Pre-Oscar Fashion Week Was a Runway Unto Itself

L.A. Uncovered: The run-up to the big show on Sunday night was a panoply of pre-parties, jewelry suites champagne lunches

New York, London, Milan and Paris just wrapped up their fashion weeks—but this past week was our turn—the one before the Oscars in Los Angeles is also known as “Awards Fashion Week” here.

The run-up to the proverbial red carpet—or, in the case of this year’s Oscars, the champagne-colored carpet leading nominees and presenters up to the Dolby Theater—all started at the Independent Spirit Awards on March 4 and went all the way to Oscar Sunday, with a panoply of pre-parties, jewelry suites for stylists, champagne lunches and caviar pizzas as a lead-in to the big night. It was a constant parade of beautifully cut suits (on men and women), day dresses with coats, cocktail finery, tuxes—and full-on gowns—some of them at lunch. While traditional New York and European fashion shows previewed fall 2023 looks, Awards Fashion Week is a glimpse of spring, fall, and the past January’s couture shows. It’s even featured a literal runway: Versace’s fall 2023 fashion show at the Pacific Design Center, which nearly was rained out.

The belles of nearly every ball were nominees Cate Blanchett and Michelle Yeoh, up against each other for Best Actress—but bonded at events all over town. At last weekend’s  Independent Spirit Awards, Michelle (with ace stylist Jordan Johnson) wore a deep blue Gucci column blue frill petal around the neck that looked like angel wings. Cate Blanchett, who’s been on a mostly all-black kick this awards season (dressing as if she assumed Yeoh would take the kudos), looked appropriately low-key chic in a black caped Loewe jumpsuit.

Presenters Aubrey Plaza (in Saint Laurent) and Marisa Tomei both donned stark black tux-like suits – a trend we saw all week, everywhere we went. Whether sleek or baggy-trousered, Yves St. Laurent’s “smoking for women” tux silhouette style is more prevalent than ever—and sexier without a blouse or top under, as these ladies proved.

Jodie Turner-Smith in an Elie Saab mini “balletcore” dress

Another trend turning up at all kinds of events was the mini-dress and mini-suit. At the Indie Spirits, Jodie Turner-Smith turned heads in an all-feathered (birds in many feathers were flying all week) Elie Saab “balletcore” tulle look, while The Bear best-supporting winner Ayo Edebiri wore a strapless gold plated Oscar de la Renta mini -a gown that could have been a (chic) suit of armor. Danielle Deadwyler donned a cool white tweed Chanel mini suit. Not surprisingly the mini also showed its legs at many of the fall 2023 runway shows.

Ayo Edebiri in Oscar de la Renta
Danielle Deadwyler in Chanel

It was raining rocks this past week. Major European jewelers Bulgari (Italy) and Chopard (Switzerland) set up shop in town to show special red carpet collections to select clients, stylists, and stars—and yes, we observing editors. Bulgari staged a pop-up on Rodeo Drive, not in their flagship store, but in a special pop-up down the street, where it celebrated the 75th anniversary of its famed Serpenti icon and collection. They editorialized the history with photos (Elizabeth Taylor, shooting Cleopatra in Italy, wandered into Bulgari and wound up being the first client!) and with iconic jewels past and present: Serpenti necklaces, watches, rings. Wouldn’t be surprised to see some of those coiled bejeweled gold serpents slinking down the Oscar red carpet.

Chopard took up residence in a villa at The Beverly Hills Hotel, where they showed new premier pieces created by Creative Director Caroline Sh… many of which are based on her love of nature, animals, and fruit. The suite was decked out not just in diamonds, and emeralds (one emerald choker was 90 carats!), but in flowers, sushi, champagne and caviar. Chopard also hosted a beautiful lunch on the Saturday before the Oscars at the Bel Air Hotel for clients, family and friends. This time, the diamonds and jewels worn by models in Dennis Basso gowns took center stage—more gaping was done at necks and ears than dresses.

The Bulgari Rodeo Drive pop up dedicated to 75 years of their Serpenti jewelry icon

There were so many parties, it was pretty hard to keep up: Australian pre-Oscar party. The Green Carpet Fashion Awards, created by Livia Firth, to put forth the idea of recycling red carpet wear—something nominee and double Oscar winner Cate Blanchett has shown off for years, particularly this week. She’s one of the rare actresses who will rework older looks with pride. While her mint green Valentino couture oversized suit with a giant pink satin bow wasn’t exactly new—it was created with deadstock fabrics from the Valentino Atelier. Look for major fashion houses recycling older fabrics as a way to up their environmental footprints – and publicity. Also, look for the mint and pink combo turning up a lot more in the future. And ladies in baggy suits. Attendees also included Tom Ford, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jerry Hall, and the late Vivienne Westwood’s designer husband Andreas Kronthaler—Viv was one of the pioneers of fashion environmentalism.

Cate Blanchett in recycled fabric by Valentino Couture

Thursday night was veritable limo gridlock of events: Donatella Versace had to move her major outdoor fall 2023 held at the top of Pacific Design Center from Friday to Thursday due to the oncoming rain—unfortunately, many invitees missed that last-minute email and never showed—though Cher did, which is all you really need. Bulgari had a soiree for Serpenti in the pop-up. Omega watches had dinner with Ariana de Bose.

Viola Davis at the Hollywood Beauty Awards at the Taglyan Complex

One of the higher profile events was the 8th annual Hollywood Beauty Awards, which honored the great hair and makeup artists for film and TV. You know they’re important to stars when Charlize Theron, Anne Hathaway, and Viola Davis, show up to present to them. Theron confessed she’d done her own (slicked back) hair that night: “So, now I really know how great you all are! I F-ing love you!” Viola Davis, in a fuchsia coat dress, wore what’s turning into the color of the season (that being awards season)—some call it “Barbiecore.” Andie MacDowell, sexy as even in a metallic and blush Fendi couture gown, was appropriately awarded The Timeless Beauty Award—proving metallics are forever on any color carpet.

Andie MacDowell in Fendi Couture at the Hollywood Beauty Awards

Saturday night, Armani gave its annual pre-Oscar fete at their Rodeo Drive boutique, this year honoring Michelle Yeoh, which means Yeoh will very definitely be donning Armani Prive’ at the Oscars. Pal Jamie Lee Curtis, possibly the most popular person in Hollywood right now, posed with her non-stop. As usual, it was an elegantly tailored crowd packing the store, with fans clamoring and gaping all down the street.

Alexa Chung in Chanel couture at the pre-Oscar dinner

Saturday night also saw the annual Charles Finch and Chanel pre-Oscar dinner, with a stellar crowd gathering in their tweeds at the Polo Lounge. The hot look of the night? Mini tweed suits and dresses. Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Kristen Stewart and Alexa Chung all donned the leggy look—Chung modeling hers in—what else would a trendy girl do? Barbiecore pink.

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