Red Carpet Rundown: Oscars 2011

The red carpet for the Oscars 2011 has to be one of the most boring in a while. When you’re being outdone for wow factor by almost every dress at the after-party, you know something has gone wrong! And whilst we all love a tasteful neutral (hi Michelle Williams, Annette Benning, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hilary Swank…), you know the look has jumped the shark when even Celine Dion, her of the back-to-front man’s suit and fedora, is working it successfully. With star wattage seeming somewhat underpowered this year, many of my frequent red carpet faves disappointed (Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Aishwarya Rai) with dresses that were nice, but not nice enough for me to waste all of about twelve words over. Here are the only outfits that stood out, starting with my three favourites (by a long LONG way):

Cate Blanchett in Givenchy Couture – The love it or hate it dress at this year’s Oscars, except I’m yet to actually see anyone declare hate. Why? Because it’s simply too beautiful. The design on the bodice may resemble the back of a very ornate chair, or a very ornate mirror or a very ornate cameo missing the face inside, but it works. Lovely fresh sorbet spring colours, and so very very Cate. Pretty much the only interesting dress so thank God it was a good ‘un.

Mila Kunis in Elie Saab – I’m thinking Mila was toying with us all the way up to awards season, lulling us into expecting she’d be dull and boring before hitting us up with a triple whammy of colourful gorgeous gowns (that or Macaulay Culkin had a black fetish and she’s breaking gloriously free of her monotone shackles). When a dress is this pretty, delicate and flirtatiously feminine, no self-respecting fashionista would put money against it being an Elie Saab. This is just such a beautiful dreamy soft shade of lilac that we don’t often see done on the red carpet, and by looking so damn good in it, Kunis has probably ensured that no-one will dare do it again.

Amy Adams in L’Wren Scott – YES! After a ropey lead-up, like the tortoise, Amy has finally triumphed just in time for the main event. Stunning sparkling midnight blue, a simple shape and a look that couldn’t flatter her more if it came with a greasy handshake and car-salesman patter. All the more surprising given it’s a L’Wren Scott, which tend to look a little dowdy for big occasions.

Hailee Steinfeld in Marchesa – You may have noticed that I’ve steered clear of mentioning Hailee in all my red carpet rundowns so far. This is because, as far as I’m concerned, if a 14 year-old is dressing as she should, then she probably won’t be exciting me too much. Bloggers have been won over by her ‘age-appropriate’ style, and whilst I’m delighted to see a famous teen who doesn’t wander about with her crotch either hanging out or with Swavorski crystal arrows pointing towards it, cute teen style stopped exciting me when I was… well, a not so cute teen. This modified Marchesa is a whole different story. It’s the ultimate princess-ballerina dress for the inner 14 year-old in all of us, right down to the could-be-overkill-but-instead-it’s-cute-and-charming bun and hair band combo. Swoonsome.

Mandy Moore in Monique Lhullier – If you’re read any of my style posts, you may have worked out by now that it takes one simple thing to make me lose all rational thought and start cooing like a teenage girl seeing Robert Pattinson for the first time. That magic ingredient is sparkle and when done right, it should look exactly like this Monique Lhullier gown – pretty, ethereal and like it was hand-crafted by fairies.

Natalie Portman in Rodarte – I’ve not really been loving Natalie’s maternity style thus far but this is easily the best she’s looked yet – and in a last-minute second choice too (thanks Galliano). Graceful flowing lines, a gorgeous rich plum shade and an overall look of radiance. She definitely picked the right time to glow!

Jennifer Lawrence in Calvin Klein – It’s simple, it’s sexy, it’s almost a Baywatch swimsuit. It’s the sort of thing Scarlett Johansson would have worn five years ago… oh hang on, she did! She does just look rather beautiful though.

Scarlett Johansson in Dolce & Gabanna – Speaking of, here she is, in a dress that not many people seem to like but which I feel quite fond of. I get a slight qipao vibe from it and whilst I’m still not sure I want to see anyone’s underwear on display at the Oscars, there are just enough redeeming factors (gorgeous unusual burgundy-magenta colour, effortless up-do, fabulous matching cocktail ring, atypical outfit for her usual 50s siren style) to make me leave the doily jokes in my drawer for another time. Apols.

Halle Berry in Marchesa – I’m just happy that Berry didn’t source her outfit from a sex-shop again. Having discovered that her legs don’t drop off if she covers them, this frothy girlie confection is a style 180 from the vaguely dominatrix gear she’s been sporting of late and it almost falls through the cracks of the sparkly sea of neutrals that have plagued this awards season. Britney’s bodysuit from the Toxic video, it’s saved/slaughtered by looking like the bottom has been dragged through heavenly clouds… or cotton candy. Shame about those clunky peeptoes.

Nicole Kidman in Christian Dior – I’m fairly certain that I hate this dress. But having flicked through so many photos of utter blah, I’m actually overjoyed that Kidman has completely lost control of her sartorial compass. Someone took a napkin folding-course and was so eager to show off his handiwork that he just went to work on her waist – but hey, at least he didn’t do a swan! I don’t know what the orange shoes are about, I don’t know which 14 year-old pimply teen’s hair gel she stole to achieve those sticky fronds of hair but I do know that I’m glad someone’s still taking risks on the biggest red carpet of the year. Even the nice dresses that I’ve singled out here are fundamentally simple shapes made good by striking colours so for being so different in an expanse of yawns, I really can’t hate her.

Jennifer Hudson in Atelier Versace – Everyone else is loving this. No idea why. It’s bright orange, a shade that seems to have tackiness in-built, and that’s even before you make it out of shiny flammable-looking satin, pile on the baubles, had that napkin-folder go nuts on your arse and hoist your boobs up like a second pair of eyes. There is not a single part of this outfit I like.

Reese Witherspoon in Giorgio Armani – This is essentially Julia Roberts Oscar-win dress made boring, with plastic Barbie hair on top. Except Barbie would never be this dull.

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