Two opposing trends ruled the Oscars red carpet Sunday night: girlie – in tulle and feathers and pink, oh my – and women in pants.
But it took a guy to encapsulate the duality. Billy Porter won the red carpet from the get-go in his Christian Siriano tuxedo-ballgown combo, capturing these gender-bending times perfectly.
The women in tuxedo variations and pants were a breath of fresh air, not that it hasn’t been done before, but because this was almost a critical mass. Amy Poehler in Alberta Ferretti and Allison Janney in Pamella Roland (it had a skirt, but was gorgeous) topped the list, which included Jennifer Hudson (performing), Melissa McCarthy, Awkwafina, Elsie Fisher, Diane Warren and Sandy Powell. Honourable mention goes to Nicholas Hoult in Dior, with beautifully draped lapels.
Pretty in pink
Then there was the pink parade, from the delicate spangled Jenny Packham worn by tiny tidy guru Marie Kondo to the billowing fuschia Valentino Couture gown on Gemma Chan.
That Valentino collection was the hit of the couture season, leaving Céline Dion in tears and garnering rave reviews. On and off the catwalk, I loved it all – and can’t resist hot pink – but not everybody did. Taken together with Linda Cardellini in acres of fluff by Schiaparelli, and Kacey Musgraves in a cloud of baby pink tulle by Giambattista Valli, it just goes to show that fashion runway does not rule the red carpet. It’s all about context. The catwalk is a lab, whose ideas are often best distilled for real life, though the red carpet is hardly real life.
On the other hand, Helen Mirren in a pink rainbow of chiffon by Schiaparelli was a winner (as Mirren always is), while Emilia Clarke shone in column of metallic lavender by Balmain.
Awkwafina’s metallic pink suit by DSquared2 could have been a better fit. Also in pretty pink if not always pretty in pink: Julia Roberts in Elie Saab, Angela Bassett, Kiki Layne in Atelier Versace (the more I study it, the more I like it), Maya Rudolph and Sarah Paulson. Honourable mention to Jason Momoa in a pink velvet suit by Karl Lagerfeld.
So: my favourites of the evening:
Regina King, regal in a beautifully draped white column by Oscar de la Renta.
Charlize Theron, always the Hollywood goddess in backless Dior Couture, red lips, perfect hair and a snake coil of Bulgari diamonds.
Emilia Clarke in sculptural Balmain.
Allison Janney in Pamella Roland.
Helen Mirren in Schiaparelli.
Olivia Colman in a green Prada column, with a somewhat difficult but lovely spangled chiffon shawl-train and sleeves.
Nicholas Hoult in Dior.
And I don’t know why – it’s not exactly a column– but Marie Kondo’s pink and silver Jenny Packham.
Not the favourites
What were they thinking?
Rachel Weisz in red Givenchy, the two parts of which did not make a whole, topped with an even more incongruous headband.
Emma Stone in winged copper Louis Vuitton.
More honourable mentions:
Lady Gaga’s yellow Tiffany diamond necklace with its 128.54-carat stone that almost – but not quite – eclipsed the passion, heat, chemistry of her duet with Bradley Cooper.
Melissa McCarthy (with Brian Tyree Henry) in a sendup of Olivia Colman’s Queen Anne with 17 bunnies (and Mary Queen of Scots hair) delivering the best costume award.
Finally, and this is not an honourable mention: Glenn Close’s snub on best actress made us feel very sad indeed that she had dressed in caped golden Carolina Herrera to match her expected trophy.