BLONDE AMBITION: For Versace, all those star hits Sunday night may have gotten a boost from the house’s head mistress directing the show herself from her Rodeo Drive store and Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow. Following a critically praised collection in Milan, Donatella Versace arrived in Los Angeles early last week and worked nonstop through the weekend — giving TV interviews, strategizing a remodel of the store, attending to late-night fittings (even leaving a Saturday night party for an 11th-hour pinning) and making the party rounds. On Sunday, she even cohosted the 14th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation dinner with the singer, then ended the night at Vanity Fair to support more pals. “I wouldn’t miss being here for anything,” the designer said Saturday, between a CNN interview and a portrait shoot for Details. “Life is too short, too precious not to enjoy it fully.”

And the effort clearly paid off as Versace clad Uma Thurman, Hilary Swank, Jessica Alba and Salma Hayek on the red carpet, not to mention honorary Academy Award recipient Robert Altman and his wife. The Versace love-in didn’t stop with the show, either: Madonna, Lindsay Lohan, Julia Ormond, Adrien Brody and Anne Heche turned out in the label at the Vanity Fair party.

VINTAGE ADVANTAGE?: Best Actress winner Reese Witherspoon clearly one-upped fashion houses by purchasing her own Oscar gown from a Paris vintage store. (Her stylist, Nina Hallworth, who found it with her, declined to comment on the name of the store.) But Witherspoon wasn’t the only red-carpet walker to actually purchase her gown for a change: Jennifer Lopez bought her vintage Jean Desses gown at Lily et Cie two months ago, and Patricia Clarkson donned a vintage Sixties shift from her own closet. Meanwhile, Amy Adams got an ear up on the bling competition by donning a pair of Taffin by James de Givenchy earrings from Carolina Herrera‘s own jewelry box (of course, it helped that Herrera made her dress).

This story first appeared in the March 7, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

SIGHT UNSEEN: Maggie Gyllenhaal made her trip down the Oscar red carpet in a dress that had traveled a lot farther to get there: a custom-made Bottega Veneta gown straight from the fall ’06 collection. “She saw the dress after the show two weeks ago on the Internet,” said a company insider. “She thought it was so beautiful that she confirmed she would wear it without even seeing it.” Bottega artisans rushed to make the gown, in brown hand-washed flannel with hand-braided antique silver chains, in just two-and-a-half days. It then was driven to Milan to be flown to Los Angeles, where it arrived on Thursday for the house’s first-ever Oscar appearance.

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