Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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© Copyright 2004





In Fashion…The Red Carpet style

Movie stars are the epitome of fashion. Often, their red carpet style statements eclipse their on-screen triumphs and tragedies. A classic example of this is the Oscar night at Los Angeles’ Kodak Theatre, where film actresses dress literally to kill. They captivate you with colour, using their evening gowns as sheer satin of seduction. If there are yards of silk and velvet, there are, as well, inches of skin revelling in the admiration of male gaze, and frozen on frame for posterity. The white envelope and the secret that it contains are treated as embellishments to the couture wear that is flaunted.

For a few years now, photographers who live by what stars say through their dresses have been complaining that they do not see enough of dare. Actresses have been playing far too safe for pictures to stun and sell. Not this year, at the Academy Awards on Sunday, February 25 2007.

Cate Blanchett (remember her in “Babel”, with seven Oscar nominations, and Shekhar Kapur’s “Elizabeth”) walked on the red carpet in a gorgeous Swarovski crystal mesh outfit.

Penelope Cruz
With a Best Actress nod for “Volver” (To Return) under her arm, Spanish sex symbol Penelope Cruz (she now wants to pair with our King Khan) sashayed in a strapless blush colour Versace with an intricately swirled bodice that appeared to grow into a huge skirt.

Nicole Kidman (whose “Moulin Rouge” was a hit in India) and Gwyneth Paltrow (“Shakespeare in Love”) stepped in fabulous fashion. Gwyneth in Zac Posen's apricot spider-web tulle-and-chiffon gown looked alluring. Nicole seemed to herald spring and sunshine with a bold choice of bright red Balenciaga halter costume with an oversized bow at the neck.

Eye-catching hues came from Reese Witherspoon's strap-free Nina Ricci in deep purple, and Naomi Watts' Escada attire in smashing yellow with a sapphire blue sash.

“The Queen”, which Helen Mirren played to win the Best Actress statuette, looked as regal and composed as the British monarch, Elizabeth, in a champagne-colored Christian Lacroix gown with gold-leaf embroidery on the skirt. She told the media that “the dress chose me. It makes me feel comfortable. I don't feel like I'm trying to be something I'm not."

Jennifer Hudson (winner of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as a
Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman
soul singer in “Dreamgirls”) arrived at the theatre in a brown outfit with a metallic python bolero by Oscar de la Renta.

This year’s Oscar ceremony was marked by extravagant designs that included fancy fabrics, feathers and stones. For instance, Jennifer Lopez’s lilac Marchesa gown had antique jewels around the neckline. It looked as if she was wearing a chain. Lopez commented: “It makes me feel glamorous, chic and sexy”.

Knowles Beyonce (also staring in “Dreamgirls”) also had a captivating neckline on a strapless, light green Armani dress.

Ten-year-old Abigail Breslin (with a supporting nom for her role in “Little Miss Sunshine”) wore pink decked with flowers. Kate Winslet wore Valentino. Anne Hathaway too.

But, where were the disasters? Some years ago, we remember Bjork looking deliciously funny as a swan with an egg. Celine Dion wore a dinner-jacket look-alike that appeared to have been worn backwards. And what about Demi Moore’s black lycra bike shorts, and Cher in an equally scandalous gear.

This year, Cameron Diaz took the sole credit for outrage. She seemed to have “starched and haphazardly pinned her damask bedsheets into an angular, toothpaste-white disaster”, to quote one write-up.

Yet, what is style without scandal. Often, some celebrities dress to shock. So what if what they wear hurts the eye, as long as they do not blend with the crowd. For a star, being noticed is what counts, even if that means turning up in peacock feathers or tiger skin!

(Webposted February 27 2007)