Oscars: Wow factor returns

Sandra Bullock dressed the part at Sunday’s Academy Awards: She wore a gleaming, metallic, slim-fitting gown that seemed fashioned after the Oscar statuette itself.

The dress, at least, was a winner, making Bullock one of many who stepped up their style on what is considered Hollywood’s most important runway. Top actresses made bold color choices, donned stiffer shapes and used sparkle strategically to get them noticed.

“This red carpet was whimsical, thank God. It was the most interesting red carpet in a long time,” said Suze Yalof Schwartz, Glamour magazine’s executive fashion editor at large. “You want to see a dress that makes you say ‘Wow!’ and I saw at least six of those.”

There had been a trend in recent years to make safe choices at the Oscars, with celebrities knowing that the photos taken there would follow them for the rest of their lives. But there was a refreshing sense of fun – and some directional fashion – this year.

“We’re moving into architectural shapes and away from all the drapery. There were not a lot of ‘goddesses’ this year,” observed Sharon Graubard, senior vice president of trend analysis at forecasting firm Stylesight. “This was about glamour, very tasteful, grown-up glamour.”

Gold was a huge trend, with Kate Winslet looking like an old-school movie star in her sleek, strapless gold gown by Yves Saint Laurent and Deco-inspired $2.5 million yellow-diamond necklace from Tiffany & Co. Cameron Diaz, with bold red lips, was another screen siren in a gold strapless gown with metallic ribbons and pailettes by Oscar de la Renta; and Sarah Jessica Parker chose a custom yellow Chanel with silver flowers around the bustline.

“I loved Sarah Jessica Parker in Chanel. It was interesting, romantic and she’s a fashion risk-taker,” said Mary Alice Stephenson, stylist and fashion commentator.

She said the same for Diane Kruger in her white Chanel dress with black bands around the neck, waist and near the knees.

Flowers were another dominant theme at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. Bullock’s Marchesa gown had a delicate floral embroidery and Mo’Nique complemented her electric blue Tadashi Shoji asymmetrical dress with gardenias in her hair.