In what were quite possibly the most polar-opposite red-carpet reviews of the year, Vogue editor André Leon Talley praised last night’s Oscar fashion for its “sensational sweep of elegant yet hot dresses,” while Times fashion critic Eric Wilson sniffed that "many women were wearing dresses that were, well, as plain and flat as the carpet beneath their feet."
Among the trends that rustled down the red carpet were nude and neutral-colored gowns with accents of feather and tulle. Talley couldn’t get enough of the trend, as worn by Halle Berry, Hillary Swank, and Hailee Steinfeld (one of his “best-dressed ladies” of the evening, along with Michelle Williams in a “superb column” by Chanel). Wilson, on the other hand, called Williams’s frock a “blahsy white T-shirt dress covered in white beading.”
He was equally unimpressed by what little glitz he did see:
There was a bit of a sparkle trend happening, to the point that some of the gowns looked like they might be more appropriate for competitive ice skating, like Mandy Moore’s gold beaded dress with an illusion neckline, Monique Lhuillier, or Hilary Swank in silver sequins and frothy feathers from Gucci.”
Another trend that made almost as many appearances as Colin Firth's face was the color red. While Talley applauded Jennifer Lawrence for “looking like the 20-year-old star that she is” in a simple Calvin Klein creation and Sandra Bullock for her “to die for” Vera Wang strapless gown (both in the popular hue), Wilson was much less enthused by the two stars’ picks. He called Lawrence's dress a “tomato-red Calvin Klein design that looked about as complicated as a one-piece bathing suit” and thought that Bullock “looked a little dated."
Other disagreements on the fashion front came by way of Amy Adams (Talley: hit; Wilson: miss) and Gwyneth Paltrow (more of the same). The two critics were on the same page with a few things, though: Talley disapproved of Nicole Kidman's Dior ensemble, noting that her red shoes looked "random"; Wilson thought the dress "looked like the front of a train coming down the red carpet. Look out!" Mila Kunis’s lavender Elie Saab was perhaps too sexy, per both critics, and Natalie Portman's Rodarte dress looked, well, good. For Talley that meant "elegant," and for Wilson, "great" — though it's hard to say exactly how "great" when his lasting impression of Portman was that he "kind of wanted her to work that bump like Snooki does." This is probably not what the Oscar winner was going for, but hey — a half-compliment from Wilson last night was almost as hard to come by as an Oscar itself.