the good, the bad and the fugly: oscar fashion 2009

first, a little confession:  i’m actually writing this before the actual awards show has even started.  as a style writer, for me, the awards are beyond secondary – it’s all about the pre-game red-carpet festivities.  while the filmgoer in me is rooting loudly for kate winslet and sean penn to win (update:  they did!), the fashion critic in me really cares only about the looks strolling down the red carpet.

this year’s fashions provided much less fodder for complaint than in years past.  there were some really amazing looks, and only a handful that caused my inner fashion police siren to start screaming.  the vast majority of the looks were understated and classic – a nod, i’m sure, to the drama in the economy.  fortunately, a few stunning stars took it upon themselves to remind us of what we love about hollywood:  the escapsim and glamour.  

picture-41      sjp

my favorite look of the evening was kate winslet, a perennial favorite of mine.  she never fails to deliver hollywood glamour in spades, and tonight was no exception.  her stunning gunmetal gown, by yves saint laurent, boasted an asymmetrical one-shouldered bodice, crisp belting at the waist, and then dripped drama with a delicate and detailed black lace overlay.  i loved that she let the dress speak for itself – her only jewelry was a pair of classic drop earrings and a diamond bangle.

sarah jessica parker’s gown ran a very close second in my book.  her gown, by dior haute couture, was everything we’d expect from this fashion icon.  referring to the color of her gown as “barely mint,” parker simply radiated style and stardom.  the gold accents in the fabric, that fantastic belt, and the extravagant, floaty ball skirt were a perfect combination.  in a perfect world, i’d have covered her decolletage a bit more, but…

other winners in my book:  amy adams took the prize for best accessory, with her stunning fred leighton choker, and marisa tomei‘s gown was museum-worthy in its gorgeous origami detailing (though i didn’t love how she carried it off).  and i loved the subtle detail on taraji p. henson‘s gown – it was the perfect blend of elegance and drama.

freida-pinto      jessica-biel

of course, there’s nothing like a night of glitz and glamour to bring out the cattiness in fashion critics everywhere…present company included.  i freely admit i used to feel so badly for the stars who end up battered and bruised in the hindsight commentary from the fashion police.  but the more i’ve learned about this incredible industry, the more i realize that with all of the hours of planning, shopping, prepping and primping that go into putting a star on the red carpet, there’s just no excuse for the worst of the worst.

i was so excited to see what freida pinto would do with her oscar look – her lovely skin tone makes her an ideal candidate for bold, bright color, and showing off a little skin.  sadly, while the color was there, the skin wasn’t…and the asymmetrical bodice just didn’t work for me.  the whole thing was made worse by a single long sleeve made entirely of lace….just far too dowdy and old-fashioned for her hip, sexy vibe.

jessica biel’s was another look that really disappointed me.  with a figure like hers, the possibilities are endless.  so, unless she’s hiding a baby bump, there was little to explain away the gratuitous draping on the front of her gown.  but the real crime was her footwear – a black closed-toe pump with a cream column gown?  i would have loved to see a metallic shoe, and open-toe seems so obvious…i just have no idea what she was thinking.  add on a very lackluster half-up hairstyle, and the look just fell flat.

as for other misses, i wasn’t thrilled about miley cyrus‘ over-the-top style, which just seemed to completely overpower her.  ditto for beyonce‘s look, which i wanted to love at first glance.  but it’s no small feat to overpower someone like her (not to mention the fact that the gown was completely unflattering, adding at least a couple of hours to her hourglass figure).  and then there was mickey rourke…but really, i think the photo just speaks for itself.  just as well, as i was left speechless.  

ultimately, this just wasn’t a year for shock and drama at the oscars.  but if you’re looking for trends to take to the bank, there was clear evidence that classic glamour is back, statement jewelry can make even a lackluster gown fabulous, and when in doubt – a belt provides instant structure and style to nearly any ensemble.  nothing we didn’t know before…but sometimes, a little validation is all you need.

*all photos courtesy AP and

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4 comments on “the good, the bad and the fugly: oscar fashion 2009

  1. Meagan

    I just can’t get with the mermaid look that Beyonce, Vanessa Hudgens, et al. were sporting. To me it just looks restrictive, the kind of outfit for a doll on a jewelry box that spins around and around without having to walk!

    Miley’s dress was GORGEOUS (well, I thought so at least). Perhaps she’s just too short to carry it off? I don’t know–she seemed to be melting into the floor a bit.

  2. jessie

    Did anyone else notice that when Sarah Jessica presented that her dress was see through when she walked? She had on very large panties, like when her skirt blew up on SATC, I could not decide if this was on purpose. She doesn’t stike me as an accidental panty shower.

  3. shoppingsmycardio Post author

    meagan – i’m with you, the mermaid look is just really hard to pull off unless your figure is stick straight…and it seemed that the women who chose to sport it were more hourglass to begin with, which is just a bad idea. as for miley, i loved the dress too – i thought the same thing about it that i thought about marisa tomei’s: amazing, but wrong for the person wearing it. you need to be really bold to wear something like that, and i just don’t think a 16-year-old disney star is “bold” 🙂

    jess – i totally saw that too! but i rewound and checked again…they weren’t panties, it was a built-in miniskirt. so, the effect was intended. i’m not sure i loved that feature, but at least you know now that she wasn’t flashing the world!

  4. Fashion

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