In the piñata that is Oscars night, it’s not till the party gets started that you find out what is truly happening. When things get wild is when it all comes tumbling out. This feels particularly true if you watch the ceremony on UK time, when the juicy stuff happens well after any sensible Sunday-night bedtime. The film that isn’t supposed to be win best picture winning best picture. Gaga and Cooper turning their Shallow performance into a steamy serenade. Billy Porter debuting the gown-cedo (tux from the waist up, dress from the waist down). Lady Gaga’s 128.54 carat Tiffany diamond. Melissa McCarthy spoofing The Favourite in a dalmation cape covered with stuffed bunnies.
This year, Oscar fashion happened in a glitter shower of pink, a confetti explosion of fuschia froth. Pink dominated early proceedings on the red carpet – and thanks to Julia Roberts’ presenting gig, it closed the night too. But there was nothing bashful or blushing about this pink. It was not Gwyneth Paltrow’s sobbing-in-Ralph Lauren, prom-queen pink. This was the pink of Villanelle, the tulle-wearing psychopath from Killing Eve. It was the pink of Nancy Pelosi, presiding over last month’s group portrait of Democratic committee chairmen in a raspberry trouser suit.
Nancy Pelosi holds the gavel; Jodie Comer as Villanelle in Killing Eve.
Gemma Chan looked epic in a high-necked Valentino gown that she wore just as it was shown on the Paris haute couture catwalk last month, with an off-centre part and a neat up-do. In parachute-light silk, no corsetry required, she looked airily relaxed on the red carpet, one hand in her pocket. This being pink’s night meant a high profile for the house of Schiaparelli, whose founder Elsa invented “shocking pink” as a fashion colour. Schiaparelli, now helmed by designer Bertrand Guyon, dressed actors Linda Cardellini and Helen Mirren. Cardellini wore a headturner of cascading Shocking ruffles, cinched in a giant bow. Mirren’s gown, multi-toned layers of subtly different sunset shades, was a love poem to pink.
Helen Mirren arrives in a multi-toned pink gown; Julia Roberts presents the Best Picture award.
This is not pink for princesses but pink for queens – in the modern, sassy, Rihanna sense of the word. Gender roles have shifted a little, finally, at the Oscars. (In that respect, the night’s key quote came from Olivia Colman, collecting her Oscar, womanfully fighting back tears, pointing to her husband and saying “he’s going to cry – I’m not”.) Frances McDormand, who is at least seven million times too cool for predictable cookie-cutter red carpet choices, wore a pink gown from the same Valentino collection as Chan’s to present the best actress Oscar to Colman, and teamed it with Birkenstocks. Maya Rudolph also wore Valentino pink, accessorised with the Paddington Bear hard-stare she has perfected for the red carpet. Angela Bassett, in Reem Acra with the sugar hit of a Quality Street fudge, and Kiki Layne, in ballet-slipper Versace, both wore their pink long and sculptural. The new generation of pink tulle dresses have a precise, almost spiky silhouette. If you were to get too close to Kacey Musgraves in Giambattista Valli, the fanned edges look like they might give you a paper cut.
Clockwise from top left: Maya Rudolph, Angela Bassett, KiKi Layne and Kacey Musgraves.
The Oscars are about glamour, not fashion. You can tell that by the relatively slight impact felt on the night by the death of Karl Lagerfeld – the only story in the fashion industry this week. Lisa Bonet and husband Jason Momoa made a double tribute to Lagerfeld, with Bonet in Chanel and Momoa in Fendi, both from the designer’s last collections; Tessa Thompson wore an elegant, strapless black Chanel gown. But Chanel did not dominate. Lady Gaga, who was fashion’s great hope for an injection of avant-garde on to the red carpet, chose instead to headline her look with a $30m Tiffany necklace previously worn by Audrey Hepburn in 1961, which upstaged both her Alexander McQueen gown and her softscoop-vanilla updo, and left no one in any doubt that to her this night was about Hollywood dreams rather than catwalk ones. Rachel Weisz was the winner of fashion hearts and minds, in a Givenchy pillarbox gown with red latex cape, set off by an austere-chic Alice band.
Lisa Bonet and Jason Momoa; Rachel Weisz.
British brand Accessorize analysed 40 years of Oscar dresses and revealed, last week, that the luckiest colour for best actress nominees was gold – 43% of nominees who chose gold went on to win their gong. Glenn Close, who lost out for the seventh time this year, has reason to feel shortchanged, since her gold Carolina Herrera dress – which weighed more than 18kg – did not deliver. Next year, it could be time to think pink.