Monday, March 13, 2023

Fashion Review: 2023 Oscars

The Oscar film nominees didn't inspire much passion from me this year. In most films I saw, there were spectacular performances but the movies themselves felt uneven and indulgently long. So, what I lack in enthusiasm for the nominees themselves, I'll have to apply to the FASHION! And thankfully, there were some dazzling looks last night.

The show itself had some beautiful moments (I'm still crying about Ke Huy Quan's journey) but it also had a huge misstep, which was a CHAMPAGNE carpet. Some things about the Oscars need fixing, but none of those things was the red carpet. Can you imagine how dirty and gross this thing got? If there's one organization that needs to be the standard-bearer for red carpets, it's the Academy.


Angela Bassett, Oscar winner of my heart, serially robbed Queen of the Screen, at least takes the trophy for Best Dressed in my book. She wore — as she well should — the color of royalty in this exquisitely draped Moschino gown. Her hair was bouncy like Rita Hayworth's, and she had the It accessory of the 2023 awards circuit, the diamond snake necklace. She's glowing.

I don't really know how I got in a situation where I'm routinely ranking Cara Delavingne as a best-dressed actress, but here we are. Her Elie Saab gown is over-the-top, but in a way that understands the assignment. Gorgeous shade of scarlet, big Angelina Jolie leg energy, fabulous diamonds and perfect hair all scream OSCARS.

It isn't easy to straddle that line of sexy, classic and edgy, but Lady Gaga did it so well in this Atelier Versace that marries Hitchcockian elegance with sharp angles fit for Morticia Addams. I love that she did the heavy make-up of a Robert Palmer band member in "Addicted to Love." The sheer back dipped down to her bottom, giving it made-you-look playfulness.

By virtue of her marriage to fashion businessman Francois-Henri Pinault, Salma Hayek should, theoretically, have the best access to luxury fashion houses of almost any actress. And yet, her fashion outings in recent years have been underwhelming. Not so at the 2023 Oscars, where she strided in like a phoenix rising from the ashes, smoking embers shimmering in her wake. Bronze sequins, fringe and a halter are all she needed to soar to the top.

If you're a total newcomer to Oscars fashion, this is what you wear: billowing highlighter pink satin tucked into a bubble hem with an on-trend corset by Valentino. This color is so dreamy on Stephanie Hsu.

I like that Allison Williams' look took some real swings for the fences, and it has the glamour and element of surprise I'm looking for at these events. Her Giambattista Valli outfit has something to see from every angle — the sheer gown would be notable enough for its feather hem, but topping it off with this cherry blossom pink voluminous cape makes it feel like opening night at the opera in the Maria Callas days. I love the drama.

Nicole Kidman, out here slinking down carpets for 30+ years like it ain't no thang. She makes it looks exceptionally easy to wear giant flowers, high slits, and one sleeve in this Armani Prive. What I actually like best about this look is her no-fuss hair. She looks very modern.

Jessica Chastain has really figured out the exact right style team, including a fruitful working relationship with Gucci that consistently makes her one of the best dressed. As a presenter and recent winner, she chose wisely with this big-impact silver sequin number trimmed in black that doesn't steal the show, but is definitely a knockout. It's fit for the modern equivalent of an Old Hollywood star.

Silver sequins were everywhere! I also love this flutter-sleeve and tulle-trimmed Rodarte version on Kate Hudson. It was SO shimmery on camera, which is really the goal, if we're being honest.

This hooded sequin gown by Ralph Lauren on Malala!!!! She is so fabulously glamorous, and somehow still has her head on her shoulders and clear eyes on her goals. I love her.

Michelle Yeoh went very Oscars classic in this feather-trimmed, ruffled gown fit for an angel by Dior Haute Couture. It's a little bit on the safe side, but I do really love the ethereal way it moves.


THIS is what a presenter looks like. Emily Blunt looked so chic in this sexy white column gown by Valentino, accented with the longest, swingiest ruby earrings. It's deceptively simple, and instantly timeless.

A little risque, and maybe actually slightly risky, Janelle Monae's Vera Wang gown was interesting and eye-popping. It's not one of my favorite looks by her, but it was the right move for a presenter and stood out on a night when a lot of people played it very safe.

Danai Gurira's feather-trimmed modern Jason Wu gown is lovely but she had the best accessory with her updo, a tribute to African women that also called to mind the classic looks of Nina Simone. She looks incredibly chic.

Michelle Williams is basically a pro at awards show dressing, and this Chanel gown is a nice addition to her future slide show of best looks. I'm not in love with any single aspect of it, but I can appreciate the glamour of shrouding oneself in a cloud of tulle. It's very bridal!

Monica Barbaro, of Top Gun: Maverick, had one mission for the night: make us take a second look, and have directors thinking of casting her. Mission accomplished! I love the unexpected color combo of deep aubergine and dusty blue, and this Elie Saab silhouette is so graceful. Her makeup was luminous. It's not earth-shattering, but it's not boring, so I'd say she nailed it.

Ariana DeBose played it a bit safe with an art deco-inspired Atelier Versace gown with strong shoulders. I like it, but it feels like another iteration of the same Balmain gown I have seen on every Kardashian in the past few years.

I love Sandra Oh for having fun with color in this billowing saffron Giambattista Valli gown that feels like she's about to lead a cast in a performance of Lysistrata (would watch!!!). She looks like one of the few people having fun with fashion just for the hell of it at this year's Oscars.

Speaking of fun with fashion, Halle Berry just has to do her trademark dress twirl princess moment and I love her for it. She's always loved flowers in fashion, so this white gown trimmed with nude flowers felt very her.


Our Hollywood hotties continue to have fun with fashion, which is delightful, but to mixed results. Two of my absolute faves — Riz Ahmed and Pedro Pascal — really tested me with their exaggerated throwbacks. Riz wore a brown-and-pink '70s-inspired shirt with lapels wide enough for takeoffs and landings.

Petro went sans collar or tie in a look I haven't seen since my own prom in 2001, and *checking my notes* nope, I still hate it. But they are both so charming and hot, I have to love them even in these bad looks.


Since the early aughts, I've been of the opinion that Cate Blanchett can do no wrong sartorially, but this blue velvet drapey look by Louis Vuitton feels a little like phoning it in. And maybe she was because she felt certain she would not be winning the Oscar, so might as well be a little comfy? The color is amazing for her eyes, but all in all, I'd rate this as forgettable.

It's hard to go wrong with nude sparkles, and for the most part, Jamie Lee Curtis looks fabulous in her Dolce & Gabbana, but the clear embellishments meant to mimic corsetry look like plastic straws glued haphazardly to the front. They appear to serve no real purpose other than decoration, and I find them needlessly distracting.

Jennifer Connolly has always favored futuristic, simplified silhouettes and her 2023 Oscar look was no exception. Her gown has what appears to be a grid-patterned panel that feels like a crumb catcher. It's like she has a Lite Brite sheet tucked into her gown.

I want to root for Ana de Armas, but her nomination for a movie so universally disliked was pretty shocking. Her fashion didn't serve her much better; the top half of her Louis Vuitton almost calls to mind Marilyn Monroe's famous nude sparkle dress, but the layers of fabric petals take it in an entirely different direction. It's all very "And I am also here." 

Andrea Riseborough, whose campaign to get nominated is under scrutiny for any potential ethical wrongdoing, also projected "I am also here" energy in this extremely blah pink lace dress that she wore with a leather jacket on the telecast.

You know you're getting old when all of the cool kids are saying this is The Look and all you see is a shaggy mullet on a 1970s groomsman. I have no doubt that Paul Mescal is cooler than me, and that incredibly wide-legged trousers with large bow ties and mullets are the vibe. I just can't say I love it. The overall effect makes him look shorter than I'm sure he is.


Florence Pugh has been asserting herself as a fashion risk-taker, with a focus on having elements that feel a bit incongruous. That could certain describe this "dressing up in mommy's closet" look that combines a billowing opera coat quite similar to that of Allison Williams, worn over a black mini with glam rock platform shoes and an "edgy" septum piercing. I like elements, but it just isn't coming together for me.

Where would we be without Jessie Buckley, who consistently blesses us with her refusal to play it safe. I actually love how dedicated she is to defying any conventional notions of "good." She gave us a vibe that could best be described as Leeloo from The Fifth Element costumed by Edward Gorey. She looks like she's about to star in a very punk staging of A Doll's House (would watch!!!). 

At this point I legit love Rooney Mara's commitment to looking like a ghost cursed to haunt awards shows for all her days. Will we ever solve the mystery that keeps her trapped forevermore in dishwater-colored gowns? With its gathered train, this Alexander McQueen gown gives the effect of choosing to wear not the gown you selected, but the dry cleaner's bag it came in.

Zoe Saldana chose a vintage slip-inspired Fendi gown with some truly bizarre shapes, like panels of satin drifting apart the way Pangea split into the continents we know today. Worst of all, it's super boring and she's too fabulous to look boring.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Fashion Review: 2023 Grammys

Hooray! I am the proud mother of a baby who sleeps through the night (knock on wood), so I'm easing back into my awards show commentary to the best of my ability. 

What better event to start with than the Grammys, the ultimate event in which no one knows quite what to wear. The ensemble needs to strike the right note of drama without veering into try-hard territory — unless it somehow is too delightful to ignore. Too classy is too boring. Too campy requires the confidence and stature to match. It's a tough line to walk! Here are my takes on who nailed it, shocked, awed, and merely showed up.


In the past 20 years, we've had a bit of a red carpet renaissance. There was a time only the very most adventurous of celebs would attempt to sell couture with this level of confidence, but now it's almost a requirement of new pop stars. Some seem more natural than others. Cardi, however, sells this sculptural Guarav Gupta as though she was born in an atelier. The articulated fingers! The peekaboo eye like she's Veronica Lake! The way she leans her hips! A queen. On a night of blue gowns, hers stuck out.

At this point, I feel like the only way Harry Styles could shock me would be by wearing a standard tux. He has managed to fully bring back the greatest of the '70s glam era with such confidence and ease that no one can question it. Under no circumstances could I ever endorse this Egonlab deep square-neck Swarovski harlequin suit on literally anyone else, but on Harry, it's divine.

Machine Gun Kelly is either giving us Red Carpet Tin Man or Red Carpet Conspiracy Theorist Tin Foil Hat-Wearing Man in this Dolce & Gabbana suit. I'm too much of a magpie not to love something this shiny, and I do like the exaggerated fit that almost makes it look like armor. He gave a surprisingly deep red carpet interview talking about imposter syndrome and the jarring nature of craving external validation, summing it up by saying something like "the real award is being an artist." It was sweet.

Sam Smith and Kim Petras and their cadre of unholy backup dancers brought maximum drama to the red carpet, and I love them for it. Look at how he's basically giving the camera a benediction. I appreciate this level of commitment to camp. 

Steve Lacy shows us how you do the classic tux in 2023. His poise and grace in Saint Laurent conjure Prince Rogers Nelson for me (this bone structure!!!) and let's be honest, this is absolutely what a rich Park Avenue grandma would wear to a funeral and he's WORKING IT. I can picture him slipping this entire ensemble out of Lee Radziwill's closet.

Every songstress deserves her princess of the ball moment, and this Prabal Gurung gown on Kelsea Ballerini is a particularly fun one for the Grammys — it manages to combine an electric yellow with cutouts AND a train AND a cape and not feel like too much. 

Atelier Versace dressed at least a couple attendees in couture fit for The Matrix, and I love that dichotomy of soft and hard. This gown, on Anitta, looks like it was made for Catwoman in the best way.


For the uninitiated, the best/worst category is for outfits that are dancing right on the line of being absolutely fab or absolutely terrible but were presented with a level of confidence and panache that evoke pure delight.

Shania Twain has been hanging out with Harry Styles and maybe he's got her feeling frisky, because she straight up came to the Grammys in this Harris Reed ensemble like Cruella de Vil if she got a makeover from Jessica Rabbit. I can almost picture her on a Chick-fil-A billboard in this compelling us to "eat mor chikin." But you know what? If you can come out of an absolutely heinous divorce with kooky aunt energy, you should flaunt it.

J.Lo essentially wore 3-4 dresses all hodge-podged together by Gucci, with two (count 'em TWO) diamond snake necklaces, and while I do love her maximalism, I craved maybe just one or even two of these dresses. She is always the Most and I love her for it.

To be clear, I genuinely love the understated black-on-black suit paired with a snake diamond necklace, all allowing Lil Uzi Vert's Rick and Morty hair to do all the talking. I honestly love this look, lol, but I'm sure there are many jokes to be made online about electrocution, etc.


Adele looks like a modern take on The Gilded Age in her merlot velvet Louis Vuitton gown with sleeves that call to mind warped and bent vinyl. It's interesting, but understated, and that's her vibe. Her makeup is, as always, perfection.

I'm giving Kacey Musgraves a B- on this one. She understood the assignment to be fun for the Grammys with her pale pink Valentino bodysuit and ostrich feather cape. But it honestly feels like something I've seen on her before, and borderline ho-hum! I would have liked to see her zig where I expected her to zag.

Lizzo certainly delivered the drama in her Dolce & Gabbana papaya floral cape, and this color is fabulous on her. It's correct for the event, but it also weirdly feels like a very very very fancy Snuggie.

Doja Cat also wore Matrix couture from Atelier Versace, and I think it's fun to see a classic silhouette rendered in S&M-ready latex or leather. It's traditional with a naughty streak.

Pharrell deserves more credit for paving the way for truly iconoclastic fashion at awards shows — in his gigantic Mountie hat, he truly walked so Harry Styles could run. Sunday night was no exception; he was looking a little bit Eddie Murphy 1983 comedy special in his quilted red leather tracksuit and a little bit Peggy Guggenheim in his fur and teeny tiny diamond sunglasses. Somehow it works!


Taylor's midnight blue Roberto Cavalli two-piece gown with gigantic chandelier earrings felt very been there, done that for me. It reminded me of Prom 2001, and not in a fun Y2K-is-back way. It's fine, she looks great, yadda yadda yadda. Not one I'd consider memorable.

I'm imagining Camila Cabello excitedly describing her outfit to someone, like "It's pasties, but like, classy." For me, there's not enough there to consider this a design, or even a look. It looks like a hasty doily solution to a problem. 


I don't usually have a category for this, but Queen Latifah's emeralds were so eye-catching and fabulous, it had to be acknowledged. Also, it was a true pleasure to see her in her element rapping "UNITY" again. I love imagining all these CBS stars getting to relive their baddie days on the same network as their crime procedurals, shocking the seniors.


Miguel looked at Justin Timberlake's iconic Texas tuxedo from 2001 and said, "I can do you one better" with this all-denim look. It's a denim hoodie on a denim duster over a denim baseball cap with denim jeans that have an exposed-zipper fly, and if you told me he was wearing denim underwear, I wouldn't bat an eyelash.

Menswear designers are trying so desperately to force brown suits back into the public consciousness, and I won't allow it, not on my watch. Jack Harlow has paired a taupe look that my Nana would have declared "serviceable" with leather driving gloves, as though he's a driver for a Russian mobster who knows at any moment he'll have to toss a body in a river. It's not terrible terrible, but it's definitely not good. 

I am so ready for Maren Morris to get a really fantastic stylist (or a new stylist! Something!). She has all the makings of someone who could and should be at the next level, but I actually think her styling is holding her back from red carpet glory. She alternates between looking like a pretty Nashville princess, a Kardashian wannabe and whatever this is meant to be. I don't think her look is defined, and it comes across as weak attempts to be edgy. This Off-White ensemble is so snoozy, and the only thing making it pop is her lightened eyebrows and wet hair look, which are giving me more Laura Palmer washed up in Twin Peaks than Superstar on the Rise.