Oscars 2014 Reviews

Oscar ‘Lite’

Cate Blanchett in Armani Prive with Chopard jewels

There was a palpable lightness to almost everything surrounding the 86th Academy Awards (the theme was movie heroes, past and present) which aired last evening. Host Ellen DeGeneres, who made three outfit changes (her signature dinner jackets and narrow pants in black and white, all white, and all black), kept things moving in her usual light, upbeat, and humorous fashion. She ordered in pizza to keep her star-studded audience well fed and happy, and took selfies with them, managing to crash twitter with over 2 million hits. And speaking of being happy, when Pharrell Williams (still wearing that Vivienne Westwood hat) performed his rousing rendition of “Happy”, he did so interacting with the high profile guests, actually shimmying with Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep, and Amy Adams, who were sitting in the front row. By the way, the soaring musical performances (Bono: “Ordinary Love”, Idina Menzel: “Let it Go”, and Pink: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”), were highlights of the evening as far as I was concerned. Oh, and then there was the fashion.

 Ellen Degeneres lightens up the 86th Academy Awards serving pizza to the guests

There is more buzz surrounding the Academy Awards, and especially, its highly anticipated red carpet, with each passing year. Actually, it has a life of its own and has become its own separate event.  It’s at this time of the year that everyone is a fashion expert, or so it seems. I’ve actually heard television reporters (some of them male), weigh in on the fashion side of it all, and some have opined that THE GOWN can “make or break” a star (or a designer) and it’s become even more important than whether or not she wins. I think that’s going a bit too far actually, but regardless, there is no question that there is a lot riding on one’s sartorial choice (or rather, one’s stylists’ choice), and the end result will no doubt have  far reaching consequences. If nothing else, you know those pictures will hauntingly be around forever, like it or not.

 Penelope Cruz in Giambattista Valli

But unlike ABC’s Lara Spencer, who actually said she looks to the red carpet to be personally inspired by the “beautiful stars in their beautiful gowns” (is she kidding?), I normally find these events to be nothing more than a parade of boring, dull, paint by the numbers gowns and jewels bearing iconic designer names, (I call it Red Carpet 101). I never expect to see much of anything that shows any individually, personality, true style, or chic – except Lupita Nyong’o. But still, I was a bit disappointed and overall, I found this third, final, and most important leg of the Awards Season, to be perhaps the most subdued (exemplified by Amy Adams in her very simple and practically unadorned navy Gucci Premiere gown). Quite frankly, I thought that in general, many of the stars, including the glorious Cate Blanchett, actually looked more spectacular at the previous events (though this time, Jennifer Lawrence looked better than usual in her red Dior narrow peplum gown).  And I won’t even mention screen legend Kim Novack who has had so much plastic surgery, she almost could not move her lips when she took the stage with Matthew McConaughey (not to mention that horrible pants ensemble she wore).

Lupita Nyong’o in customized Prada and Fred Leighton jewels

If there was an overall trend, it was the embrace of pale, lighter colors.Quit frankly, this was one season all black looked passe and uninspiring.  Even the guys, including Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey, and Ryan Seacrest, opted for white dinner jackets, instead of traditional black or dark navy, and pastels were the surprise hit of the evening.  This was exemplified by Lupita Nyongo’o who took home the Best Supporting Actress Award for “12 Years a Slave”. Her unique beauty and inner chic has already caused the fashion world to sit up and take notice and Miuccia Prada wasted no time in featuring her in Miu Miu’s Spring/Summer 2014 ad campaign. Unsurprisingly, she arrived in a custom made Prada fairytale blue pleated chiffon flowing gown (she said it was inspired by “champagne bubbles”), which was accessorized with a narrow diamond headband, earrings, and rings, by Fred Leighton, and bright red lips.

 Lady Gaga in Atelier Versace

Among the ones who went the pastel route: Camila Alvez in pale pink Gabriela Cadina; Lady Gaga in pale pink Atelier Versace; Penelope Cruz in pale pink Giambattista Valli; Jada Pinkett Smith in pale pink Versace; Angelina Jolie in nude beaded Elie Saab; Jessica Biel in flesh toned Chanel Haute Couture; and the Best Actress winner Cate Blanchett in pale Armani Prive.


-Marilyn Kirschner


Oscars Ark

Kerry Washington

Three days of rain abated just in time for the 86th Academy Awards however not before the red carpet outside the Dolby Theater became a sponge.  Pregnant Kerry Washington’s plum colored gown was showing a wet hem but she still managed to glow.  Ever the trendsetter, Pharrell Williams went hatless and pantless in his tuxedo Bermuda shorts, perhaps a concession  to the flood.

Pharrell Williams and wife Helen Lasichanh

As the show began Host Ellen DeGeneres immediately recognized the Biblical symbolism by referring to her last hosting stint.  “I hosted for the first time seven years ago,” said DeGeneres. “I am so honored that they had me back so quickly.” And this: “For those of you watching around the world, it has been a tough couple of days for us here,” she said. “It’s been raining. We’re fine. Thank you for your prayers.”  The allegory did not end there however as I observed a  trend of “twinning” perhaps inspired by Noah’s Ark when it came to the Oscar fashions.

Bradd Pitt & Angelina Jolie

It began innocently enough when I noticed that two name sharers with varied spelling namely Kristen Bell and Kristin Chenowith had the same “crumb catcher” neckline on their structured, pastel colored Roberto Cavalli gowns.  Chenowith’s gown channeled Oscar himself and the art deco nature of the beading was also very similar to Lady Gaga’s pale pink Versace (she is the face of Versace however I’m shocked that Donatella put her in something so “normal”).  Next there was Cate Blanchett and Sarah Paulson meeting on the red carpet for the first time.  They are scheduled to work together on a film beginning next week where they’ll be able to bond over the fact that they both like peachy hues in their Oscar gowns.  Cate’s selection featured an ivory beaded design by Armani Prive “it’s heavy but I loved it” while the “12 Years A Slave” actress opted for monochromatic Elie Saab.

Penelope Cruz

Metallics were also a big trend on the carpet and naturally, there were two to represent.  Angelina Jolie looking lovely also in Elie Saab and Jennifer Garner in a sassy silver fringed Oscar de la Renta certainly elevated the brunette side of the world.  The blondes seemed to prefer angelic white as evidenced by Naomi Watts in a beaded Calvin Klein column dress with “spider web” necklace and Kate Hudson in a show stopping plunged neck, silver beaded Atelier Versace with strong shoulders and a bit of a caped effect.  Women of darker skin seemed to favor flowy pastel pink as seen on Jada Pinkett Smith, Camila Alves and Penelope Cruz in a three-peat.  As far as the plunging neckline trend, thankfully Amy Adams let go of that one in a strapless and timeless navy blue Gucci but Lupita Nyong ‘O in robin’s egg blue carried it off in Prada as did Hudson.

Even the men were in on the pairing trend as Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey both wore white dinner jackets however Leto sported a crimson bow tie while McConaughey kept it classic with a black vest and bowtie.  “E” peacock Ryan Seacrest also got in on the white (Burberry) jacket trend sending the “ice cream man” look into a three-some as well.

Accessories were subject to going two-sies and I thought I was seeing double when I spotted the same red translucent Rauwolf clutch on Anna Kendrick and Bette Midler;  it worked equally well on youthful and more mature.  If endearing clumsiness can be called a trend then Jennifer Lawrence nailed the two-fer as well, falling almost as soon as she alighted on the red carpet this time rather than as she ascended the stage at the Globes.  J. Law also may have “twinned” herself wearing red again (strapless, peplumed Dior) after her major appearance in Calvin Klein at the 2011 Oscars.  She also did the backwards necklace thing once more which she did the last time she fell down at the Globes making me wonder if that trend could somehow be affecting her equilibrium.

Charlize Theron

Of course, a black gown could never be called a trend, and there were others, but no one did it better than Charlize Theron in her almost invisibly strapped black Dior with “ma-juh” diamond necklace falling into the decolletage perfectly.  True perfection stands alone.

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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