Monday, April 26, 2021

Fashion Review: Oscars 2021

This year's Oscars culminated a long and tortured awards season that showed us the best and worst distancing and virtual Zooms have to offer. Luckily for the Oscars producers, we've reached a point of relative safety that allowed them to craft an intimate new vision for the show, and although I lament the lack of acting clips, some weird camera angle choices and the genuinely bizarre ordering of awards, I think this was one of my favorite Oscars! I actually loved many of the movies, I appreciated the many ways the nominated films represented the vast human experience, and I loved not having an orchestra cut people off. The speeches were moving and even better, the fashion was breathtaking!

After a year of fashion restricted to torso-up Zoom cams, it was such a breath of fresh air to see full looks in all their glory. And I spotted very few genuinely bad outfits, even if I wish the color stories were a bit more varied than red and gold. It's fun to see men take a giant leap in formal fashion over the past few years and the ladies also conveyed a sense of the genuine joy of fashion after a year without.

BEST DRESSED


One of the neatest tricks of Oscar-dressing is that, if you dare to cosplay as the gold statue, you will indeed make an impact. Carey Mulligan in Valentino Haute Couture made me GASP from the sheer resplendent glory of that swath of shiny gold. Do yourself a favor and look up pictures of the sequin detail; it's true craftsmanship. On the red carpet, the E! hosts said a flash of abs after a pandemic is a statement accessory, and ain't that the truth? 


Regina King is a storyteller with ever fiber of her being, and it's such a delight to see how she extends that to her fashion. I love how this ice-blue Louis Vuitton brings drama to a very classic form and color; the crystal outlines on those winged sleeves evoked Tiffany dragonfly lamps. Her crispy bob offsets the neckline and voluminous sleeves perfectly and her jewelry is just right.


When Viola Davis appeared in this intricate cut-out Alexander McQueen, straddling the line between futurism and romance, I think I actually shouted, "Ow! Ow! Ow!" Too hot to handle, truly. I love that every time I see her, she looks like she's playing a new character on the red carpet. The fit, the detail and the ethereal angelic quality of this dress are such a nice contrast to her character in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." 


Zendaya looks simply breathtaking in her canary yellow Valentino that, honestly, I'm not sure another living person could wear this well. The way the fan is hitting her hair? That's Disney princess stuff. The necklace combo of chunky diamonds scattered with yellow diamonds? That's regal business. I'm thoroughly convinced she can wear any color and rock any era of fashion. 


Laura Dern swanned onto the red carpet in an Oscar de la Renta turtleneck exploding into ostrich feathers as though she was dramatically closing her laptop and saying goodbye to Zoom fashion forever. After a year of using collars, sleeves, and necklaces to shout "FASHION," it feels like an exhale to see the main attraction be below the height of a screen. 


This look on Angela Bassett's face says she knows what we are all thinking, which is that we are honestly blessed to share this timeline with her, to gaze upon her looking like the bow they put on a Lexus at Christmas, a feast for the eyes and spirit. The blue smoky eye is the real killer here. In recent years, she's embraced the statement sleeve, and I like to think it's because it forces people to stand a few feet back and just bask in her aura. 


Amanda Seyfried wore what I would consider to be the most classically Oscars dress by Armani Prive; it's timelessly beautiful, with elegant pleating and a full, fluffy skirt. I do kind of wish she'd turned up the volume with big glamorous art deco diamond cuffs or a vintage tiara, or something that just felt very silent film era in honor of her character, Marion Davies.


Leslie Odom was suited up in the most beautiful burnished gold suit, in a beautiful fit, that seemed like a nod to the shiny suits his character, Sam Cooke, might have worn at his height. It's been really fun to see his style evolution.


"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" star Colman Domingo wore perhaps the most daring suit of the night, a shock of hot pink encrusted with rhinestones and a FIT. I think it would have worked without the rhinestones, but honestly, I love seeing men embrace fun in fashion.


This shot doesn't quite capture the sleek cool of Riz Ahmed's mock turtleneck Prada suit with a cummerbund, but you can at least see how cool his shoes look. I just have a mega crush on him and I thought he looked so fine. 


Men are also having so much fun with jewelry, and Daniel Kaluuya had the most beautiful Cartier jewelry to accompany his black suit. He looked like himself, and I appreciate men are feeling more free to express themselves through their red carpet looks.

GOOD


Andra Day and her style team also got the "good as gold" memo, and she came dressed to impress in this slinky Vera Wang. Apparently, Wang's team actually worked with a metalsmith to mold and shape this gown, inspired by Billie Holiday's love of feeling sexy. Read all about it!


Maria Bakalova's entire journey from acting in her native Bulgaria to Oscar nominee for "Borat 2" feels like a fairy tale, and she perfectly evoked that in her dreamy white Louis Vuitton tulle gown. It's certainly lovely and even if it's not exactly the most memorable look, it was a perfect fit for a magical evening at the start of what's hopefully a long career.


Hair and makeup designer Mia Neal became one of the first Black women to win an Oscar for her category, and she did it in this eye-catching architectural navy gown trimmed with pearls and rhinestones. While I wish the neckline was a little less smothering, it looked beautiful on screen, and looked very regal while she gave one of the best speeches of the night.


I love the bodice fit and medieval sleeves of this Vivienne Westwood gown on Marlee Matlin, who continues to be a complete smoke show. It was dramatic and interesting, while being totally appropriate for a presenter rather than nominee.


I've long thought Lakeith Stanfield is one of the most interesting and dynamic actors working today, and that extends to his red carpet adventures. This seventies-inspired suit by Saint Laurent felt so right for him, the era of his character in "Judas and the Black Messiah" and also quintessentially Saint Laurent. The wide collar, the o-ring belt ... it's all just dripping with swag.


In this house we live for an Alan S. Kim fashion moment. This little boo completely stole my heart in "Minari" and his mini Thom Browne schoolboy look is pitch perfect.

BEST/WORST


Listen. Is there a world where I would wear a dishwater greige knit dress that looks like it might be cult couture with fresh white sneakers to the Oscars? No, indeed not. But did it feel exactly right on dear Chloe Zhao, the eternally fresh-faced director of "Nomadland," and clearly someone who does not plan to ever employ a "glam squad?" Yes, it felt so right. Congrats to her, and three cheers for comfort. 


I love volume, I love checkerboard/gingham-type patterns, I like a little red carpet derring-do, but this little toadstool of a dress felt like a whole lot of ideas. Imagine it in a rich, lustrous emerald satin. That would be delightful. I have to hand it to Dana Murray, producer of Pixar's "Soul," for having the guts to zig when everyone probably expected her to zag.

MEH


There's nothing particularly bad about this variegated shades of red Dior gown on Reese, but it's not worthy of her. The fit and length feel off, and I always say this particular ombre color scheme never fails to remind me of menses. If it were slightly longer and pooled a little bit with a train, I think it would balance out the lines better and make her look taller.


Vanessa Kirby always looks like such a modern baddie, and I love it, especially knowing she came to the fore playing a young Princess Margaret, another famous baddie. I like so much about her Gucci look, including the very edgy hair and lipstick, but the little sliver of peekaboo stomach here actually confused me. At first I thought it was the weirdest sash that happened to be nude fabric and I wondered why. When I realized it was stomach, I felt like it was such a weird shape to cut out. I almost would rather it be more or less, but not this little half-moon. 


This Chanel couture gown on Margot Robbie felt perfectly fine, if a little ho-hum. It would make a very lovely, if possibly forgettable, prom dress. It was appropriate and nice and all that stuff. 


Pregnant ladies deserve to look like diaphanous garden goddesses, so I completely understand the draw of Emerald Fennell's fun and flirty Gucci. It just felt a teensy weensy bit meh to me for the Oscars, but I would die for it at almost any other event. I think a beautiful updo, or maybe even wavier hair might have elevated the look a bit.


I genuinely love the subtle ombre of Halle Berry's romantic lilac gown, and I actually like the length of her silent film-era bob, but I cannot abide baby bangs and on camera, her makeup look appeared muted. The hair and makeup styling could have been better.

WORST DRESSED


Our queen Glenn did not take home the Oscar, but she did take home our hearts for her timeless and expertly delivered performance of "Da Butt" in one of the better bits we've seen in a long time. I wish I could say I loved her outfit here, which has the feeling of something a Crusader would wear if he liked sensible pumps while conquering foreign lands. Instead of a couple disparate looks, I think I'd rather see either a commitment to the top as a gown, or shorten it with a cool sash or add a train or do something a touch more interesting. The glove is strange but maybe fun? I think it's obvious she didn't expect to win and I'm hopeful the next time she's on the carpet, it's a big victory lap.


My sense of good and bad is so warped now that I couldn't decide what I even think about H.E.R. in this lace hooded jumpsuit with a train by Dundas. Is it fantastic? I dunno. Is it some sort of lingerie for the truly demure? It could be. Is it maybe less of a design than a twister of lace H.E.R. is trapped inside? Possibly. It feels very H.E.R. whatever it is. 


Honestly, I'm reaching a bit with this look on singer Celeste Waite, because it's almost so campy it's good. The outfit struck me as something Party City would wear for a sexy Hester Prynne costume, and a ripped-out heart accessory feels appropriate for the harshly judged heroine of "The Scarlet Letter." It is equally likely this is just a straight-up costume as the Queen of Hearts. If this is one of the worst of the night, it was a pretty good night.

 

Leave it to someone you least suspect to step out in one of the most daring/confounding looks of the night! Romanian film producer Bianca Oana wore this gold-striped....what would you call this? Sleeveless trench vest over...are those gold beribboned floor-length culottes? I genuinely can't tell what I'm looking at, and I think if your outfit requires forensic level examination, it might be too much look. 


Double nominee Sacha Baron Cohen brought all the glamour of a tenured philosophy professor to the red carpet, wearing a brown jacket and tie with rumpled, pleated cream trousers that look like khakis he pulled from the laundry bin at the last minute. At least Isla looks very hot.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Grammys 2021 Fashion Review

 Ah, Grammy's time again. Your annual reminder that the Grammy voters have their fingers on approximately 40% of the pulse and "new" means "new to them." I tune in for the performances, but rarely agree with the awards. But in the balance, I at least get to see some high-flying fashion antics!! 

As we've discussed many times here, the fashion rules of the Grammy's are: you betta not be boring. Safe is bad. And bad is also bad. But sometimes bad is fun and that's good? I don't know; it all makes sense in my head. 

Let's review:

BEST-DRESSED




Dua Lipa's flawless performance helped cement her status as the reigning pop princess, giving us 90's nostalgia repackaged so brilliantly on "Future Nostalgia." After a year of no concerts, she was kind enough to give us three in one, complete with Versace costume changes each more dazzling than the previous. We earned this, y'all.


If you've got this body ody ody ody, who can blame you for flaunting it? On the red carpet, Dua wore what amounts to a crystal bathing suit cover up, and I like it, but as a matter of principle, I have long maintained showing the most skin you can isn't actually "fashion." HOWEVER, when I read this article about how it's a Versace tribute to late-90's pop divas Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera, well...I had no choice but to bump it up to BEST.


Harry has mastered honoring the elders who paved the way through his artful mix and match approach to style. If his Gucci leather suit is giving us Elvis '68 Comeback Special, his boa is pure Elton John and the moves? Just like Jagger. It's been so exciting to see him come into his own as a true original, while still giving these nods to the greatest of glam rock. 


Cynthia Erivo looks like an ancient queen in this silver-and-gold Louis Vuitton gown with to-die-for earrings and nails filed to kill. She has fun with fashion and it's all to our benefit. 


When I saw a shot of the small audience, I spied this look quickly and said, "Who is the duvet? Which one is the cloud?" It turned out it was Noah Cyrus, in the greatest toga party costume you've ever seen. It's by Schiaparelli, and if you know anything about the history of the house, it's a perfect example of their long-held commitment to more-is-more surreal drama. It has an air of The Queen Has Arrived, and when you really are trying to make a name for yourself beyond "little sister," that's a smart move.


We are in the cottagecore era of Taylor Swift, and I appreciate her commitment to feeding the algorithm. This Oscar de la Renta floral dress is a particularly lovely tight color palette that makes it look like a Dutch floral come to life and have you EVER seen a better shoe pairing, I mean really? 


H.E.R wore head-to-toe purple velvet fit for Prince, and I felt I could just picture him somewhere in Rock and Roll heaven asking his couturier to make one in his size. She definitely looks regal. 



Da Baby came out here like the Amadeus of rap, first in a Dolce & Gabbana floral tapestry suit, and then in rhinestone-encrusted Chanel. Da luxury! Da accessories! 


Phoebe Bridgers basically got me through quarantine, and I love her commitment to her goth chic schtick SO SO MUCH, so it's no surprise that I was fully delighted by her couture skeleton suit dress by Thom Browne. 


Lizzo looked a little bit mermaid, a little bit Diana Ross and very glam in her ruched-and-ruffled metallic confection by Balmain accessorized with jumbo glitter clips straight outta Claire's in 1997. I can picture her playing the Hollywood Bowl in this gown with a full orchestra.

BEST ACCESSORY


I genuinely love that Bad Bunny's signature style is basically Deadmau5 pigtail poms and Ali G glasses, but the best accessory of the night has to be his adorable flower. 

COVID CHIC


If all of us would have wanted to be wearing Cynthia's dress pre-COVID, we probably actually want Chika's tie-dye Nike ensemble with matching ruffled mask. Catch me in the club in this, late summer 2021. 

BEST/WORST



On the one hand, who can be mad at a tight palette of poop brown and black by Louis Vuitton? On the other hand, most of the members of BTS look great and then one has what appears to be a tiny mouse hoisting itself up a sweatshirt using the sweatshirt strings as a pulley system? And our friend on the far right has what looks like a big craft flower just plopped on there as an afterthought. Two great little head-scratching moments.

GOOD


So happy for Megan Thee Stallion, who has been one of the most hardworking women in music over the past few years. Her slit-up-to-there TK gown had the cut of Marilyn Monroe's "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" gown, but in a bright shade of orange. It's lovely, if not maybe the most original. It also frankly looked hard to walk in, and if you're going to be running up the stairs over and over to collect your awards, you need mobility.


After a year at home, I think we all can agree Billie Eilish has been onto something with her fashion dedication to stylish comfort. This finely detailed ensemble by Gucci is interesting enough to stand out, but I couldn't quite nudge it up to "best." 


Leave it to Chloe and Halle to make matchy dressing for siblings feel cool. I'm giving a slight edge to Chloe's Louis Vuitton tiger-striped ensemble accessorized with sheer elbow-length gloves and opaque thigh-high boots. 


But Halle looks just as sexy/sweet in her own Louis Vuitton dress with a regal train and headwrap. I love the subtle differences between their gown's patterns.


Your eyes do not deceive you; you have seen every variation of this gown on Jhen√© Aiko. It is the floofy loofah couture that Giambattista Valli made famous; this version is by Monsoori. So while this style always delivers impact, it is a bit played out. 

MEH


At first glance, I thought our friend Maren Morris was Khloe Kardashian, and apparently most of the internet did as well. It frankly bums me out. I'd like to move past the homogenous ideal of beauty presented by the Kardashians that leads people to overline their lips and smoky eye themselves to the point of being unrecognizable. Her plunging neckline lavender Dolce & Gabbana is pretty, but it feels sort of sleepy considering the occasion.


I like Finneas' honky tonk pink suit in theory but there are some distracting fit issues going on with the lapels; they look like they needed to come down in the chest maybe a couple inches to prevent that distracting gaping. 

WORST


I LOVE HAIM but this custom Prada situation made me LOL. As a group, they look vaguely like Star Trek fleet members dressed for a formal affair. As individuals, they've all got their own brand of weird going on. Left to right, Alana looks like she's serving up Mrs. Robinson mother-of-the-bride with this peekaboo shoulder; Danielle is wearing what my OB-GYN nurse hands me to put on right before my annual visit; and Esme looks like she stole this from Mary Ann Spier's wardrobe before the Babysitter's Club gave her a makeover (while ripping her sleeves in the process). As a style choice, they all opted to wear a hairstyle I call "The Awkwardest Part of Growing Out Bangs." Bless them. 


Doja Cat turned up in a fashion look that can only be described as "Black Tie Fast and the Furious Woman Who Waves the Flag at Street Car Race." But the real VIP here is double-sided tape, doing a lot of work to save Doja from herself. 


I'm not familiar with Jhay Cortez but I would like to talk to him about my missing package since I assume he does work for UPS. I appreciate that he tried to improve upon the uniform, but I fear pedal pusher-length shorts might not be it. 


Bless Miranda Lambert, but this look just isn't working on a few different levels. It's not a great fit, but even if it were a perfect fit, it's just very unremarkable, which is the greatest sin at the Grammys. That chunky platform shoe is the visual equivalent of an anvil.