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The Oscars | FASHION

Champagne dreams

Movie sirens are draped in vintage and couture gowns in the style of Hollywood's golden age. Tom Ford, Chanel, Armani and even Givenchy put their signatures on icily elegant statements for the stars arriving at Kodak Theatre, although other women offer the contrast of bright colors. The men, however, forgo bow ties with their tuxes.

March 01, 2004|Heather John | Times Staff Writer

The sun was shining but the fashion was frosty. It was Old Hollywood glamour out en masse, in icy white diamonds, ivory and champagne beaded gowns, and loosely curled blond locks.

Charlize Theron was statuesque in a backless, beaded nude chiffon Gucci gown, designed for her by Tom Ford, who presented his final collection last week in Milan. "I knew I wanted to wear one last dress of his," Theron said. Naomi Watts was equally glamorous in a golden silk chiffon Swarovski crystal-encrusted Versace gown.

Patricia Clarkson also went nude, in Bill Blass with crystal beading, designed by Michael Vollbracht. Julia Roberts was stunning in champagne satin Armani and a new blond 'do, which she said was "just for work."

Silvery hues had a chilly effect, particularly for some of the paler actresses. Presenter Julianne Moore opted for a silver embroidered Versace gown with a plunging neckline. Nicole Kidman built her look around a rare natural-green diamond Bulgari necklace designed by L'Wren Scott. Her celadon Chanel couture gown with crystal embroidery was almost an accessory to the jewels.

Samantha Morton smoldered in a smoky gray, full-skirted vintage couture gown from Givenchy's first collection in 1951. Singer Annie Lennox wore a gleaming ombre-satin dress in palest blue.

Renee Zellweger shone brightly in vintage Cartier diamonds and a white satin strapless Carolina Herrera with a dramatic two-tiered, geometric train. French singer -- and Johnny Depp arm candy -- Vanessa Paradis wore a creamy long-sleeved vintage Chanel haute couture crepe gown with silver beading. Among the few wearing necklaces, Angelina Jolie sparkled in the 85-carat diamond "Athena" design from H. Stern.

But not everyone eschewed color. Presenter Catherine Zeta-Jones went regal with a red silk chiffon Versace tank gown that glittered with crystals. Presenter Jennifer Garner, looking feminine with a softly glowing bronzed face, chose a charming coppery vintage Valentino gown with a taffeta train.

Scarlett Johansson looked like Lana Turner in a curvy, emerald green gown from Alberta Ferretti, and platinum curls. A very pregnant Marcia Gay Harden said she felt "like a queen" in her rich violet Badgley Mischka, a draped gown with antique crystal detailing on the bodice. Jamie Lee Curtis, in a turquoise Monique Lhuillier column gown, joked, "I'm breaking every fashion rule in one fell swoop."

But while Curtis' choice of color paid off, not everyone's red-carpet risk was so successful. Uma Thurman's peasant princess, in so many layers of fabric and puffed sleeves, looked as though she'd wandered off the set of "The Lord of the Rings." Diane Keaton, for her part, in a custom Ralph Lauren morning tuxedo, looked as if she'd wandered off the set of "Annie Hall."

Playing it safe in darker hues, Sofia Coppola wore a plum satin dress by friend Marc Jacobs, and Susan Sarandon gave another nod to Tom Ford, in a tiered and shredded black Gucci dress with cap sleeves.

Men also played it safe, in classic tuxedos with neckties. Jude Law, one of the few in a bow tie, echoed Cary Grant flair in a classic midnight blue Dunhill tuxedo. "It's very old-fashioned to wear midnight blue, so I went with tradition," Law said.

In the end, it's hard to go wrong with Old Hollywood glitz, and this year's screen sirens did not disappoint.

*

'Nicole was given M&M's by the BBC and she

just dropped us. Next year we'll bring M&M's.'

Joan Rivers, competing for the attention of Nicole Kidman on the crowded red carpet

*

'It's far too bright and far too cold to be walking

around half naked and wearing jewels.'

Susan Sarandon, on the ambivalent thrill of the red carpet

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