Oscar Race Begins: Which Designer Looks Will Adorn The Stars?

<CS:BOLD>LOS ANGELES -- As the Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday morning, designers and fashionistas breathed a collective sigh of relief. Yes, Virginia, Nicole was nominated, and now those who watch the Academy Awards purely to see what the...

LOS ANGELES — As the Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday morning, designers and fashionistas breathed a collective sigh of relief. Yes, Virginia, Nicole was nominated, and now those who watch the Academy Awards purely to see what the ladies are wearing have something to live for.

But Nicole’s not the only actress to shoot for. Designers also have Renee Zellweger and Halle Berry in the Best Actress category, and Jennifer Connelly, Kate Winslet and Marisa Tomei winning Supporting Actress nods. Not only that, but now that Will Smith and Ethan Hawke are nominated, fashiony spouses Jada Pinkett Smith and Uma Thurman are going to need something to wear. And don’t forget that last year’s winner Julia Roberts will definitely turn up to present the Best Actor statuette to one lucky guy.

“It’s a nice mixture of everything,” says superstylist Jessica Paster, who’s already scouting the New York collections for red-carpet looks. “There are girls who know how to dress, and then there are your real actresses. There’s nobody in this group who has no idea how to dress — except Sissy Spacek, and if she were smart, she’d call Hedi Slimane right now.”

Here’s a list of what the Oscar dressing options look like today, fresh out of the envelop. But by March 24, it could be a whole new style


Nicole Kidman: Fashion’s favorite actress loves those French labels: YSL Rive Gauche, Dior, Chanel. And she counts Tom Ford, John Galliano and Karl Lagerfeld among her friends. So which one will it be? After donning a Ford YSL Rive Gauche original to the Golden Globes, our money’s on Dior couture. But don’t count Prada out entirely. Whatever it is, it will be couture, it will be European, and it will be awesome. And word is — Nicole has already chosen it.

Sissy Spasek: Although she may be the odds-on favorite to win the statue, she probably won’t be winning any fashion contests. Now that Spacek has a relationship with the folks at Armani, maybe she could actually wear one of his women’s outfits instead of doing the man’s tux thing again. Or what about a le smoking suit by YSL Couture?

Renee Zellweger: Her nomination proves the theory that actors who gain weight often get Oscar nominations — and those who take it off look best in clothes. Last Oscar’s vintage Jean Desses put Zellweger in a whole other fashion class. But now that her relationship with L.A. vintage enthusiast Rita Watnick (of the L.A. vintage shop Lily et Cie) is not at its best, she could wear Ralph Lauren, as she did to the Globes — or go for YSL, as she’s done for a number of events this year. It would be interesting to see Renee in a more modern dress in a fabulous color.

Halle Berry: Her chocolate Valentino at the Golden Globes was just stunning and will be hard to top. She was also a vision in a white-and-red flowered Valentino at the Globes in 2000. Her best nights have belonged to Val, so why change now?

Judi Dench: There is nothing like a Dame who carries herself like one. She’s looked elegant and stately on the red carpet in gowns by Donna Karan and by British natives. The question is: will she go American or stick with the hometown team? Wouldn’t one of Julien MacDonald’s new Givenchys be nice? And Galliano’s still British, as far as we know.


Marisa Tomei: She can obviously wear anything — she’s incredibly pretty and slim. However, stylist Jessica Paster, who worked with her for the Globes, refuses to work with her again since the word around Hollywood is that Ms. Tomei isn’t easy to please. We liked the red Valentino she wore to the AFI Awards in January better than the simple black vintage dress she wore to the Globes. Our advice? Go colorful. Go sexy. Go to Dolce & Gabbana.

Kate Winslet: She’s looked good on the carpet and she’s looked bad, and much of it depends on her figure. Will we see the Rubenesque Kate or the post-new-boyfriend-Sam Mendes-slimmed-down Kate? The spaghetti strap black Ben De Lisi she wore to the Globes just wasn’t good enough. WWD to Kate: hire a good stylist and go for the gusto.

Helen Mirren: Helen has donned a lot of pleasing Badgley Mischkas on the carpet But, dear Helen, please do leave the silly hats at home.

Maggie Smith: Dame Maggie wore New Delhi designer Abu Jani to the Globes, so she’s in an ethnic mood these days. What about one of those wild Ungaro couture numbers from the recent couture?

Jennifer Connelly: Connelly and her publicist-stylist Cari Ross have a great understanding that less can be more — especially if you look like Jennifer Connelly. Her chic but minimalist Golden Globe Narciso Rodriguez gown was stunning, but that doesn’t mean the designer’s a shoo-in. His spokesman Pierre Rouget says Rodriguez will not compete to dress Connelly, and if Ross asks for sketches to be submitted by numerous designers, Rodriguez’s will not be among them. “This is how we work,” says Rouget. “We will not submit for consideration.”


Uma Thurman: A big fan of chiffon gowns, she’s donned a red floaty Ferretti, a billowy Chanel and that famous ethereal lavender Prada to the Oscars in the past. Uma’s got that frosty frothy look down to a T. Now will she continue in that vein — or simplify and modernize?

Jada Pinkett Smith: She wore Vera Wang to the Globes, but this tiny fashionista can wear anything and does. Calling all designers: this one’s up for grabs.


Julia Roberts: It was almost all about Americans for America’s Sweetheart up until her vintage Valentino last year: Julia favors simple looks by Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, although there has been a nice helping of Armani thrown in. All we know now is that the field is wide open. We doubt she’ll be as dressy as last year, and we doubt she’ll go vintage again.

Marcia Gay Harden: Last year’s red Randolph Duke was totally Hollywood in the Thirties. This year, Harden, who will present for Best Supporting Actor, will more than likely play it down and wear something more stately.