Oscars 2024: “The Last Word”

92 year old Rita Moreno in Badgley Mischka, Photo Getty images

Fashion Month officially ended with the 96th Academy Awards aired on Sunday evening. The Oscars started one hour earlier, but as four-time host Jimmy Kimmel promised, it would be a long, drawn-out evening regardless. It wasn’t. The ceremony was over before 10:30 PM.

“The Oscars’ move to after Paris Fashion Week has helped ease Los Angeles event planning. (Remember when fashion editors used to do the back and forth?)”

Booth Moore, WWD

Before the show, Kimmel, who walked the fine line between respect and disrespect, said, “You know you have a good show when you’re cutting good jokes.” Among Jimmy’s entertaining quips was telling Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling that they had already won the genetic lottery, even if they didn’t win anything tonight. “You’re so hot. Let’s go camping together and not tell our wives,” said Kimmel to Gosling

When Kimmel spoke about “Poor Things,” the second most nominated movie after Oppenheimer, he described Best Actress winner Emma Stone’s character Bella Baxter as an “adult woman with the brain of a child, much like senator Katie Britt, who delivered the Republican rebuttal after the State of the Union address last week.” Halfway through the show, Kimmel returned to the stage sporting a pale tuxedo, saying, “I changed so that they couldn’t edit me out.”

“I feel like brands have come over and taken over Oscars week,”

– Keith Baptista, co-founder of creative agency PRODJECT.

The recent runways emphasized elevated day wear (catchphrases were “make the everyday sublime” and “make the ordinary monumental”), but let’s face it; the last thing anyone wants to see at the Oscars is every day or the ordinary, and luckily, many brought their A-game. The words lovely and elegant kept coming to mind.

Yes, I’m also referring to the guys, many of whom accessorized their tuxedos with tasteful brooches or discreet diamonds. Japanese filmmaker Takashi Yamazaki accessorized his tuxedo with a gold Godzilla. Well, it’s the Oscars, after all. Of course, what would an Oscar ceremony be without a political statement? Several stars wore a red pin to symbolize their support of an Israel-Hamas cease-fire.

The most notable designs highlighted strong sculptural shapes over ornamentation. Still, more than that, I’m always thrilled to see women asserting their individuality, doing their own thing, and not adhering to the predictable red-carpet formulas.

Andrea Riseborough in a Loewe plaid dress straight off the runway, Photo by Getty Images

For example, Andrea Riseborough wearing a long plaid dress by Loewe that literally came off the recent runway in Paris. And Quanna Chasinghorse in a red black & white graphic patterned long dress accessorized with a feathered shoulder cape.

Director Sean Wang & his grandmother’s’ Yi Yan Fuei and Chang Li Hua, the stars of his documentary short film, Năi Nai & Wài Pó, Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Image

One of my favorite moments is when director Sean Wang arrives on the red carpet with his grandmothers, Yi Yan Fuei and Chang Li Hua, the stars of his documentary short film Năi Nai & Wài Pó. Talk about joy!

“Even now fashion is sometimes the place of clichéd beauty, but it’s the cliche of beauty that has to be completely taken away – yes, changed”

– Miuccia Prada.

Mercifully, there were no nipples on display, no nude dresses, and some stars were demurely covered up from head to toe. Not counting John Cena who appeared onstage entirely naked except for a strategically placed envelope carrying the name of the winner.

How refreshing! That said, sheer dressing was one of the notable trends at the after-parties, and it brought out some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. You can always count on Heidi Klum to arrive in some over-the-top, body-revealing monstrosity.

Of course, there was no shortage of razzle-dazzle. Anya Taylor-Joy debuted her Oscar red carpet wearing a strapless sequined ball gown courtesy of Dior Haute Couture. The incredible silver-gray piece featured a voluminous skirt covered in bedazzled petal-shaped flaps — a nod to the iconic Junon dress Christian Dior designed for his Fall/Winter 1949–1950 collection. But I’m always left to wonder why this beauty never cracks a smile..

Michelle Yeoh, who won her first Oscar last year and became the first Asian actress to do so, never disappoints. This time, she chose a goddess-style, cowl-necked, two-tone sequined gown in shades of silver and pewter with a sweeping train by Balenciaga and Cindy Chao Diamond Foliage Earrings.

Carey Mulligan channeled Old Hollywood in custom Balenciaga and Fred Leighton Couture Photo by Lexie Moreland for WWD

Fortunately, the carpet returned to its traditional red this year after going champagne in 2023. It is all the better to highlight black or black and white, which have never looked better. Standouts include Sandra Hüller in Schiaparelli with jutting shoulders, Carey Mulligan in Balenciaga, and Greta Lee in Loewe. I love the deep white pockets. If Ms. Lee had been nominated and won an Oscar, she could have carried the statue away in one of those pockets!

But perhaps my favorite is 92-year-old Rita Moreno, a vision in noir wearing Badgley Mischka, accessorized with long black opera gloves and pitch-black hair to match. What attitude!

Greta Lee in Loewe Photo by Lexie Moreland for WWD

Of course, red is a neutral that goes with everything. It also adds a bit of edge to pastels. Ariana Grande seemingly nodded to her role as the good witch in the forthcoming movie “Wicked” with her pink Giambattista Valli Haute Couture gown that featured a trailing train and pillowy waist attachments that threatened to gobble her up. What would the Oscars be without those over-the-top moments?

And how could you not love Da’Vine Joy Randolph, dressed in pale blue Louis Vuitton and exuding unbridled elation? “I always wanted to be different. Now I realize I need to be myself,” said Randolph, who won the best supporting actress statuette Sunday for her role as Mary Lamb in Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers.

Here’s what I don’t understand: If you are a brand dressing anyone at the Oscars, let alone one of the two actresses favored to win, wouldn’t you reinforce your fastener? I am of course referring to the Emma Stone wardrobe malfunction possibly incurred while singing and dancing along to Ryan Gosling’s rousing performance of “I Am Ken.” Certainly a dress of this high level should be able to withstand a little “Kenergy” or was Emma supposed to remain planted in her seat and barely breathe?

– Laurel Marcus

Among last night’s fashion disappointments was Zendaya, who usually wows on the red carpet. Her Armani Prive gown was charming, elegant, etc., but a bit static and lacking in personality; it left me a bit cold. Actress, writer, producer, entrepreneur, and activist Erika Rose Alexander’s Christian Siriano was just plain horrible.

Emily Blunt in Schiaparelli & John Krasinski in matching tuxedo – Photo by John Shearer Wire Image

I didn’t like Emily Blunt’s Schiaparelli dress with its trompe l’oeil underpants. She has looked so much better. Emily and hubby John Krasinski look like they should be standing on top of a wedding cake for the second year in a row.

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Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

1 Comment
  1. I was so glad to see Andrea Riseborough pictured first in your article. I she immediately caught my eye as she stood out among the others.

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