(c) 2014, The Washington Post.

(c) 2014, The Washington Post.

The competition for this year's major categories at the 86th Academy Awards has been discussed and dissected for weeks, but the red carpet felt like a landslide before it was rolled out Sunday.

Newcomer Lupita Nyong'o continues to be the darling of awards season, extending her extraordinary performance in "12 Years a Slave" into an equally acclaimed sartorial showing. Her ice blue custom Prada gown was a glorious cap to an impressive run.

"It's a blue that reminds me of Nairobi," the best supporting actress nominee told E!'s Ryan Seacrest. "I wanted to have a little bit of home."

The dress also conjured memories of some of the best of Oscars past, including Grace Kelly's remarkable creation by costume designer Edith Head for her best actress win in 1955 for "The Country Girl."

The 18-karat gold and diamond Fred Leighton headband Nyong'o wore emphasized the fairy-tale quality of the look, fitting her near-overnight ascension to fame, and a departure from her minimalist Ralph Lauren caped gown at the Golden Globes.

Her fellow fashion front-runner, Jennifer Lawrence, chose a red Christian Dior couture gown with mini peplum details floating effortlessly above her hips. It was as if the two young women swapped aesthetics for the evening: Nyong'o embracing a princess look and Lawrence moving away from the regal, voluminous gown she wore last year, though keeping the necklace that draped lightly down her back.

Amy Adams's form-fitting Gucci featured a similarly small peplum, giving the navy gown a slight curve. Peplums have been a trend on the red carpet for the past few seasons, including Charlize Theron's gorgeous white Christian Dior version last year. This year, the smaller silhouette gives the peplum a fresh feel. Adams also ditched the plunging necklines she favored for earlier awards shows, which felt directly inspired from her role in "American Hustle."

Pale pinks, off-whites and beiges dominated the rest of the pack. Actress Kristen Bell chose a pale gray, mermaid-style Roberto Cavalli.

"It was my first choice, I put it on and knew immediately," Bell said. I "felt a 'Frozen' vibe and that is why I'm here and celebrating it."

The Oscar-winning animated feature "Frozen" seems like an unlikely inspiration for fashion, but cool, white hues were an unexpected pattern in suiting.

Seacrest led the pack in a custard-colored Burberry jacket with black bowtie. Jared Leto adorned his white Saint Laurent jacket with a deep red bowtie and pocket square. Matthew McConaughey, arriving with his wife Camila Alves in a baby pink Gabriela Cadena gown and cape, buttoned his white Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo jacket over a black vest.

Cate Blanchett, a perennial favorite of fashion followers, wore a nude Armani Prive that blended impeccably with her skin and wavy locks. Jessica Biel, a presenter for the evening, also radiated in a neutral metallic Chanel couture column. While flattering, the blanched color palette only accentuated the status of Lawrence and Nyong'o as fashion standouts.