Such as a bejeweled watch. Penelope Cruz sported a dainty Chopard timepiece encrusted with 5 carats of diamonds to the recent SAG Awards. Marion Cotillard wore a bolder style with diamonds floating inside the watch face to last week's British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards in London. What could be more down to earth than a watch -- even if it costs more than a year's tuition at Stanford?
No one's talking price tags, though. Three years ago, nominee Dolly Parton proudly announced to reporters that her Fred Leighton earrings were worth $1.2 million. That's a no-no these days.
"It used to be chic to say, 'I'm wearing $16 million worth of jewels,' " said publicist Howard Bragman, who specializes in crisis counseling for celebrities. "That's distasteful right now." The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has made occasional changes to its dress codes in deference to political sensitivities. In 1941, with the country mobilized for World War II, attendees were asked to wear dark, semiformal attire. In 1967, hippie staples such as love beads, miniskirts and turtlenecks were banned. "In the '70s, there wasn't such a focus on the clothes and nobody wanted to win an Oscar anyway," film historian Robert Osborne said.
Nowadays, though, the focus on style is intense. "Beyonce's brand is glamour," said hairstylist Kim Kimble, who swept the singer's hair into a ponytail for the Golden Globes, so it wouldn't compete with her 200-carat Lorraine Schwartz diamond necklace. "She has an image to live up to. It's her job."
But glamour's getting a closer inspection with so many pink slips emerging across the country. Andy Lecompte, who styled Jennifer Lopez's tresses for the Globes, scaled back on the drama and went with a simple bun. "She wore that gold dress, and with the economy the way it is, she didn't want to overdo it with jewels or her hair," he said.
Such adjustments may seem almost imperceptible from afar -- Lopez's dress had enough shimmer, after all, to put the rest of her look in the shadows. But in some circles, the effect of Hollywood's "less is more" impulses has been dramatic.
In the last 11 years, evening bag designer Mary Norton has seen her jeweled and feathered accessories carried by celebrities such as Catherine Zeta-Jones and Miley Cyrus. This time, demand is flat. "Overall, it's been a dismal season."
Of course, any glimpse of glamour is ephemeral; it lasts only as long as the red carpet itself. The jewels go back, the dresses get returned and even the elegant chignons fall into disarray. "Everyone knows it's make-believe," stylist George Kotsiopoulos said. "Everything is borrowed."
But with a country in the red, borrowing too much can be considered poor form.
More photos and coverage of the Oscars are available online.