My first reaction to the 2012 Oscar modes (that's what a big dressy number was called in my day) was not to bother. This year I just didn't feel physically sick at any point in scrolling along the Red Carpet and really loved some of the dresses. Then I realised how much the hairdo contributes to the YES/MAYBE/ SORRY DEAR/BE OFF WITH YOU ratings.
Here are my winners for getting it right top to toe:
Gwyneth Paltro, perfect ivory column inches in Tom Ford and she's axed her folk singer's middle parting, hallelujah. Commendable restraint in focusing her jewellery at the bottom of one arm.
Ah, Penelope Cruz looking fabulously 50s in the sort of dress my mother didn't quite wear, I wish she
had. Love the MGM Studios hair style and the soft blue chiffon used to its very best effect. Some may be disappointed that she's not channelling primal sex here but the look produces in me a low groan of envy and delight.
More vintage glamour from Milla Jovovic in Elie Saab. Not just soignée but smouldering.
This is just one of those magnificent surprises that stops you in your tracks. Emma Stone, pitch perfect
in fluid Giambattista Valli. Big retro halter neckline shows off lovely shoulders, jawline, eyeliner, eyebrows. Titian hair a non-clash clash with cherry red. Well-judged jewellery.
[Come on, that's enough! Ed.]
This Louis Vuitton is another front runner for the gorgeous vermilion chiffon with the pink clutch, oh oh. The little diamond bow is perfect but I'm just blocking out the defeatist necklace and realising that's what's very slightly annoying. Less is generally more and Michelle Williams gamine hair does cut it. Charmant. But talking French...
Uh oh. I am afraid there's some cognitive dissonance between this relentlessly ingenue hairstyle (or has she just forgotten to take the pins out?) and the concert party diva's gown. Better not go on.. Mais quel dommage, Berenice Bejo dans votre Elie Saab.
Nobody loves a piece of 1950s Christian Dior couture more than I do. But why does Natalie Portman look so high-school prom and prim in this? I think it's the damn hairstyle again - lovely in itself, but had she done a Cruz or a Jovovic she would have looked a million dollars. And that ice. Just looks like she's borrowed Mummy's necklace. All wrong, all wrong. Sorreee.
We're in the Box of Chocolates merchandising category here. Ellie Kemper in Armani and..
And lovely old Meryl Streep doing Ferrero Rocher a good turn. Or is that Terry's All Gold?
Isn't that dress going to fall off her right shoulder sometime soon?
Talking of which. This is one of my favourite colours which suits Missi Pyle's colouring nicely and can only really work in georgette. But the just-out-of-bed hair somehow reinforces the top notes of Sears Catalogue negligée in this odd design by Valentina Delfino. It's something about the last section that gives an expectation of maribou trimmed mules.
Apparently this fabric was made 'without cruelty to silk-worms'. (Is that because it's
Jury's out on the transgressive angel look here. I do get it, particularly the severe hairline and the red lips with the gossamer fabric, but just to be annoying - can anyone say just exactly what's wrong with the bustline? Perhaps it just doesn't fit? That's Rooney Mara in Givenchy.
I can't improve on this being 'the colour of old bras'. I wish I 'd
thought of that but it was Tom + Lorenzo here. Click on them for a really funny tilt at the Red Carpet. Kristen Wiig in J. Mendel being mildly subversive by doing the careless dressing-up box thing. It looks as if it smells of mothballs.
Ouch, there had to be an undisputed booby prize. Does Busy Phillips in Dolce & Gabbana remind anyone else of a parking lot? Worn tarmac and something-reminiscent-of-a-crash-barrier earrings and bracelet. Who chose the shoes at random? Finally I have to agree with Tom + Lorenzo about the bad hair styling.