Classic Hollywood with a touch of bling at Oscars
Claudia Parsons Reuters/Los Angeles
Dressed to kill, decked out in jewels so over the top they looked fake and teetering on shoes worth more than a small car, Hollywood's beautiful people paraded down the biggest catwalk in the world on Sunday.
Inspired by the year's most-nominated film The Aviator, the main look was sleek and sophisticated with dresses that harked back to Hollywood's Golden Era of the 1930s and 1940s.
But not everybody was playing along. In keeping with the Academy's bid to attract a younger audience by choosing edgy comedian Chris Rock as host of the evening, stars from the music world were on hand to keep the bling quota high.
Beyonce Knowles took her turn on the red carpet in black velvet Versace but dressed up to perform the nominated song from Phantom of the Opera in the biggest diamond necklace and earrings she could find, more chandelier than chic.
Walking the red carpet before the Oscars are handed out is almost as important for some as what goes on inside the theater, a chance to shine in front of tens of millions of television viewers and make front pages around the world.
Loyal fans, many of them returning every year for decades, screamed and clapped for their favorite stars -- although occasionally at the prompting of an Academy official -- and a dozen or more cooks and caterers watched from the roof of the theater.
Australian actress Cate Blanchett, who won the best supporting actress Oscar for her performance as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator, carried one of Hepburn's gloves in her purse.
"I don't want to make a big deal of it," she said before the ceremony. "It's for good luck."
Blanchett chose a pale yellow Valentino couture gown with a jeweled corsage on the shoulder and a burgundy band around the waist. But she admitted after winning that she was more comfortable in men's clothes.
"Definitely when I was playing (Hepburn) I felt more at home in the suits than the dresses," Blanchett said.
From Laura Linney to Renee Zellweger, many of the stars sacrificed practicality for style, choosing strapless figure- hugging mermaid dresses that flared at the knee.
Hilary Swank, nominated for best actress, looked a different woman from the gutsy boxer in sweats that she played in Million Dollar Baby. She wore a smoky bluish purple long sleeved dress by Guy Laroche with a high neck and a plunging back that had a classic vintage look.
Karen Loftus, fashion reporter for In Touch weekly, described the turnout as "sleek, sophisticated and sexy."
"It was beautiful, classic old Hollywood," she said, noting that there were no major fashion disasters by the big stars.
Natalie Portman, nominated as best supporting actress, bucked the trend, opting for a taupe chiffon dress whose ancient Greek look was reminiscent of one the year's less successful films, Alexander, and a diamond hairband.
Model Gisele Bundchen sashayed along on the arm of her boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio in a floaty white strapless puff of a dress with gold embroidery, in what Loftus said made the best actor nominee the best-dressed man of the evening.
"He was wearing Gisele. What better thing can you wear than Gisele?" she said.