My Favorite Looks from the Academy Awards 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The stars came out in full force for the annual fête we plebians know as the Academy Awards. As anticipated as it was that former host Billy Crystal was back to host this year's show after the seriously flawed attempt (and the great on stage fashion show that was Anne Hathaway) last year, I felt that there was a lot of "lack" happening all over the place at the show this year. Too much amped-up hype that lead to real time lacklusterism.
Even on the Red Carpet, that hallowed walkway leading into the theater, proved that this year there was a style confusion and a sense of boredom. There was very little in the way of clear trends being presented, as many of the gowns chosen proved: some stars wore color while others steered clear of it, there was very little sequins or embellishments, jewelry and accessories were sparse or used minimally, gowns were either strapless and sleek or full and sleeved with little variations in between. At least there was the ever present voluminous train on almost every gown, so at least we had that trend to fall back on, or over (the train was overkill, in my opinion).

For me, the gowns that stood out moved away from a sea of bore and into a bit more individual glamour.  They allowed the wearer to convey a bit of self and showed that they had exercised "choice" and overwhelmingly chose "personal style" as the showcase. The standout gowns for me also showed the best example of the "otherness" of the gown: how it lives within its "trend" but is not ruled by it (Esperanza Spalding, Penelope Cruz, Rose Byrne), great use of the ever-important tailoring (Octavia Spencer, Tina Fey), how it excels in pushing boundaries in Red Carpet dressing by making modern strides in new ways (Gwenyth Paltrow, Natalie Portman, Jessica Chastain), and for sheer daring (Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez).

Natalie Portman in vintage Christian Dior
Gwenyth Paltrow in Tom Ford

Angelina Jolie in Atelier Versace

Jennifer Lopez in Zuhair Murad

Octavia Spencer in Tadashi Shoji

Esperanza Spalding in Prophetik

Tina Fey in Carolina Herrera
Rose Byrne in Vivienne Westwood

Penelope Cruz in Armani Prive

Jessica Chastain in Alexander McQueen

And the style party continued afterwards at the post-show parties. Many took more risks and let loose (it is a party after all) where the strict rules of the Red Carpet don't apply. I was surprised to see better choices at the parties than the show itself (Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez), and color was key (Kate Hudson), as well as sequins and embellishments (Kate Bosworth, Lily Collins).
Cameron Diaz in Victoria Beckham

Kate Bosworth in Prabal Gurung

Lily Collins in Monique Lhuillier

Kate Bosworth in vintage Versace

Jennifer Lopez in Zuhair Murad

Next year there will be a whole other show called "At The Party", I'm quite sure. It is, after all, where the real fun style showed up this year. I hope next year some of the more daring stars come back and shake up the style show a bit and interject some panache and humor, or our favorite Oscar regulars show a bit more style evolution and daring in their choices for the Red Carpet as well as the parties.
If not, we will always have Bjork and Cher..!

(all photos via Getty Images,, or except Gwenyth Paltrow via Harper's
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