Fashion in low LIGHT at awards

HOLLYWOOD - The movie industry must have woken up from the writers' strike with a rotten hangover, unable to even think about frivolous things like parties and frocks. It was such a buzz kill that quite a few of the actors on the red carpet at the Academy Awards looked as if they either couldn't be bothered with fashion this year, or had dressed in the dark on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

HOLLYWOOD - The movie industry must have woken up from the writers' strike with a rotten hangover, unable to even think about frivolous things like parties and frocks. It was such a buzz kill that quite a few of the actors on the red carpet at the Academy Awards looked as if they either couldn't be bothered with fashion this year, or had dressed in the dark on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

The hits were few and the misses seemed to be less a result of actresses who dare to risk the wrath of the fashion police than red carpet malaise. Tilda Swinton led the charge in a shapeless black bolt of fabric.

"I think a lot of people are being safe," Kimora Lee Simmons, usually a fashion extrovert, said. "Safe to me reads like boring."

There seemed to be only two choices - wear red and be seriously appropriate or wear black and be appropriately serious.

The first camp belonged to Katherine Heigl in a one-shoulder dress, Ruby Dee in a satin belted dress and jacket, Miley Cyrus in suitably youthful Valentino and Anne Hathaway in a stunner with a sash of red rosettes. The serious crowd included Amy Ryan in a navy toga and Jennifer Garner in embroidered silk taffeta. Few women wore big jewels, except for those dressed in black, but then they had to try harder just to be noticed.

Nevertheless, shown against a backdrop of gray clouds, the black dresses looked so similar that it hardly seemed worth checking the labels. That wasn't the case for two women who wore purple: Cate Blanchett looked radiant in a satin gown with a plunging neckline that was accented with green beads, matching her earrings; and Jessica Alba wore a draped gown that was tipped with a bit of froth.

There were also some shocking moments, the kind of loopy flubs that modern advancements in the profession of fashion styling had all but done away with years ago.

Swinton will most likely wake up with a few bruises for her dress, and Marion Cotillard wore a mermaid gown that was unsubtly printed with fish scales.

But the biggest faux pas tended to come from the other side of the hedgerows edging the carpet, where the commentators were climbing over one another to fawn and gawk and gently probe. On ABC, George Pennacchio seemed overwhelmed by his encounter with Heidi Klum, in a red dress with a picture-frame neckline and a woodlike bun of hair on her head.

On E, Ryan Seacrest grilled Amy Adams, looking quite beautiful in a strapless dress that set off her pale skin and red hair.

He asked about the ephemeral gold mesh bag hanging from a chain interwoven between her fingers, and found it was just for show. - New York Times

X