I’ll tell you this about the Oscars – they’re real.
– William H. Macy
Gather round, ducklings, it’s time to fight in the comments! That blessed time of year has arrived again, the annual Oscars Gown Rundown on SDS, where we admire beautiful things and people…and occasionally throw some shade at questionable fashion choices.
I’m not going to lie, this didn’t feel like an awards show where the fashion was for the ages. There were some beautiful pieces and looks but it was fairly tame overall. The real drama this year lay elsewhere.
First and foremost, I am pleasantly delighted and shocked at Moonlight’s upset win over long declared favorite La La Land. The disorganized mess of having to apologize for announcing the wrong film and then get the correct team and people on stage to take their bow was cringe-worthy. But the fact that a small but powerful film about race, sexuality, poverty, and masculinity upset yet another film where Hollywood is fairly self congratulatory and referential is a win, as far as I’m concerned.
Other major stories were Mahershala Ali’s win for Best Supporting Actor, which I believe is the first win for an American Muslim actor of any kind, and Viola Davis being the first woman of color to win an Emmy, Tony and Oscar award. Asghar Farhadi was not present to accept his award due to the politics of the travel ban, and lots of people were sporting pins or other supporting design elements for the ACLU and other organizations. While the fashion might not have been speaking as loudly, plenty of statements were being made.
Viola Davis looked flawless and her speech was powerful–no surprise there whatsoever. Her Armani Prive gown was a stunner and perfectly executed. One design detail more and this would have looked messy, but the single design note of an unusual neckline married to a powerhouse red, and the results just sing.
I will always fall for a deceptively simple looking gown and Brie Larsen’s Oscar de la Renta nailed that criteria. A cross between’s Sargent’s Portrait of Madame X and a flamenco dancer, loved it. I would have liked a different hair/accessories look, however.
Michelle Williams has stuck to a rather precious and twee look for years now. Sometimes it works in her favor, sometimes it doesn’t. This Louis Vuitton is an example of the former. Another deceptively simple frock with some exquisite details.
No, this is not a gown. It remains a “best dressed” contender regardless. Men’s fashion is often wildly overlooked when done well, and is more often bypassed entirely by male actors who phone it in for events or photoshoots while their female counterparts spend hours preparing thousands of dollars worth of couture and accessories to just show up in public. Mahershala Ali did not phone it in, his Ermenegildo Zenga suit is perfectly tailored and (though you can’t see it well in this shot), his suit contains a subtle pattern that is a delightful change from the typical tux. He is also, let’s face, extremely easy on the eyes.
Speaking of not phoning it in! Taraji P. Henson decided she was going to armor up in the the most fierce af getup she could find, and that’s exactly what she did. Another relatively simple gown by Alberta Feretti paired with major jewels and even more major attitude.
Okay, I can admit that Sunny Pawar is here most because he’s adorable. I also admit he could have used a better hem job but I fell hard for his amazing shoes and stay fallen. I’m a big proponent of child actors dressing age appropriately on the red carpet and when I see it, I signal boost!
This look proves that the devil really is in the details. Alicia Vikander in Louis Vuitton looks very similar to Brie Larsen in several key elements, but I found this look fussy and overly complicated in a way that didn’t suit its (obscenely gorgeous) wearer. It looks like a ballet costume rather than an Oscars gown.
I love prints on the Oscars red carpet and they are not often deployed, unfortunately. But Scarlett Johansson in Alaia shows why that may be the case. Her hair, makeup, and jewels are stunning but her outfit looks…tacky. The fabric looks cheap, I don’t think that the belt suits the look, and the blouson bust area isn’t doing her spectacular figure any favors.
Sigh. We can set our clocks by it at this point. Charlize Theron is a Dior ambassador and faithfully wears them each year, and each year in recent memory, her bustline has been assaulted in some way by the design. Like unto Scarlett Johansson, the blouson cut is really taking away from this look for me. A bit more fitted and this dress would have been the perfect vehicle to carry off those stunning jewels.
Felicity Jones is absurdly pretty in that English Rose kind of way, but this Dior seemed very twee for such an event as the Oscars. On a younger, perhaps teenage actress this would have been lovely, but it underwhelms for an event that is supposed to be a fashion highlight of the year. Her hair is also very low key which contributes to the underwhelm of this overall look for me.
No! No, Dakota Johnson! Whichever of your team members voted for this Gucci gown must be shown the door immediately. The color is not particularly great, but add to it the incredibly basic hair, next to no make up, and top it off with the fact that no one seems to have remembered to steam your dress properly and you have been Let Down.
I wanted to like this Kaufman Franco dress on Jessical Biel, I really did. It looks like a drag gown, and I mean that in the best possible way! But I feel she was badly let down by the styling of the look, her makeup looks harsh and her hair color and style a bit severe when paired with a bold but tailored gown. Normally I like looks to be balanced between drama and restraint, but the restraint here overpowered the drama.
Hailee Steinfield is beautiful, but this Ralph and Russo frock is bad. Fussy, messy, colorless, and looking like bedsheets.
There was a “buttoned up” micro trend to several looks this year, which is not a bad thing. Done well, severe or even religiously overtoned looks can pack a punch. But this gown on Ava Duverny looks heavy and awkward when she could have looked armored and dangerous.
The I Literally Can’t Make Up My Mind
A lot of people are falling over themselves to praise Ruth Negga in this Oscar de la Renta but I find myself torn. In some images this looks dramatic and beautiful, in others it looks odd and dare I say a bit frumpy. I have nothing but love for her selection of jewels (bring back tiaras, I say) and I love her makeup look independently from the gown, but I find them a bit oddly matched together. The darker garnet shades of her jewelry and smokey eyes don’t seem to match the better aspects of a floaty, peasant-y frock. Help me make up my mind, kittens!
Janelle Monae has developed a red carpet persona that she rarely deviates from: black and white and drama all over. This Elie Saab is certainly dramatic! A cross between 18th century, Elizabethean, and fetishwear, I should be all over this, but it’s not coming wholly together for me. I think that having both a sheer top and sheer paneled inner skirt made the look veer more towards tacky while all of the embellishments seem to compete. I’d have loved this look more if the skirt had stuck with either the layers of beaded black tulle, or committed solely to the layered white motifs. Both are too much.
Emma Stone’s Givenchy dress was the runaway red carpet star for me. The subtle gold tones were varied enough to keep from being flat, while the detailing did the heavy lifting. From the Old Hollywood hair (which I’m always a sucker for) to the simple yet stunning beauty look (apparently by Nars cosmetics), she clearly came ready to walk away with her Oscar. A gorgeous look!