The Oscars Red Carpet Was Back in a Big Way

Viola gets our vote for best dressed of the night, but there were lots of style standouts

Remember when people in Hollywood complained that there were too many awards shows, too many red carpets, a surfeit of gowns, and far too many jewels for anyone not to be jaded by? Well, those days are gone. After nothing but Zoom awards shows since last September’s Emmys, masks, fuzzy little screens, and technical difficulties have made us hungry for glamor, gowns, diamonds, the works. And on the live Oscars red carpet, we got it. The ceremony may have been subdued, but the fashion was not. It seems like it took a year of visual starvation to bring back serious eye candy.

Ballgowns were back. Jewelry was back (particularly Cartier, and particularly on the men!). Molten gold lamé was back. Bare stomachs and thighs were back. And maybe best of all: faces were back. From Amanda Seyfried’s red lipstick to Angela Bassett’s smokey eyes, it was a shock to the system to see skin, eyes, lips, noses. We bet the makeup artists are breathing a sigh of mask-less momentary relief.

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Carey Mulligan, Leslie Odom Jr., and Andra Day all wore gold

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Several nominees dressed like the Oscars they hoped to win. Carey Mulligan’s Valentino couture and Andra Day’s Vera Wang looked like versions of the statuette contrasting silhouettes.

As Mulligan demonstrated, the ballgown skirt made a return after many a year of slinky or skintight column gowns. How many years have we seen metallic lamé beaded sheath dresses at the Oscars? Her gold metallic mega-hoop skirt put Scarlett O’Hara’s mile-wide gowns to shame.

Amanda Seyfried’s ruffles stole the show

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool

There’s always a favored shade of red at the show, and this year it was poppy. Amanda Seyfried’s poppy-red Armani gown, a tip of the hat to Mank and old Hollywood, combined many of the Oscars trends: a deep-V neckline; a tight, corseted bodice; and that voluminous tulle skirt. The best detail had to be the ruffles at the top of each side of the corset. The color of Angela Bassett’s red Alberta Ferretti gown almost overwhelmed her giant oversized puff sleeves, but not quite. The woman knows how to give drama, and the internet summed it up perfectly: “Aging like a fine wine.” Reese Witherspoon’s lipstick-red Christian Dior chiffon pleated gown was in a silhouette we’ve seen before, but a color we’ve rarely seen her in.

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Angela Bassett always serves drama

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool

White, however, stole the night. Viola Davis was breathtaking in a custom Alexander McQueen that featured many peekaboo cutouts—another Oscar theme—that looked like angelic vines crawling up her upper torso, and a skirt of simple, silken, flowing pleats. She gets our vote for best dressed of the year, perhaps of her entire red carpet career—and that’s saying something.

In her custom Louis Vuitton tulle and satin deep V gown, you’d hardly know Maria Bakalova was gracing her first Oscars red carpet. And Laura Dern looked classy and fun in a white feather ball skirt with a simple long-sleeved mock turtleneck—a trend many men embraced at the show.

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Vanessa Kirby in pale pink

Chris Pizzelo-Pool/Getty Images

Pink was the hue for Halle Berry, Vanessa Kirby, and Emerald Fennell. Kirby wore a custom Gucci pale-pink silk gazar strapless gown with box pleat train with a satin clutch. Best screenplay winner Fennell wore a Gucci Epilogue green and lilac multicolor floral printed organdy long sleeve gown with all-over sequin embroidery and ruffle details with silver metallic leather high heel platform sandals and a pink satin Dionysus clutch. Laverne Cox’s fuchsia Christian Siriano “saloon gal” tulle ballgown gown was loud, which was the intention, no doubt.

Zendaya wore the evening’s stand-out color: lemon yellow. The cutout in her vibrant citrus Valentino gown made the bodice channel a bikini top, but, hey, there’s no silhouette she can’t pull off.

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Regina King was the queen of the red carpet

Chris Pizzelo-Pool/Getty Images

Regina King was an absolute queen in a grayish-blue satin sheath with structured sleeves that looked like butterfly wings. Also in blue, icon Glenn Close, who wore a soldier blue Armani Privé beaded tunic over slim slacks, and satin gloves. “I’ve known Glenn Close for a long time, and I admire her spontaneous elegance, which I wanted to highlight with a truly evocative outfit,” Giorgio Armani told The Hollywood Reporter. “[The look is] a bit Art Deco in the precious embroidery, with a nod to the Far East in the long tunic and the slit on the trousers.”

Kudos to all the stylists for bringing sexy back to the red carpet. We didn’t realize how much we’d missed it.

RELATED: Boring? Reverent? Here’s Who Won at This Year’s Decidedly Different Oscars

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