Stars went strapless at the Oscars – except for Hilary Swank.
She made one of the boldest fashion statements, wearing a high-neck, sapphire-blue gown with long sleeves by Guy Laroche that hugged all her curves. She did show some skin, though: The back was completely bare.
“I knew that it would be a little chilly out today,” said Swank outside the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. She added: “I thought it was really beautiful.”
“She looked very ’40s glamour – old-time Hollywood,” described her makeup artist, Scott Andrew, who said he kept her look simple with mauve eye shadow and dark plum eyeliner and lots of mascara.
TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey also looked stunning – and slim – in a gold hand-embroidered off-the-shoulder gown with a tiered skirt by Vera Wang. She wore her hair in loose curls, like supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who walked the red carpet with boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio in a white strapless gown with gold embroidery and an empire waist.
Nicole Kidman, usually a fashion favourite, was not seen at the awards ceremony.
Gwyneth Paltrow, in a nude silk and cotton voile corset dress by friend Stella McCartney, was one of the many stars who chose a natural, soft look.
Laura Linney had a bit of a funky edge. Her taupe strapless gown by J Mendel had diagonal exposed seams, a frayed edge at the top and tiers of frayed fabric at the hem – and she wore it with a rope of pearls, holding a disc, knotted at her neck.
“You put them on and you sort of know. It’s profoundly comfortable,” Linney said.
Comfort was another popular theme. Natalie Portman said her tulle gathered gown with a deep V and pearl-adorned double waistbands was “really classic, elegant – and it’s comfortable”.
Penelope Cruz said she admired the work of Oscar de la Renta, the designer of her yellow strapless gown with an oversized bow at the back hem. “It’s beautiful and comfortable.”
Sophisticated starlet Emmy Rossum wore a princess ruby-and-diamond Harry Winston necklace and matching drop earrings and a crimson-red Ralph Lauren gown, which she described as the colour of a 1945 Bordeaux wine. “I heard that’s a good year,” said the 18-year-old.
Renee Zellweger again looked to designer Carolina Herrera. She wore a raspberry strapless gown with ivory tulle trim. Sandra Oh, also in red, looked glamorous in a Michael Kors ballgown.
Melanie Griffith said husband Antonio Banderas had the final word on her ombre celadon pleated silk chiffon gown with embroidery by Versace that she accessorised with long diamond drop earrings by Harry Winston.
Versace also dressed Virginia Madsen in a blue strapless corset gown with a black chiffon overlay and Halle Berry in an iridescent taupe silk chiffon one-shoulder gown with embroidered skirt. “It’s the one that caught my eye this year,” Berry said.
Blue and yellow were both popular colours. Kate Winslet wore a periwinkle blue gown by Badgley Mischka with a beaded inset down the front of the bodice and Neil Lane diamonds added to the sheer straps. Salma Hayek said that Prada “did such a good job” on her custom-made midnight blue dress with black beading and bows on the bodice.
Johnny Depp showed up in a blue tuxedo with black lapels. His companion, Vanessa Paradis, wore a Chanel long black tulle dress with silver applique. Meanwhile, some male stars, including Spike Lee, wore white tuxedos with black shirts and ties.
Cate Blanchett said picking her one-shoulder pale yellow silk taffeta gown with train and satin burgundy bow sash was easy. “Valentino made it for me. I just loved it,” she said.
Several celebrities had personal fittings with designers and wore custom clothes. Giorgio Armani helped Clive Owen put on his suit. “It’s one of the highlights of this experience.”
Armani also did Annette Bening’s black jersey, long-sleeve gown with a portrait neckline from his new couture collection. The fitted bodice led into an hourglass silhouette, ending with a fishtail train.
Scarlett Johansson also chose black. She said she “felt like a princess” in her architectural Roland Mouret gown and Fred Leighton 19th-century diamond star tiara, but told Star Jones Reynolds on the red carpet that she could barely breathe.
Beyonce, who had several costume changes for the awards show, did the red carpet in a black silk velvet strapless gown by Versace.
Fashion commentator Tom Julian said Beyonce, Hayek and Charlize Theron, who wore a strapless Dior seafoam gown with a skirt made of tiers of tulle, were among the best dressed.
Overall, Julian said, the look was sophisticated and simple with rich, luxurious fabrics making more of a statement than glitzy jewels.