c.2014 New York Times News Service
c.2014 New York Times News Service
“They sent over a raincoat yesterday!” E! host Ryan Seacrest said, referring to the luxury London house Burberry, which had also furnished his “custard cream” (a more luscious way of saying off-white) tuxedo. But that particular branding opportunity — yes, some still exist — was not to materialize on the red carpet, nor, alas, would there be any Cherbourg-esque display of colorful umbrellas. The sky above the Hollywood & Highland Center had efficiently cleared Sunday, and the actresses would be free to bare their backs, breasts, shoulders and midriffs, if not yet their souls.
Many of them also submitted to the 360-degree camera “powered” by Vine, the social-media video app, whose unsparing scrutiny brought to mind a session in an airport full-body scanner. Amy Adams arrived apparently armored for such an experience in a deep navy opaque Gucci column with four symmetrical flaps that appeared more protective than decorative: It seemed a correction of sorts to all the freewheeling late-disco cleavage she has displayed this season while promoting her role in “American Hustle.” “It felt like me,” she said of the outfit, a wan but unmistakable nose-thumbing to the stylist juggernaut.
This time it was Lupita Nyong’o, a star of “12 Years a Slave” and the fashion industry’s sudden darling, who chose a gasp-inducing neckline: Almost to the navel, this daring was counteracted by the Prada dress’ demure pale-blue pleated chiffon. (“The blue that reminds me of Nairobi,” Nyong’o said.) Despite the childish thin, sparkly headband she wore with it, this was possibly the best Hollywood moment for the house since Uma Thurman emerged in pale lilac almost 20 years ago.
Sandra Bullock, the star of “Gravity,” also wore blue — a deep midnight, appropriately astronomical shade — though, like her character, the gown, from Alexander McQueen, could have used more of an anchor around her poitrine (even an invisible one, like Charlize Theron’s straps) before it fell into fathomless, somewhat shower curtainlike folds.
Probably anticipating the competitive rush of clavicles, Naomi Watts was covered up in cap-sleeved, heavily encrusted white Calvin Klein that, true to the label’s heritage, bore some resemblance to an overgrown T-shirt. She didn’t look relaxed, though, and she had plenty of company. (More than a few bejeweled and varnished fingers trembled visibly during their cruel march down E!’s Mani Cam. What’s next, administering pop-up polygraphs when someone says, “It’s an honor just to be nominated”?) Sally Hawkins ducked from underneath hanks of hair — all but apologizing, adorably, for her heavily embroidered Valentino. “Thank you for speaking to me,” she said, like a scullery maid invited to the ball. Cate Blanchett seemed somewhat stiff in an uncharacteristically busy Armani Privé gown of nude mesh and floppy sequins that, if chopped above the knee, would have at least been a satisfying figure skating outfit.
Jennifer Lawrence, though, was a bit too relaxed, and it’s beginning to seem like a shtick, maybe for offsetting the potentially audience-alienating grandeur of her Dior contract? Her bright-red gown looked fine, but maybe next time she should request less skirt volume, lest it seem like she’s clad in a very expensive potato sack. The peplums, too, were inherently matronly. They worked less well on an ingénue than on a midcareer Julia Roberts, who looked positively giddy in her black lace-trimmed Givenchy gown, having escaped from the unfortunate Dolce & Gabbana dress that at the Golden Globes made her look as if she had swallowed Sharon Stone in her 1998 Gap shirt.
But for the ultimate in comfort, there was the all-too-occasional ahhh of pants — Liza Minnelli in cobalt satin pajamas, accessorized with (was this a pun?) a blue streak; and the ceremony’s host, Ellen DeGeneres, looking natty in a series of Saint Laurent tuxedos for which she thanked the designer, Hedi Slimane, by first name. They knew not to buckle on belts. It was going to be a long night.