In a year when movie stars were kissing their stylists goodbye, it could have been an anything-goes Oscars. But it wasn’t — and Julia Roberts said it all. With dresses by Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani at the ready, Roberts went for vintage Valentino couture from the fall ’82 collection, an old-style Hollywood glamour dress if ever there was one. (“It was a hard choice,” she admitted.)
Make no mistake, it was all about couture, especially French. Just ask Jennifer Lopez, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Hilary Swank: Ready-to-wear just won’t cut it, even if it’s for next fall. There was skin this year, but none of those cutouts and plunging necklines (except on Olatz Schnabel, whose Valentino was as wrong as Julia’s was right). Swank, last year’s fairy princess letdown, replaced J. Lo as the most bodacious babe in the house. “Touch it, feel it,” Swank invited onlookers as she caressed her molded Versace beaded column.
Bjork — surprise, surprise — provided, if not the Cher factor, then at least the requisite kook factor. When the Icelandic singer-actress was asked the age-old question, “What are you wearing?” she laid an egg. Literally. Bjork lifted up the tulle skirt of her swan dress and dropped a toy egg on the red carpet.
But for the most part, this year’s actresses took their fashion seriously. Sigourney Weaver never wavered in her careful articulation of “John Galliano for Christian Dior,” while Kate Hudson forgot the name of the house entirely and pronounced her blue dress and matching fringe capelet a “Stella McCartney.” The word “Chloe” went conspicuously unspoken. The only designer mentioned onstage was Giorgio Armani, who was named by Steve Martin in artful “anti-plug.”
Though Hudson was the most self-consciously fashion-y actress of the night, most ladies turned to the simplicity of the classics. Renee Zellweger found an old Jean Desses for the occasion, and Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden, who was wearing Randolph Duke, refused to have a picture taken until she’d mustered her best Forties pose. “I have to admit,” Harden said, “it’s all about Ava Gardner.”