diva gets an F, though I loved her in Dreamgirls.

Though Helena Bonham Carter looked like a watered-down version of her usual kooky self in a black velvet corset and full-length skirt (I was really counting on her for this much-need dose of delicious irony), I loved that Bonham Carter wore an unique concoction that could only be dreamed up by costume designer Colleen Atwood, instead of a gown from a prestigious luxury brand.
Atwood won a gleaming Golden Globe statue that evening for her marvelous work in Alice and Wonderland, and Bonham Carter was quoted on the red carpet as saying that her outlandish, yet unassuming dress choice was meant to “celebrate film over fashion.” By which she must have meant The King’s Speech had real content.
I presume to suspect that a certain popular Newton South High School film studies teacher is gently nodding his head over a steaming hot mug of coffee while reading this.
After all, it’s important to remember why everyone is getting dressed up in the first place.

These are my grades that I personally attribute to these lovely ladies; accept them for what they truly are or take the override test.
I’m surprisingly happy to say there were more hits than misses this Oscar night, but unfortunately only a few bull’s eyes to speak of.
I want to see these criticismshy actresses move away from convention and style-worry towards drama and singularity.
Celebrity red carpet fashion is simply no fun if you can so easily purchase the sateen knock-off version of each dress on LightInTheBox.com the very next day.
I’d so much rather remember an Oscar night red carpet look for the rest of my life than find it relatively pretty as it glides wanly across my television screen, never to be heard from again.
At least J-Hud’s dress made me turn my head. So at the end, only one question remains:
When are they gonna start inviting Björk to the Oscars again?

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URLs in this post:

[1] No dress? No stress. Helping girls enjoy prom one dress at a time: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/no-dress-no-stress-helping-girls-enjoy-prom-one-dress-at-a-time/

[2] A take on the entertaining and ever bizarre VMAs: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/09/30/a-take-on-the-entertaining-and-ever-bizarre-vmas/

[3] Catwalk comes to Boston: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/09/24/catwalk-comes-to-boston/

[4] Lil’ Wayne smashes records with style: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/09/24/lil-wayne-smashes-records-with-style/

[5] South’s dress code in the 60s: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/souths-dress-code-in-the-60s/

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