Tag: Oscars

2019 Oscars Red Carpet Rundown

Kittens, it’s that blessed time of year again: when we argue vociferously in the comments over the gowns and getups of the Oscars red carpet! Praise be!

I have opined in recent years that some Academy Awards red carpets have gotten…well, boring. But scanning through the images as they rolled in over the past couple of days, I was actively bouncing in my seat with delight to see some genuinely interesting and groundbreaking fashion on the step and repeat. Old school glamour absolutely has a place and shouldn’t be discounted, but I think the current zeitgeist (and certainly my own preference) is for more originality and personality in both design and styling.

This year had it in droves, particularly in the menswear category, which my soul thrilled to see. Nothing is hotter than a well worn tux or suit, but what a dull life it is when no one revisits or reinterprets the traditional stand by. Meanwhile, the ladies played with shape, flirted with menswear, and broke out the jewels. What a feast for the senses!

The red carpet and many (not all) of the awards also served to underscore how much style owes to the niches. Black culture, queer culture, nerd culture…aesthetics and innovation come from tucked away corners of society, and seldom from the mainstream. To see Style expressed rather than Fashion rewarded (not the same thing) was deeply gratifying. In fact, given the diversity of style to choose from and the myriad of important cultural news, it was difficult to break down what looked “good” and bad” for a lot of the people I wanted to cover.

Difficult…but not impossible.

Scroll down for my top picks, headshakes, screams of terror, and bafflement. Then let me know what you loved/hated and why!

 

The Good

Glenn Close in Carolina Herrera

Bow down to a woman who is LONG overdue an Oscar (even though I’m delighted that Olivia Colman won because I think The Favourite is one of the best films I’ve seen in years and her surprise and joy at her nod and win were so lovely to watch). Apparently her train weighed close to 50 lbs and while that seems a chore to drag around, she looked every inch a queen. And watching her stanning for another queen? *Chef’s kiss*

 

Regina King in Oscar de la Renta

Such a simple look, such perfect styling. Every single quotient here is correct: chic, sex appeal, elegance, impact. A mere centimeter more or leg or jewelry would have changed the mathematics, but left alone this whole look just sings. I may also be biased but I also give accessorizing points for when Captain America (himself fetchingly attired in a blue velvet jacket–we’ll return to the boys later) rose chivalrously to the occasion to help her up the stairs.

 

Angela Bassett in Reem Acra

The Queen Mother of Wakanda accepts your humble offerings of praise. I would normally grade the wrinkling much more harshly but I mean…just look at her. Her face should not be legal.

 

Constance Wu in Versace

This is so darn lovely in its execution! This is a look where all of the impact is in the details from the perfectly fitted and hemmed basics (required for the red carpet but sometimes missing in action for some reason!), the hint of glimmer at the neckline, and the absolutely stunning pleating across the bodice.

 

Gemma Chan in Valentino

I can already hear the shouts in the comments, but hear me out! It was difficult to see all the wild and editorial deployment of pink and not think of the character of Villanelle from Killing Eve and her famous pink confection by Molly Goddard. That piece in particular and most of the costuming of that show was dubbed an exercise “dressing for the female gaze rather than the male,” a take with which I agree and which I think we are seeing more and more of. Gemma Chan’s red carpet choices have been a great example of this and her pink frock was no different. Here is a ludicrously beautiful woman who could easily dress “safely” in her professional appearances, but has chosen deliberately editorial choices instead, playing with silhouettes and shape rather than traditional movie star gowns. This is not a traditional or safe choice, which is why I think it deserves a top billing.

 

Tina Fey in Vera Wang

A personal best, hands down.

 

Michelle Yeoh in Elie Saab

If ever there was a woman born to wear couture, it is she!

 

 

The Less Than Good

I am devastated to report that all three of the leading ladies of The Favourite (by far my favo(u)rite film of the year), let me down on the style front.

 

Olivia Colman in custom Prada

I am not going to judge this woman nearly as harshly as other stars. Like many noted and treasured British performers, she is not a Hollywood machine product and has not “invested” in fashion as a mechanism for attention or acclaim the way, say, Emma Stone has. That is not a criticism, by the way, it’s usually stonking good business sense! But it not correct to judge her by fashionista standards. And no, it has nothing to do with age. Both Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep are Women of A Certain Age, both are ferociously revered and fabulously talented. Streep has not utilized fashion the way that Mirren has and their efforts must be evaluated differently. But I digress. I think the color of this gown is gorgeous, her hair and makeup are impeccable and personal, and I love the beautifully embroidered tulle in theory, but I didn’t love the placement of it. Had this been draped differently, I think I would have liked it much more. Her acceptance speech, however? Genuine delight!

 

Emma Stone in Louis Vuitton

This pains me because I love both her movie and her, but this looked like pan fried meat. However, her unabashed love for her winning co-star was an absolutely joy to watch, click the link above if you want to revisit it again and bask in the heartwarming glow.

 

Rachel Weisz  in Givenchy

This pains me even more than Emma because I don’t just love her, she’s literally one of my favorite actresses ever…but this is just bad. The hair jewelry is beautiful but does not suit the rest of the look, which I can only read as cardinal fetishwear. And that is a BAD mental image right now. Again, a mixture of elements which, on their own are interesting, but don’t gel together well for me.

 

Lady Gaga in Alexander McQueen

I am sorry to disappoint on her big night but Lady Gaga for me was a case of so many individually good elements not being put together correctly. A structural gown with unexpected accessories is right in her wheelhouse, but the fabric didn’t seem to photograph well and had a wrinkled or unkempt quality in the shots I saw. And while her hair styling was an homage to Audrey Hepburn, whose iconic gems adorned her neck, the hair color and fake tan orange of her skin brought the look down. I am not a snob by any stretch of the imagination when it comes to style, but her particular mix of High/Low didn’t gel for me on her biggest red carpet night to date.

 

Charlize Theron in Dior

Sigh. I think it’s annual tradition at this point: Theron wears a Dior which I hate. She has a longstanding relationship with the house and is one of their brand ambassadors, but I have never felt they’ve done right by her. I feel the same way about Jennifer Lawrence, come to think about it… That necklace, however, is to die for.

 

Melissa McCarthy in Brandon Maxwell

Oh this pains me because I applaud trousers on the red carpet and live for a cape. But I did not feel that this iteration was an amazing deployment.

 

 

The Trends: Subverting Gender and Stereotypes

Pink Ladies

Helen Mirren in Schiaparelli – she can do no wrong.
Sarah Paulson in Brandon Maxwell – bad. Fire whoever pitched it.
Kasey Musgrave in Giambattisa Valli – not to my tastes but perfect for the wearer!
Maya Rudolph in Giambattista Valli – bad! Looks like curtains!
Marie Kondo in Jenny Packham – perfect! Sparks joy!

Pink was everywhere on this carpet which was a bit unexpected. We haven’t been having a pink “moment” in fashion, but on reflection we are having a series of decidedly female and queer empowerment moments in culture. Perhaps this constitutes something of a bold reclamation of unabashed femininity after a few rough awards seasons shadowed by #MeToo and other hard truths. No longer trying to make it in a “man’s world,” some of the most empowering messages we are hearing about and for women involve harnessing femininity (if you are feminine or choose to present that way) rather than subsuming it to more traditional (masculine) styles or perspectives. In other words, some girls like pink and they are going to wear it because they enjoy feeling girly, regardless of their age. Deal with it. And give them their awards.

 

Women in Menswear

Amy Poehler in Alberta Ferretti
Awkwafina in DSquared 2 – and it’s pink!
Elsie Fisher in Thom Browne – age appropriate and fun!

In a similar vein, some girls want to wear suits. Cool! Wear the suits, darlings, you look fab in them! I love menswear on women and enjoyed how many iterations of it we saw this year, even if I didn’t love all of them equally (sorry again, Melissa!).

 

Let’s Hear it For the Boys (in Velvet)

And finally, boys just want to have fun too! Fashion and style are often dismissed as feminine (and therefore frivolous) interests. Bullshit! Style and self expression through clothes is fun to do and plenty of men enjoy this space. We should vigorously encourage them wherever we find men dressing well, because the results…damn.

Oh, and there was a lot of velvet too. But, priorities.

Chris Evans in Salvatore Ferragamo

Chris Evans in Salvatore Ferragamo 

There are many Chris-es in Hollywood. He is my favorite. I may have rewatched the footage of Captain America being an officer and a gentleman towards Ms. Regina King a few dozen times at this point. Because…damn.

 

Chadwick Boseman in Givenchy 

He has consistently pushed red carpet styling for men so of course he wouldn’t leave us bereft at the Oscars. A highly traditional tux jacket is elevated by being absolutely encrusted with beading and flowing elements reminiscent of north African garments. He and the whole cast of Black Panther have been giving us the most gorgeous, high fashion, Afrofuturistic looks possible for a year now and the red carpet is all the better for it. Spare us safe, give us damn style!

 

Nicholas Hoult in Dior

Hot damn. The best of all the stars from The Favourite in an unusual take on the tux–almost feminine in the interpretation of a train, which is apropos given he played a glorious fop.

 

Jason Momoa in Karl Lagerfeld

He’s…look, he’s messy. But this look overlaps nicely with the pink theme and the more “flamboyant” looks for men, so it had to be included as a notable mention. Even if it’s really messy. But still, those muscles. Damn.

 

David Olelowo in Etro

Damn.

 

Stephen James in Etro

Damn.

 

Henry Golding in Ralph Lauren

DAMN.

 

Best In Show

Billy Porter in Christian Sirano

My god what a stunning look and absolutely perfect for the wearer, star of POSE. The look directly references drag ball star Hector Xtravaganza, updated for both 2019 and the wearer. Christian Sirano was an excellent choice as designer as having earned a reputation for dressing bodies that the more traditionally minded fashion and film industries have not cultivated. This for me summed up the best of the red carpet and the award wins this year–unfortunately leaving the Best Picture win aside. What was once underground and transgressive can still be unique and deeply unconventional while being more accepted in the mainstream as glamourous in its own right. Queer culture demands that both truths can apply and I love it!

 

Come, kittens, let’s argue!

2018 Oscars Gown Rundown

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”
— Rachel Zoe

This was a fairly staid year for the Oscars, which was probably appropriate seeing as how the industry has been rocked by a series of scandals at the highest levels of influence and power. Several of the speeches and acts throughout the night acknowledged the tensions and conversations without our society at the moment, but of course the clothes carried much of the action in their own right.

On the whole I found this a much less boring year style-wise than we have seen recently and there were a lot style themes to enjoy: women warriors, men in color, experimentation in volume (not all of them good…), and in many cases a sense of play. While the results didn’t always work, I’m glad to see more experimentation this year and hope it’s a sign of things to come in fashion and red carpetry in an age of #MeToo, #TimesUp, demands for better and more diverse representation, and diverse stories.

Enough pontificating! Sharpen you claws, my darlings, it’s time to opine on people’s fashion choices!

The Good

Gal Gato does a mix between a flapper and a superhero get up and I love it!

 

 

Screen legend and EGOT winner Rita Moreno chose to wear the gown she wore to the 1962 Oscars where she took home a trophy for West Side Story. There aren’t enough bow downs in the world. She is the very definition of a grand dame!

Mary J. Blige looked sublime in this frock. Apparently she is coming out of a nasty divorce and I can’t help but seen something of armor in her beaded bodice. Amazonian in the best possible way.

 

Jane Fonda in Balmain. Bitch don’t age.

 

Greta Gerwig in Rodarte which brought a much needed sense of lightness and whimsy to a fairly serious red carpet in an introspective season. Rodarte is notoriously difficult as a design house and many of their creations don’t seem to work off the catwalk, but the designers seem to have found a better rhythm lately and this one of the best of their work I’ve seen in a long time. Sunlight in frock form!

 

Danai Guira has been rocking a glorious warrior woman aesthetic for the whole of the Black Panther premier campaign and it has been fabulous to watch. So I think this choice of an almost demure princess-y gown in a highly feminine pink was a smart design move to flip the script of her recent red carpet narrative. It’s a relative “simply” gown but I had to show the Watteau pleats in the back to show how well constructed it is. Those jewels are to die for and the general of the Dora Milaje slipped out with just a touch of warpaint!

 

Lupita Nyong’o, meanwhile, went full glamazon! Her first Oscar gown was a beautiful Armani cloud that was light, ethereal, and dreamlike in its quality. She could not have flipped her own script more. This, much like some of the other styling I saw throughout the night, felt a bit like armor. I can’t help but get the sense that the women of Hollywood came dressed to do battle and, since they literally use clothes as communication for a living, I take that as a sign of things to come. Excellent.

Paz Vega does the correct amount of whacky in Christopher Bu. This could have gone utterly off the riles, but works for me in a weird way because she kept her styling so minimal.

Like I’m not going to show love to either Octavia Spencer or an emerald gown!

 

The Bad

The fun bit!

Maya Rudolph, representing the nation of Gilead…

When bad gowns happen to brilliant actresses… Sally Hawkins brought a very recognizable British nonchalance to the red carpet. It’s a grossly sweeping statement, but I find that there is a difference in how American actors and their international counterparts treat the red carpet. In the US, it’s very literally part of the job of being a star. Negotiations for pieces and the careful, coordinated use of clothing in promoting a film is a real industry making serious money. This isn’t to say that film stars of other nationalities don’t do the same, but I see less intensity from international stars (particularly those with a stag background, as so many of the best British actors have). You get the sense that they just aren’t going to Botox and constrict themselves within an inch of their lives, wear treacherous shoes, or frankly just make more of a fuss than they personally want to for a red carpet. Not even the Oscars. While I’m personally very supportive in theory, the Oscars (for better or worse) have a great deal with how you choose to look or present yourself to the industry and I don’t think this gown was a good choice.

Emily Blunt is harnessed into a Victorian nightgown here. The color and the lace effects look drab and silly. A different color with different accents (leather or metal for instance) would have changed this whole look around.

 

Zendaya is a magnificently beautiful young woman who looks as if she’s been shipwrecked and forced to swath herself in the remains of sails and riggings. Her face looks incredible, but the rest of this is dreadful.

I am an unabashed Emma Stone fan, but this was simply a bad choice for the Oscars. If she wanted to wear a lady tux, she should have gone the Evan Rachel Wood route or something, this getup feels like she couldn’t be bothered to dress up for the event. Since her gown last year was my favorite look of the night, this felt like a let down. A shiny, badly ironed let down.

This is…a lot of look, Taraji P. Henson. Look, far be it from me to shame women for dressing sexily, but I’d suggest either side cutouts, or a dangerous thigh slit. Both feels like too much. The fabric choice, art treatments, and general shape make this look more like a costume to me than couture.

Bad prom dress with an awful hem. Awful.

I adore Saorise Ronan’s acting but this Calvin Klein didn’t work for me at all. But C., you cry, what of Danai Guira’s gown you praised just moments ago! Well, guys, that was better rendered than this. The color choice (with a monochromatic shoe) washes her out badly and her makeup and hair could have been much bolder in contrast to the relative simplicity of the gown. This is case of poor styling making a basic gown bad.

 

 

The Ugly

There is a theme to this category this year and it’s “too much.” Everything that I hated this year was overdesigned, overly weird (and let the record show that there is a good way to do weird on the red carpet), or

Whoopi Goldberg…your team dressed you in a bad curtains or bed sheets and badly rumpled ones at that. Fire them all instantly.

 

St Vincent…what happened to your pants? This is what should be called “pulling a Bjork,” and while I’m all supportive and for more eccentric dressing, this goes well passed that and straight into whacky.

Amatus Sami-Karim makes me sad here because I’d love to see a colorful motif dress just blow the competition away, but this dress feels badly overdesigned in every way. There are too many elements that don’t seem to go together: the pearl studded mesh sleeves that aren’t sheer enough to be sheer or opaque enough to go with the rest of the gown, the train treatment clearly is supposed to be feathers but just looks messy, and the fabric choice looks cheap when I’m sure this thing was bloody expensive. Render this in white matte silk with a more cohesive sleeve treatment, and let that colorful embroidery sing, and this could have been a contender. The hair and makeup, however, are stunning. So is Mahershela Ali, while we’re being honest.

Salma Hayek was done no favors by Gucci, this was bad top to bottom. Seriously, go google some more images of this thing, it’s Not Good. Another case of far too many design elements all competing and clashing with one another and leaving its wearer much the worse off.

 

The Best Dressed

Allison Janey in Reem Acra looking downright, goddamn regal. It reminds me a lot of Lupita Nyongo’s red caped Ralph Lauren at the Golden Globes a couple of years back, which is a compliment all around, I think. The jewels are simple and stunning, the hair and makeup excellent, and the color simply but bold. The sleeves are allowed to do all the talking and they sing.

 

THE BOYS

Do you know what? Let’s hear it for the boys! A lot of men showed up and spoke up about the media year in review, including the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, which is nothing but good. And in more frivolous news, a bunch of them ditched the standard black tux this year and actually did something interesting in their fashion choices. More experimental male fashion! More color! Less heteronormative rigidity!

Daniel Kaluuya does Col. Mustard in the best possible way!

Tom Holland does British tailoring. He looks adorably serious.

Armie Hammer does red velvet. I and a seeming lot of lady Twitter all felt pretty good about this (*waves hand to encompass Mr. Hammer’s entirety) whole situation.

Chadwick Boseman. Long live the king!

Timothee Chalamet actually makes a white tux wearable and not a horrible 80s tribute.

You know what, Adam Rippon? Go for it. Fetishwear on the red carpet and shoes without socks, you let your freak flag fly, sir.

2017 Oscars Gown Rundown

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.

The Good

 photo Viola Davis Armani Prive_zpsflio3viy.jpg
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.

 

 photo Brie Larson Oscar de la Renta_zpsz5uyrt0z.jpg
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.

 

 photo Michelle Williams Louis Vuitton_zpsua00jpck.jpg
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.

 

 photo Mahershala Ali Ermenegildo Zegna_zps1usoooqv.jpg
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.

 

 photo Taraji P Henson Alberta Feretti_zpsvsez0xsr.jpg
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.

 

 photo Sunny Pawar_zpskzzy4qhq.jpg
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!

 

The Middling

 photo Alcian Vikander Louis Vuitton_zpsq8r5hntx.jpg
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.

 

 photo Scarlett Johansson Alaia_zpskqlcbskv.jpg
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.

 

 photo Charlize Theron Dior_zpswc9bcski.jpg
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.

 

 photo Felicity Jones Dior_zpsmkp94wxj.jpg
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.

 

The Bad

 photo Dakota Johnson Gucci_zpsvrrtbk32.jpg
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.

 

 photo Jessica Biel Kaufman Franco_zps7xcnitwv.jpg
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.

 

 photo Hailee Steinfield Ralph and Russo_zpsf8frr9ka.jpg
Hailee Steinfield is beautiful, but this Ralph and Russo frock is bad. Fussy, messy, colorless, and looking like bedsheets.

 photo Ava Duvernay_zpsi04kfwax.jpg
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

 photo Ruth Negga Oscar de la Renta_zpsyujb30zx.jpg
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!

 

 photo Janelle Monae Elie Saab_zps2rm5iykc.jpg
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.

 

Best Dressed

 photo Emma Stone_zpsiwdtgp70.jpg
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!

2016 Oscars Gown Rundown

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”
― Coco Chanel

It’s that time again, ducklings! Sharpen your opinions and your claws and let’s prepare to violently disagree with one another in the comments section: the Oscars Gown Rundown has arrived.

 photo toast_zpser3lkdmi.gif

Leo (finally) won an Academy Award and now tumblr will have to make a new level of memes to compensate for their pop culture loss. Seriously, though, I’m thrilled a movie about journalists reporting on religion won best picture–let’s face it, it’s my bag. But Mad Max also won for costuming, Thomas Cromwell–beg pardon, Mark Rylance got a well earned award, and Inside Out took home the animated category. I don’t have major objections to the lineup this year, minus the hugely valid #OscarsSoWhite conversation, worth noting. And so, to the judging.

 

The Good

Cate Blanchett

Let’s get this one out of the way because I somewhat expect to be shouted at for it, but I don’t care. Cate is Queen. This is not the first time she has worn a gown that would look awful on any other, lesser mortal and pulled it off, and it will not be the last. For that alone this Armani gown deserves love.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actress Brie Larson attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Brie Larson has already made a bit of a reputation for interesting red carpet looks. Some of them work, some are noble failures, but she is never boring. This custom Gucci suited her eclectic style perfectly. I don’t love the neckline (in fact I think the whole bust area looks a bit odd…which will be one of our themes for today’s reading from the Book of Style) but the color is beautiful and she won me over when her amazing belt demanded I bow down to it. So I did, and so I do.

 

 

Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie has decided she is the second coming of Michelle Pfeiffer, and I have decided I am here for that shtick. She’s found a look (late 80s and early 90s to be specific) and she is working the heck out of it thanks to Mr. Tom Ford. That being said, the hair really brings this look down…

 

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actress Kerry Washington attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)

Kerry Washington in Versace. Yell at me, sue me, I don’t care. The slit ends just south of the law from the wrong angle, the hair is not great, and Versace is a brand that often flirts with (or downright wallows in) tacky. It’s also a mix of couture, Wonder Woman, and operatic Valkyrie and I will defend that combo to the bloody death.

 

51982684 Celebrities arriving at the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, California on February 28, 2016. Celebrities arriving at the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, California on February 28, 2016. Pictured: Naomi Watts FameFlynet, Inc - Beverly Hills, CA, USA - +1 (310) 505-9876 RESTRICTIONS APPLY: NO FRANCE

Naomi Watts in Armani is a gorgeous, mythical mermaid and there is precisely nothing you can do about it.

 

Julianne More

Julianne Moore in Chanel. Fierce.

 

The Question Mark

Lady Gaga

I don’t…hate this Brandon Maxwell design. Should I? I think out of the box dressing should be rewarded on red carpets (and in real life) far more than it actually is, so I personally am all for the use of lady-trousers on the RC. But, alas, Weird Boob Syndrome struck again and I would have preferred to see a pair of killer shoes, which we all know Stefani can fully deliver. I really love her retro Hollywood style phase and think it serves her far better than the Meat Dress period of her…being alive and in public(?)…career, but this could have used a bit more and better styling.

 

Alicia Vikander

Another girl experimental in her style, I should like her choice, right? Sorry. While I cannot relegate Alicia Vikaander to the Bad or Ugly category, I can say that I do not like or support that Louis Vuitton OR its hemline in the slightest and find the color a bad one for her complexion. The jewelry and shoes, however, can be handed over. Now.

 

attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.

I like Daisey Ridley. I like Chanel. I cannot for the life of me decide if I like them combined on the Oscars RC. Make up my mind for me, darlings?

 

51982674 Celebrities arriving at the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, California on February 28, 2016. Celebrities arriving at the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, California on February 28, 2016. Pictured: Charlize Theron FameFlynet, Inc - Beverly Hills, CA, USA - +1 (310) 505-9876 RESTRICTIONS APPLY: NO FRANCE

Another year, another Charlize Theron + Dior = Boob Situation. The only thing that saves this for me is an absolutely expertly deployed use of some major jewels, but I’m willing to throw it out to the Minion Coterie: tacky as hell, or sexy as hell?

 

Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler in Andrew Ng. Come at me, bros! It’s different and I like it! We can step outside if you want! …Or, maybe I don’t like it as much the more I look at it? Take it to a vote, guys, I’m confused.

 

 

The Bad

Olivia Wilde

Bad Busts (also the name of my new punk rock band) strike again. Behold a particularly egregious deployment thereof. This Valentino gown is doing a gorgeous woman precisely zero favors, and the gym-hair and Edwardian choker are not helping. A major pass for me.

Mindy Kaling

I LOVE Mindy Kaling, but this Elizabeth Kennedy dress looked matronly and dull when she is manifestly neither one of those things! I like a salute to Old Hollywood as much as the next girl, but the fabric is too stiff and bulky here and the black looks dull. If she had opted for a full gown in that same shade of blue, she would have looked amazing.

 

Charlotte Riley

Charlotte Riley is a genuinely beautiful and interesting looking woman. This gown is neither of these things. It is aggressively bad. And again, a woman’s chest area is under assault–who did Anna Wintour snap at to make bad necklines A Thing this year? Was she angry? Are boobs “out” now?

 

Rooney Mara

I know, I know. It’s Rooney Mara in Givenchy. This is her look, that is her designer, and I admire her for developing a red carpet persona that delights in the weird and strange. But I didn’t like this at all, the cutout wounded me.

 

Jennifer Lawrence

Despite her contract with Dior, I manage to recoil from a surprising chunk of her RC picks–although let the record show that she has appeared on my best dressed lists in the past as well. None of this works for me, though, from the hair to the makeup to the Victoriana of it all.

 

Rache McAdam

Silk and green, if history is any indicator, I should like this look, but this August Getty gown looked bad on Rachel McAdams. It was wrinkled, it’s lines were too long, meaning instead of slinking it sort of slopped as it moved, and overall just managed to look like a sheet. Pass.

 

The Downright Ugly

Heidi Klum

There is but one entrant in this category this year for reasons that should be self evident. Let us set aside the recurring cleavage problem and pause to reflect that Heidi Klum is an international supermodel with TV shows, businesses, and a portfolio of work that most lanky, doe-eyed teenagers dreaming of fifteen minutes of fame in a tweet-length-attention-span world can only dream of. And this Marchesa is what she either was 1) given or worse, 2) chose to wear to one of the most watched fashion events of the year. In internet parlance, I am unable to even.

 

My Best Dressed Pick

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actress Saoirse Ronan attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

The gown is Calvin Klein and sheer gorgeousness. The color (besides my obvious bias) nods to Saorise Ronan’s own background as well as the movie she starred in, it is on trend and still visually interesting (the back is stunning, see here) and she is styled beautifully. The overall look is so gorgeous that I can’t even be bugged by the deliberately color contrast earrings, which would normally make my eyes twitch. Hands down, this the dress I want to run away with from this year’s lineup.

Your turn, kittens! Which looks did you love, hate, or still not yet made up your minds about? And if you want to sling some opinions about the nominees and winners too, it’s a free for all!

Oscar Review 2014

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
– Oscar Wilde

Ho boy, this is going to be a nicely divisive year, I can feel the comments section rumbling already! All in all, I’m quite pleased, there have been a couple of seasons of this now-annual event where I have found the frocks nice but boring, this year I feel we have something to talk about.

Major trends included statement necklaces (which I approve), lots of pale shades on pale girls (which I generally don’t), navy everywhere (which I’m fine with, it’s my kind of neutral) and pregnancy (which I’m too smart to have an opinion about here). J Law had the good sense to get her tumbling over and done with before the ceremony this year, Anne Hathaway has a comeback for all the haters obsessed with her bosom from last year, and we’re not even going to talk about Pharrell’s shorts.

If there was an overarching theme I noticed, I’d say there were some very definite nods to Old Hollywood glamor that I really loved. There were capes and vintage silhouettes and straight up call backs to iconic films and screen sirens. On the whole, I loved it. Dramatic and interesting are a lot more desirable to me than pretty and safe…usually. Sometimes things can go wrong. And with that, let’s delve deep into opininating.

Friends, minions, countrymen, lend me your thoughts!

THE GOOD

Lupita Nyong'o Prada

Lupita Nyong’o in Prada. Gorgeous frock on a gorgeous woman who has been nailing it on the style front all season. She’s an actress who masterfully harnessed the ability to stay in the public eye via her clothing early, professionally smart and stylistically successful. That blue sings on her and the whole thing moved beautifully. And I’m going to catch hell for this but as much as I think this look stuns, I have to admit I preferred the red caped gown she busted out at the Academy Awards.

Anne Hathaway Gucci

Anne Hathaway in Gucci. Speaking of smart! Remember the craziness last year when this woman was campaigning hard for an Oscar (not helped by a rather juvenile, breathy, “It came true!” when she got the thing) and everybody turned on her in the most ridiculous way for it? How her pink dress with unfortunate frontal puckering inspired instant twitter accounts and memes? Yeah, Anne Hathaway kindly invites the haters to eat it. This dress clearly calls back to last year’s in style and shape, but this time she’s literally darkened up and armored herself. Clever, clever stylist behind this one. Though I’m braced for minion pushback on this one, I stand firm that this dress was a deliberate Do Over and I say, go for it!

Cate Blanchett Giorgio Armani

C., you ridiculously contrary creature, I hear you exclaim, you hate pale women in pale shades. Well there’s always an exception, ducklings. Her name is Cate Blanchett, she is wearing Armani and she is stunning so you all will just have to deal with my hypocrisy.

Olivia Wilde Valentino

There were many bumps out and about, Olivia Wilde’s in Valentino was the best. Apart from looking wonderfully classy that gown has pockets. An instant win in my book.

Emma Watson Vera Wang

Emma Watson in Vera Wang. This is where my bias comes out because that 90’s looking t-shirt ballgown hybrid thing she’s got on that actually looks comfortable? I would totally wear that. [Editor’s note, I initially typed the designer in as “Vera Want.” If that isn’t subliminal messaging I don’t know what is.]

Chrissy Teigen Monique Lhuillier

Chrissy Teigen in Monique Lhuillier. …Look, let’s just ignore everything from the neck up, okay? There’s no justifying it so let’s pretend, just put your thumb over the screen for a second. Now look! A bold print on the Oscars Red Carpet!

THE OKAY

Oh here we go…this is where the pushback comes.

Amy Adams Gucci

Amy Adams in Gucci. This look was praised to the sky but to me it falls under the boring but safe in a big way. The navy blue is a perfect shade for her but the getup lacked some oomph for my taste. It’s also very similar to Jennifer Lawrence’s gown. Speaking of!

Jennifer Lawrence Dior

Jennifer Lawrence in Dior. She loses some points for the hair and makeup styling, and doing the down-the-back necklace thing (which I liked the first time, admittedly) two years in a row but the red (in a sea of muted blushes, darker but muted tones) won me over. To be fair, the photo is not at all doing the color justice here. On screen that gown was a gorgeous, sizzling red. Minions who can find me that exact shade of it in lipstick form will be promoted to an exalted state in my someday empire.

Viola Davis Escada

Viola Davis in Escada. She’s worn emerald green before (and for good reason!), and I love her hair and makeup, but the dress is a bit too shiny and oddly fitted.

Idina Menzel Vera Wang

Idina Menzel in Vera Wang. The dress is pretty (but safe, for a Broadway diva at least), the diamonds are to die for. But the face is washed out, the hair is bland, and the lips need color pretty badly.

Charlize Theron Dior

WHY? Why must Charlize Theron insist on wearing Dior gowns that do freakish things to her breasts?! This is going for Sargent’s Portrait of Madame X but the unfinishedness of the straps bothers me.

Kristen Bell Roberto Cavalli

Kristen Bell in Roberto Cavalli. Okay, but pale girl in a pale frock syndrome strikes again. She looks utterly washed out to me.

Elsa Pataky Elie Saab

Elsa Pataky in Elie Saab. Look, the woman is heavily pregnant with twins and she still showed up smiling and in heels. All I’m going to say is that I didn’t like it on her.

THE BAD

Sally Hawkins Valentino

Sally Hawkins in Valentino. This is one big helping of Too Much. Perhaps this would have worked better if styled differently or worn by someone else, but as it is it’s a pale shade on a pale girl with messy looking hair and too much detailing.

Alfre Woodard Badgley Mischka

Alfre Woodard in Badgley Mischka. No favors done to anyone’s chest region here.

Julie Delpy Jenny packham

Julie Deply in Jenny Packham. Cleopatra by way of the 1960s. This could have been ranked higher, but I think the hair styling tipped it over into frumpy for me.

Kerry Washington Jason Wu

Holding down the bump category for the Bad is Kerry Washington in Jason Wu. I anticipate pushback here too, but I don’t love this shade on her and think she looks just a bit too rumpled. The overall effect is of us catching her in nothing but a (admittedly luxurious) bedsheet, but not in a good way I find.

Julia Roberts Givenchy

Julia Roberts, no! A dress that looks like those droopy shirtwaists from the turn of the last century combined with a doily in mourning and a peplum too? This Givenchy doesn’t work for me at all.

Gabourey Sidibe Theia

Gabourey Sidibe in Theia. Too much everything.

Anna Kendrick J. Mendel

Anna Kendrick in J. Mendel. I sighed. From the back it looked like it could have been worn by that fabulously vamp fringe character from Singing in the Rain…then she turned around to reveal clunky shoes, awkward pleated layers, unattractive cutouts with unattractive netting, sheer panels, and sideboob. I dislike those elements on their own, put them together and I cringe. Easily my pick for worst of the night (Liza Minnelli is exempted because she is Liza Minnelli).

FAVORITE ACCESSORY

Karen O Camilla Staerk

Bring me that clutch immediately!

FAVORITE LOOK OF THE NIGHT

Sari Mercer

Sari Mercer. The hair, the lip color, the complexion, the diamonds, that gown. Do me a favor, everyone, and from now on let’s all mutually agree that I look like this 100% of the time, alright?

Now, it’s your turn. Come to the comments and decry my taste!

Let’s Play Dress Up

“You don’t make pictures for Oscars.”
– Martin Scorsese

I’m going to say it, I was blown away by how little I was blown away this year.  Once again, I was surprised to see how many of the presenters were better frocked than than the stars up for awards, quelle horreur!  As we speak stylists and assistants are cringing and bracing themselves for the Louboutins to come sailing at them.  Too many of the gowns were relatively colorless, and frankly more than a few people had major fit and styling issues – which means we have so much to talk about.  Grab your junk food of choice and tell me what you thought of the frocks!

The Good

JenniferLawrenceChristianDiorGoodNicoleKidmanLWrenScottGood
Jennifer Lawrence in Dior
Nicole Kidman in L’Wren Scott

Darkness and light!  The Dior was early in a long list of white, pale, blush, nude, and pastel dresses, but I think this was by far the best.  The fabric pattern give it some texture, and she looks as tall as an Amazon.  I personally loved the backwards necklace, very Old Hollywood.  Kidman brought some much needed va va voom to an otherwise fairly tame RC.

AmandaSeyfriedMcQueenGoodJessicaChastainArmaniGood
Amanda Seyfried in Alexander McQueen
Jessica Chastain in Armani

The pale frocks just keep rolling on.  The McQeen was actually a lovely lavender and the only issue I have with her is that her makeup matched the gown too much.  Chastain makes the cut because she frankly struggles on the RC (her baby blue boob monstrosity at the Golden Globes anyone?), and while I don’t love the color on her per se, I do love the color.  Hair and jewels are flawless.

CharlizeTheronDiorGoodNaomiWattsArmaniGood
Charlize Theron in Dior
Naomi Watts in Armani

“I’m sorry, did those other ladies forget to bring the drama?” I imagine Theron said to Watts as they stepped from their limos.  “That’s just fine, darling, because we’re here,” Watts said with a fabulous shoulder toss that nearly decapitated a wayward assistant.  Let’s just all be grateful that finally Dior came through because we all remember the assault in dress form Theron sported a couple years ago, finally la Dior juste!

FanBingbingMarchesaGoodJenniferAnnistonMaisonValentinoGood
Fan Bing Bing in Marchesa
Jennifer Aniston in Maison Valentino

Oh thank heavens, this thing was filmed after the invention of technicolor!  I have a couple of quibbles about the fit, but Fan Bing Bing is a glorious creature who wear things that mere mortals can’t – her chinoiserie inspired Cannes dress was magnificent, and she looks equally stunning her.  The styling is really lovely.  As for Aniston, I hated her hair but that deep red gown was really gorgeous.

The Meh

AmyAdamsOscardelaRentaMehSamantahBarksMaisonValentionGood
Amy Adams in Oscar de la Renta
Samantha Barks in Maison Valentino

Oh look…another pale gown…goody…  I foresee this being a debate dress: I don’t hate it but I don’t think it’s anything special at all.  Barks’ gown really is beautiful, and you can seldom go wrong with a good black gown…but it just seems a bit too (dare I say) dressed down?  I want it in my closet, but I don’t think I want it on the Academy Awards RC.

AdeleBurberryMehSandraBullockElieSaabBad
Adele in Jenny Packham
Sandra Bullock

Adele has a specific aesthetic that she seldom deviates from, with good reason, but I don’t think this is one of its best incarnations.  Sandra is wearing a vertical mullet, business on the top…what exactly is happening on the bottom?

AnneHathawayPradaMeh
Anne Hathaway in Prada

Anyone else surprised?  I was surprised.  She’s worn much better in her endless appearances running up to this shindig and her styling has been much better than this.  The detailing of the back, which you can’t see here unfortunately, bag and jewels are lustworthy but let’s run through the list of grievances: first of all another blush tone, second the hair just is not looking its best, and worst of all that seaming.  Anne Hathaway’s chest will be the Angelina Jolie’s leg of 2013, I fear.  As I understand, it already has a twitter account.

The Bad

ReeseWitherspoonLouisVuittonMehHelenHuntinH&MBad
Reese Witherspoon in Louis Vuitton
Helen Hunt in H&M USA

I’ve got the blues, minions.  I hate the side panels in the Vuitton, with a fiery passion.  And Helen…H&M belongs in the mall not on the RC.  Period.  The jewels are lovely but she looks badly fitted and rumpled.

OctaviaSpencerTadashiShojiBadKristenStewartreemAcraBad

Octavia Spencer in Tadashi Shoji
Kristen Stewart in Reem Acra

And now I’ve got the nudes – which isn’t nearly as fun as it sounds.  Octavia Spencer has a history and relationship with this house, but I think it they let her down a bit here.  Her gown last year was gorgeous, but frankly I’m getting mother of the bride now.  Doilies should never make it past the front door.  And I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a waterfall of tulle down Stewart’s backside, which I decidedly disapprove of.

JenniferHudsonRobertoCavalliBad
Jennifer Hudson in Roberto Cavalli

Hudson – NO.  Whoever did you hair needs to drummed out of the guild immediately.  I can see nothing else until that is fixed!

And the Ugly

JaneFondaMaisonValentinoBadSallyFieldMaisonValentionBad

Jane Fonda in MaisonValentino
Sally Field in Maison Valentino.

You two clearly have some commiserating to do do over how your stylists should be sacked.  We’ll leave you to it.  Valentino committed more than a few atrocities this year, in my opinion, and no amount of Samantha Barks can redeem these.

MelissaMcCarthyDavidMeisterBad
Melissa McCarthy in David Meister

Kill it with fire!  I think gray is an undervalued color and actually makes her skin and hair color look great, but the fit is really not good, she needed something much more tailored to her figure.  And, darling, your hair stylist has a grudge against you.

My Personal Favorite:

StacyKeiblerNaeemKhanbest
Stacy Kiebler in Naeem Khan

That is some fabulous art deco going on and I approve mightily.

Friday Links LV

“On Friday night, I was reading my new book, but my brain got tired, so I decided to watch some television instead.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

And, contrary to the general spirit of someecards.com, I mean it sincerely!
And, contrary to the general spirit of someecards.com, I mean it sincerely!

A week where you have to work over a holiday is never the best, especially when it’s a particularly sad case.  But rejoice, minions, because Sunday is that special night where we curl up in pajama pants, eat snack food, and get judgey about sartorial choices: the Small Dog Annual Oscar’s Gown Rundown (fifth installment now…yikes) rides again!   Will legs pop out of their sockets and get their own Twitter accounts?  What trends will cause the most hand wringing/adulation?  Will Peregrine ever forgive me for hating on Louis Vuitton last year?  Tune in!

I need these bookmarks.

I got lazy, compassionate, loyal, and witty.  (Sometimes, I try to be, damn straight and hopefully.)

Much needed I feel.  Margot always uses a certain symbol in her online interactions when she’s being sarcastic to avoid misunderstandings, which seems to help.

You couldn’t pry my emerald engagement ring from my finger if you tried, but I think that any of these would make stunning wedding rings.  Eclectic but somehow classic, I feel, and gorgeous!

Shoots like this undoubtedly give me unrealistic expectations of future London living, but it’s pretty all the same.  I also follow her blog [Aspiring Kennedy] and she’s got excellent travel tips and adventure tales.

But for the height (laughably unattainable) I was born in the wrong decade…

Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, both of which I highly recommend takes on the sanctity and vulgarity of royal bodies our our fascination with them.

Cats – walking across keyboards before there were keyboards.  I find this utterly charming.

Harrowing!

Hilarious!  (Hat tip Caitlin Jacobs.)

Interesting perspective on how Americans lean politically and why.

Minions are expected to report for judging (others, of course, we’d never judge you, dears) on Sunday night.  Here’s some homework in the meantime.

The (semi, at this point) weekly sheep.