02.23.09 11:12 AM ET
There have been years on the Oscar red carpet where there was an unusual amount of one type of dress – flowing goddess gowns, for example. I, for one, believe this is coincidence and not some kind of consensus reached by the actresses through a daisy chain of phone calls.
“Look, the economy is in the tank and we have decided not to throw our wealth and success in the audiences faces. We’ve decided to wear very little jewelry and somber colors. Are you in?”
This year’s carpet proved my point with a variety of styles from structured to soft, complex to simple, and dark to light. The leading ladies looked the part. In a strapless platinum sheath covered in paiettes by Armani Prive, Anne Hathaway shimmered on the carpet. Angelina Jolie relied on a classic draped black strapless gown, nothing we haven’t seen before, but the perfect go-to dress for a busy mom of fifteen. Meryl Streep was a hit in her gray, long-sleeved gown. In this group, the only actress not on her mark was Kate Winslet. The gray YSL gown had an awkward neckline and the black lace overlay did not seem integrated, though her hair and makeup were flawless.
The young crowd turned out with mixed reviews. Miley Cyrus wore an overwrought Disney princess number. The dress was a pale pink ball gown with a skirt of black and silver beaded cascading petals. She looked ready to take a turn on the dance floor with a Beast. Her fellow Disney star, Vanessa Hudgens looked sophisticated beyond her years in a black mermaid dress, a modern version of “Barbie in the Spotlight” by Marchesa. Freida Pinto gave an elegant nod to her Bollywood background in a blue sapphire asymmetrical dress with a sheer beaded overlay by John Galliano.
And just so you don’t think I am ignoring the men, Mickey Rourke in the Victorian mourning tradition chose to accessorize his white tuxedo by wearing his dead dog around his neck. Did we expect anything less?
Laura Bennett was trained as an architect but has since established her career as a fashion designer by becoming a finalist on Season 3 of the Bravo hit television series Project Runway. Bennett lives amid complete chaos in New York City with her husband and six children, Cleo, 20, Peik, 13, Truman, 10, Pierson, 6, Larson, 5, and Finn, 2.