February 23, 2006

Oscar fashion drips with glamour

By Alexandria Sage

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood wants to return to its
heyday of sophisticated glamour -- the days when a star was a
star and knew how to dress like one -- at this year's Academy
Awards, fashion insiders say.

But don't expect to see a single slinky fashion dominating
the red carpet at Oscar night on March 5.

A variety of styles will be key. Long flowing silk
charmeuse gowns will share the stage with vintage show-stealers
from glamorous eras gone by. A smattering of ballet-length hems
will be seen among floor-length gowns, and warm shades like
copper and olive will vie with vivid hues of fuchsia and lilac.

"I think we're going to see a return to the Hollywood
glamour era," said Patty Fox, fashion coordinator for the 78th
Academy Awards, adding, "We're going to see more variety than
we've seen in the past."

On Thursday, Fox hosted a fashion preview of the looks
expected to turn heads at the awards show, featuring designers
like Monique Lhuillier, Colleen Quen, Richard Tyler and Escada
-- all draped over models dripping in diamonds.

A lime Sylvia Heisel one-shoulder satin gown accented by a
Van Cleef & Arpels Art Deco diamond brooch gave way to a
flowing lilac chiffon Randolph Duke. A ruby-red Douglas Hannant
beaded dress weighing 25 pounds (11 kg) caused veteran Oscars
producer Gil Cates to joke, "The dress weighs more than the

Any color is fair game, said Fox, "as long as it's right
for the actress."

Men's styles -- tuxedos with waistcoats and black accented
with ivory -- will be reminiscent of the days when celluloid
heartthrobs Cary Grant and Gary Cooper prevailed, she said.


Despite the variety of couture and vintage choices, fashion
expert David Wolfe, creative director of New York-based
consultants The Doneger Group, said most stars would play it
sophisticated and safe, avoiding risk-taking.

"I have a feeling that most of the actresses on the red
carpet will follow the usual pattern of strapless column slinky
dresses that show off their bodies," Wolfe said. "The new
emphasis will be the back instead of the boobs -- but that
doesn't mean there won't be plenty of implants."

Rita Watnick, owner of the Beverly Hills vintage haute
couture boutique Lily et Cie, said Oscar nominees may take a
cue from Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman, who wore classic
white and black, respectively, at the Golden Globe awards.

"That says something about not trying too hard with color,"
said Watnick, who added, "Sometimes there is nothing better
than great design and lack of color."

A-list celebrities do not reveal their designers until
showtime, spurring speculation over the fashion choices of the
most-watched. Joan Rivers, doyenne of the red carpet, said she
planned to wear a steel gray off-the-shoulder gown by Michael
Vollbracht at Bill Blass trimmed in leather and feathers.

Rivers and daughter Melissa, hosting for the TV Guide
Channel, both predict that overtly sexy is out this year. "The
Academy Awards is not where people wear see-through ... or you
worry they'll fall out of their dress," said Melissa.

Rivers said Oscar attendees who crave the spotlight should
take a tip from television star Lara Flynn Boyle and singer
Bjork, who have gone down in history as sporting some of
Oscar's most bizarre fashions.

Boyle's ballerina outfit and Bjork's infamous swan gown --
which Rivers referred to as "the chicken costume" -- may have
been panned, but as they say in the business, there's no such
thing as bad publicity.

"If I were an actress, I would be in the most outrageous,
insane thing you could possibly find," said Rivers. "I would
dress like a sexy Dutch girl. Who cares? You'll end up on the
front page!"