Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The 2018 Oscars Red Carpet

The Oscars Red Carpet - a chance to dress up in the most glamorous gown you can get your hands on for the evening.  Although these days, it seems like a requirement to wear two or even three dresses throughout the evening; one for the Red Carpet, one for your onstage look, and another for the after parties.  Years ago, it made sense to me for the few women wearing ball gowns that took up half a city block of space to change for the Vanity Fair fête (if only to keep people from treading on the haute couture), but why does everyone have to do it?  Don't get me wrong . . . I love gorgeous clothes, but this is becoming a bit excessive.

I will start with what I believe is my favorite look of the night.  Laura Dern is stunning in Calvin Klein.  I love the asymmetry, the earrings, the ring . . . not sure what is going on with her feet, but if the rest of the outfit is any indication, there are some fabulous shoes hiding under the fabric.  The only thing that gives me pause is the purse.  It's not terrible, but I don't think it adds to the look, and do any of these women really need a place for their lipstick, etc. when they have an entire pack of people looking after their every need?  I often feel that asymmetry is overused and not very well done, but in this case the look is effortless and so very beautiful.  And look - no horsehair, so the hemline drapes nicely as the body position lowers half of the dress to the ground.

There were quite a few other looks in white or cream tones.  I believe there was an article that Margot Robbie's gown took an extremely long time to create (something like 600 hours), and I believe it.  While I would be thrilled to see any piece of Chanel Haute Couture in person, and I am sure that this is a work of art up close, I am not sure all of the elements work together as you step back to view the garment as a whole.  The piece is so structured through the bodice, and the tulip hemline and the soft draping of the train does not match for me.  I don't think the purse is necessary (although it works nicely with the skirt portion of the dress, not so much the bodice) and the hair looks like an afterthought.  Those beaded drapes look ratty from this distance; I had assumed they were bits of tweed fabric before seeing the close-ups.  Then again, couture is all about the up close details.  Still, not my favorite.

Jane Fonda's choice of Balmain is a good one.  I actually assumed that this was Versace, although those shoulders are classic Balmain.  I think the neckline and the shoulder pads are amazing.  Not sure that I like the shoes - this dress does not need a sandal, but would look a lot better with a pointy closed toe shoe.  And I desperately want to see this with a darker lip - it looks like the makeup artist didn't have time to finish before Jane headed out for the event.

I debated whether or not to include Janet Mock in this critique because the dress is fairly uninteresting.  I am not even finding the designer's name, so perhaps others felt the same way.  The fit is great, but I don't really like the textured dress fabric paired with the chiffon train.  But her hair is so fantastic!  And this is a woman who actually looks good with a toned down lipstick.  Love the diamond earrings against the dark hair.  From the shoulders up, this is perfect!  But I am still bored with the dress.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge chose a Vionnet gown.  This looks like something Ginger Rogers would twirl around in during an old Technicolor movie, and I would love to see this piece in motion.  I do wish the makeup was a bit more interesting, and perhaps some jewels in her hair.  And now that I look again, I would love a belt of some kind, perhaps with a diamond buckle at the center front.  Her skin tone really matches the dress, and although this often does not work, I think she pulls it off.  And I do love those sleeves!  It's a low key choice, and something that would work at a garden party, but this works for her.

Speaking of skin-toned-esque gowns, this is Elie Saab Couture on Zoey Deutch, and it does not work for me.  I don't think the color does her any favors.  In a bold jewel tone, I might really begin to like this look.  Although, the proportions of the skirt tiers are not quite right.  I do love the classy ball fringe (I assume they are beads, although it's difficult to tell from the picture)!  Her hair looks lovely, and I rather like the restraint when it comes to jewels, but why did she wear that bleh color?

It seems that Gal Gadot is incapable of looking anything other than radiant.  I love the Givenchy gown, and I love that the photographer captured some of the movement of the fringe.  The peep toe sandals really work, and I like the simple hair with such a sparkly dress.  What gives me pause is the necklace.  I really love the piece itself, just not with this look.  I think it looks a little too heavy and weighs the dress down.

I am not sure what Lesley Manville was going for with her choice of this Anna Valentine gown.  Why do the sleeves extend all the way over her hands in that sheer organza?  The asymmetry of the fabric paired with the neckline and the poofy sleeves has me very confused.  It's just too much.  I am going to remember her in those impeccable suite from Phantom Thread, because this is just too confusing.

There is something about this  J. Mendel on Leslie Bibb that I really like.  It's probably the slightly 1930s vibe I get from the overall silhouette and slightly deco look of the embellished pattern.  I can't decided if the shoulder treatment looks clunky, or if I really like it.  I love an epaulet-like sequined shoulder on a 40s sleeved gown, but not sure about this one.  I really am torn.  I love the sheer quality without being one of those "show me your panties" gowns, but I hate things like that flesh colored band holding the deep-v together.  Can't J. Mendel figure out a better way?

Taraji. P Henson looks like she is auditioning for Game of Thrones in custom Vera Wang.  Her face and hair are on point, but the dress looks like a shredded mess.  And enough with the hip bone high slits!  I blame Angelina Jolie.  And the skirt lining looks like cheap polyester . . . I highly doubt it is, but it bunches up oddly under the tulle.  

Does anyone have the urge to pack a picnic lunch?  Why is Haley Bennett wearing part of a lawn as a gown!?!  I really enjoy Maria Grazia Chiuri's sense of whimsy and I am thrilled that she is at Dior, however, I am rather confused by this choice on a red carpet.  It might work in a runway setting, but this looks like she was bringing the miniature golf course with her to the party.

This color is amazing on Octavia Spencer.  The Brandon Maxwell gown works really well on her figure, although the seamlines on the bodice are horribly puckered.  What the heck happened there?  The draped neckline is really lovely, though.  I just wish someone took a bit more care with the construction of that bodice.  I do like all of her accessory choices.  But still so very distracted by those bodice seams.  

I would bet that Jennifer Lawrence's Christian Dior dress is a whole lot of fun to wear.  She does disco queen very well.  Not my favorite, but well styled, although I question the bracelet choice . . . diamonds instead of gold?!

Zendaya looks like she’s 40 years old in Giambattista Valli Haute Couture.  This lady can wear just about anything, so I am not sure what possessed her to choose this particular dress.  Her hair and makeup are flawless, and I think the nude lip works well here.  The earring and bracelet and ring are stunning.  I just think this is way too matronly on her.

Oh, Armie Hammer.  There are very few men who could pull off this velvet Giorgio Armani suit.  George Costanza is mighty jealous.  I do wish the shirt studs were dark colored.  All of that white needs something to break it up a bit.

Emma Stone showed up in her pajamas.  They are very cute Louis Vuitton pajamas, but they don’t belong on this red carpet.  I could see this look on a People's Choice red carpet, but for the Oscars?  And the underbust tucks with the belt looks sloppy.  Don't like the earring paired with the ankle bling on the shoes.  It all looks so haphazard.

I usually love Viola Davis’ color coices.  This one, however, does not do amazing things for her skin tone.  And the fit through the bust does not look quite right on this Michael Kors Collection gown.  The hair is not my favorite, and those earrings cheapen the whole ensemble.  Definitely not my favorite of her red carpet looks as of late, but I guess you can't get it right every time.

Samara Weaving in Schiaparelli Couture is an example of a great pairing of a clutch with the dress.  It looks like it belongs, so you might as well carry it with you (even though we all know you really have nothing in there and your handlers are carrying all the important stuff).  The hair is a mess, though, and I don't believe the dress is very flattering on her.  But the purse goes great with the gown!

Oh dear, Zac Posen has lost it.  He wastes some gorgeous fabric on this thing?  I remember seeing this gown modeled by Kate Upton and it looked ridiculous.   Andra Day does a better job of making this thing work, but it is all over the place.  I am not a fan of nail talons, but I think it is one of her "things," and I do like the combo of the nail varnish and those shoes, which are probably my favorite part of this outfit (although I would like to see them closer).  I like the necklace falling into the cleavage, and the hair is interesting.  But I really think this is way too busy.  The fabric itself it gorgeous . . . I would definitely like to play around with it in the sewing room!

Paz Vega's choice of Christopher Bu is also unexpected, but I believe this dress works as an art piece.  It's not something I would want to add to my collection, but the beautiful print with the origami-like cut of the shoulder drapes work together beautifully.

Allison Janney in Reem Acra is one of my favorites of the night.  Love the dress!  Not sure I would have chosen that necklace with the medieval sleeves, but it's not too terrible.  Why, though, is she carrying that purse?!?  They way she is barely holding it makes me suspect that she thought it was a silly idea, too.  Don't let you stylist boss you around, Ms. Janney - your instincts were spot on to leave that thing in the hotel room.

Meryl Streep looks really, really good in Christian Dior Haute Couture.  The fit is almost perfect, although that hemline looks just a skosh too long for her.  (I am beginning to think that these ladies get fitted in the morning, and by the time the red carpet comes along, they are slightly shorter than they were first thing in the morning.)  I am not really liking the belt situation here . . . why is it too long, when this dress was clearly made just for her.  It looks too accidental, and not as if it were a  design choice.  I do think the accessories, including her glasses, look amazing, and her hair is perfection.  Would have like a bit more color on her lips,  too,

Alas, the incredible red gowns were bound to falter at some point.  This Romona Keveža design on Christine Lahti isn't the right color red for her skin tone, and it looks like a bunch of different dress ideas were thrown together at the last minute.  It's a classic full length gown with sleeves, but then that slit makes it look like a something from the 1990s, and then someone decided to add a train which the actress looks very uncomfortable holding?!  I don't like the shoe choice, and why does her clutch have a clip on hand holder dangling there?  Nope, I don't like this at all.  The fit is wonderful, however, so someone did their job right!

Ashley Judd is wearing custom Badly Mischka, but this looks like something that could be found at Macy's. The bodice looks slightly oversized on her body, and the necklace is too long for the neckline.  I think the color is stunning on her.  But where is the lipstick?  The hairstyle also looks like she threw in some hot rollers at the last minute - it's not terrible, but why not put a bit more energy into it for an event like the Oscars?

I wish I could find a picture of Laura Louie's dress without Mr. Harrelson blocking it!  Love the color, love the draping.  Don't love the lack of lipstick . . . again - it's an epidemic.  I would have like a bolder earring with this dress and the bare shoulder, but I really like this one.  Get out of the way, boring man in a tux.  Okay, the lapels are animal print and match the welt pockets, so it's not as boring as usual, but what is with the invisible shirt studs?  I don't like this trend, either.  Men get to wear so little bling, and you take that away from them?!

At first look, Salma Hayek looks like an unfortunate actress that agreed to wear one of the Project Runway challenge dresses.  What the heck was she thinking?  The hair is a mess, the color of the dress does not do anything for her, and that purse looks like a Lancome gift with purchase.  This is just . . . embarrassing.

For a palette cleaner, let's look at Jennifer Garner in Atelier Versace.  Ahhhh.  So much better!  This woman keeps getting more and more beautiful every year.  The draping on this gown is fabulous, and the color is marvelous!  There is something about the neckline that I am not totally sold on, but she looks amazing.  I do wish her lip was painted a color that popped a bit more, but I love the minimal jewelry. 

Nicole Kidman in Armani Privé.  Well, so much for the color blue saving the Oscar Red Carpet.  What is going on here?  This looks like it is made of plastic and belongs on a barbie doll.  I normally adore oversized bows and drapes on structured dresses, but this looks awkward.  The center front slit looks a little too high - how is she going to sit down?   I hate the choice of shoes here.  I have been enjoying Nicole's fashion choices lately, so this is a real disappointment.

Aaakkk.  The blue just keeps getting worse.  Is Mirai Nagasu in Tadashi Shoji wearing bike shorts under her dress?  What is up with that lining?  Perhaps this was supposed to be one of those show my underwear gowns and she felt a little too exposed?  The dress is also hemmed too long.

Dame Helen Mirren to the rescue.  She continues to stun, this time in Reem Acra.  I do wish that necklace was a little higher so it worked perfectly with the dress neckline.  I'm not thrilled about the black shoes, but they are barely visible, so I am not completely distracted.  Proof that you don't have to cover yourself with sequins and lace and god know what to look gorgeous on the red carpet.

And here comes Whoopi Goldberg in Christian Siriano, the opposite of understated.  Yikes.  I think I might like the fabric at another time and place.  Is the black section at the décolleté some kind of foundation garment that should not be visible?  Because it looks really sloppy.  The necklace has nothing to do with the rest of the outfit, but perhaps it has some personal significance?  And I really could do without the sunglasses.  But then again, she's Whoopi.

And the biggest surprise of the evening for me was Janelle in Christian Siriano.  No one else could get away with this, and I'm not digging the pant length, but this lady knows how to stand out in a crowd!  And can we talk about her hair?  I love it!!  So while I am far from a Siriano convert, if he dresses the right woman, I can get behind his design work every once in a blue moon.

[Click on image for source]


  1. Thank you once again for your red carpet post! I love reading your critiques and pretty much agree right down the line. The drape on Margot Robbie's dress looks like her 3 year old decided to "decorate" her with an old Christmas garland.

  2. Nice summary! Jane, dear Jane (Fonda), STOP the plastic surgery; you are beginning to look like Joan Rivers! Anyone notice how after so many surgeries, everyone starts to look like Joan???

    1. Linda, I actually had something to say about Jane Fonda's face but ended up taking it out (it looks slightly better from a couple of months ago, but that's not saying much). It is distressing to see so many women go that route.

      Helen Mirren makes up for all of the botox/surgery folks - she should be a case study on how to age gracefully in the film industry!

  3. Laura Mae,

    You continue to be wonderful!

    Thanks for keeping on,

    A fan

  4. i love how you look at every element, things I hadn't even noticed and then go 'yep, I can see that'.

  5. Love this and agree with many of your comments. You do manage to pick out things I hadn't noticed but agree with once spotted. I also would pick Laura Dern as my favourite of the night.

  6. Oh Janelle. She can do anything!! So often I'm most impressed with her look, even if objectively I don't like what she's wearing.