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She Raises The Barre

With her ballet past (and the help of some designers), Charlize Theron moves gracefully in the award dance.

December 05, 2007|Elizabeth Snead | Special to The Times

THERE'S a reason why Charlize Theron looks so at ease strolling the red carpet at the Oscars. The tall, slender blond studied ballet when she was growing up on a farm in South Africa and later joined the Joffrey Ballet in New York. And if it hadn't been for a bum knee, she might have stayed there.

But then, as the story goes, her mother bought her a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. She was soon walking red carpets in ridiculously short order. She attended her first Academy Awards in 2000, pulling off an impressive version of Old Hollywood Glamour with rolled waves and a '40s-style Vera Wang peach low-back halter gown accessorized with Fred Leighton diamond clips on the straps.

She earned her first Oscar nod -- and first win -- in 2004 for portraying serial killer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster." The role required her to gain 30 pounds, which, incredibly, she'd jettisoned before the award ceremony. She showed off her sleek new shape in an almost nude beaded Gucci gown (designed by Tom Ford) accessorized with Chopard's Shooting Star earrings and a Lana Marks clutch.

In 2005, Theron, now the contracted face of Dior's fragrance "J'adore," selected a Dior couture gown by John Galliano, which took a reported 600 hours to make from 300 yards of pale blue satin organza and silk tulle.

In 2006, Theron was nominated for her role as a miner in "North Country" and, again, she chose a Dior dress by Galliano -- a forest green satin ball gown with an enormous bow on one shoulder. The Oscar buzz is loud for her role in this year's "In the Valley of Elah" as a green police detective who helps a career officer (Tommy Lee Jones) find his son, missing since his return from Iraq.

If she attends the 2008 Oscars, will Theron again wear Dior? Signs point to yes. After all, she was shopping, um, sitting in the front row -- appropriately attired in devastatingly decadent Dior -- at Galliano's July fashion show in Paris.


Elizabeth Snead writes the Dish Rag blog at

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