Usually the Academy Awards red carpet is a sea of what stylists hope/fear could make Oscars’ best and worst dressed lists: ‘Old Hollywood’ gowns, Harry Winston diamonds, the odd kooky push-the-envelope dress with structural bits for ingenues who need to stand out.
Not in 2020.
Yes, most nominees went for safe and a stack of stars retreated to the comfort of black, but there were also those who sprinkled the whole event with gauche bad taste. And thus made it fun for us at home.
Let’s start with most divisive and high fashion Oscars dress. Clashing a modern plunging peplum with a dreamy ballgown skirt, Saoirse Ronan’s Gucci number was the fashion love child of parents who hate each other but are hanging in for the kids.
Margot Robbie was more understudy than leading lady in a vaguely dispiriting Grecian dress with giant gem. Time to break up with Chanel?
Renee Zellweger channelled Princess Diana circa 1996’s revenge dressing phase in an asymmetrical Armani dress.
Laura Dern looked like the heart of gold, good-time girl brought aboard a riverboat on a Saturday night by a down-on-their-luck gambler.
Scarlett Johansson was slinky and beautiful and predictable in champagne Oscar de la Renta. Typecast alert.
Brie Larson shimmered in superhero Celine.
Oh, Sandra Oh. Sweet William H Macy. A truly strange shower loofah of a dress that ticked every box for successful red carpet dressing: Original, just enough flesh, garish in a mannered way, loathed by many.
Natalie Portman looked Melania meets Star Wars but was actually woke, in a Dior tuxedo cape with the name of this year’s snubbed female directors including Greta Gerwig and Lulu Wang in gold cursive.
Penelope Cruz had fun in a Chanel halterneck ballerina dress, the first of several mullets on the red carpet.
Greta Gerwig was classy and classic in an olive bridesmaid gown. She’ll be able to look back in 20 years and know it held up just fine.
Newly blonde Olivia Colman was awesome in futuristic navy velvet that could be worn equally at Buckingham Palace or a space disco.
Florence Pugh’s Louis Vuitton was a luscious sugar rush of color but made her look like a teal Dalek.
Gal Gadot’s Givenchy gown was another tale of two halves, but felt more ‘done’ than Saoirse’s because of the fussy double lace and odd choker.
Catriona Balfe acted as Gal’s photo negative. Powerful juju.
Rebel Wilson came as an Oscar, complete with rigid hair and teeth.
Blac Chyna was all about subtleties. Meanwhile, some kid is looking for the tinsel off the handlebars of their Christmas bike.
Well, she is a comedian. Kristen Wiig’s dress was a striking homage to seahorses and lasagna. Weirdly, her shoes are what I don’t understand. Wait, are they gloves?
Billie Eilish owned her Chanel look after briefing her stylist she was in the mood for a group exercise class at a cashed-up retirement home. And sheesh, she would have struggled with the canapes.
Janelle Monae’s crystal-lacquered custom Ralph Lauren hooded dress was her version of paring it back.
Regina King embodied the traditional Oscars look in a strapless blush taffeta ballgown with bedazzled belt that was too bland for her.
Charlize Theron also stuck to the script, in a severely feminine Dior sheath with split and long train. Snore.
Frozen 2 singer Aurora was super cool, in a sleeveless kimono jacket, martial art pant and sneakers. Oh, and Legolas’ hair and headpiece from Lord of the Rings.
Lea Seydoux’s Chanel dress had a sporty racer front, 1920s drop waist and enough storage space under it to smuggle someone in.
Molly Sims’ daggy dress was the fashion version of a cupcake, all swirls and puffs and drifts of glitter.
But Cynthia Erivo did the dramatic swirly thing to perfection, smashing it in a sexy, contemporary Versace that every other person would have looked at and thought, ‘Damn.’
As usual, Rooney Mara looked terrified but needn’t have. She’s been down the sophisticated goth road many times before.
Diane Warren and Paul Antonelli may have had to avoid naked flames all night but their matching silver suits were couples goals. His was pure novelty, but hers was rock star power dressing.
Irish composer Eimear Noone teamed the top part of a pantomime medieval knight’s festival outfit with jeggings.
Timothee Chalamet (in Stella McCartney) came as a US postal worker.
Billy Porter’s Giles Deacon two piece, with sweeping print, gold feathers and platform boots, was inspired by Buckingham Palace art.
And that’s a wrap.