It's one thing to come off the red carpet having been dazzled by sparkle and pizzazz (as Diana Vreeland used to say) -- not to mention adrenaline -- and it's another to sit down a day or two later and really eyeball those Golden gowns -- and read into them, or from them, all kinds of things you didn't see in the afterglow of arrivals.
For one, we were impressed with loyalty. The days of Audrey Hepburn wearing all Hubert de Givenchy are gone, and most actresses flit from one designer to the next -- but Cate Blanchett clearly has a long and serious relationship with Giorgio Armani and Armani the brand. Jennifer Lawrence stayed true to Dior -- even if her winning Globe dress looked a bit too much like her winning Oscar dress. Zooey Deschanel stuck with Oscar de la Renta ("He does the feminine/girly thing that I love so well," she told The Hollywood Reporter), while Zoe Saldana once again wore a cool design by her good friend Prabal Gurung. Naomi Watts stunned in Tom Ford, but admitted she wore him because Liev wore him, and it was Liev's night, she told reporters. And Amy Poehler stuck with Stella McCartney all evening, while Tina Fey clung close to Carolina Herrera. And guess what? It worked for all of them. It doesn't hurt when a designer learns your taste, your figure and your attitude -- and builds from there. Not to mention that these ladies didn't care to bust out a new name on an important night -- they went with the tried and true, and in these fickle fashion days, that's something. Designer name-dropping isn't what it used to be.
Silver, Beads and Two-Tone
The prevalence of all things shiny -- particularly silver -- can't be underplayed. At the 2013 Oscars, almost every actress wore some variation of art deco-style gold-black-and-silver. And those dresses were heavy with beads, yet clingy at the same time. The Globes now carried on this new look for evening: down-played shapes, even sleeves (Olivia Wilde in Gucci, Gwyneth Paltrow) in colored beads that catch the light and show off the body. This means no miles of fabric or trains (looking less and less modern), and a modern take on nighttime that no woman should dismiss. A sequin or fully beaded dress that fits well and even clings a little is basically a hot number. First of all, it's hard to make beading that light. Beaded dresses used to weigh many pounds and prohibited movement. Look out, Grammys! There will be mini-versions -- and no doubt, micro. Silver was the hue for Michelle Dockery, Naomi Watts and Sarah Paulson, to name a few, and here's what we learned: Silver is really flattering on the skin under bright lights, and shine plays well with a nude lip and undone hair. If the dress has all the heat, keep everything else on a low burner -- this is good advice. Some of the more bright beading was on Drew Barrymore's red beads on nude Monique Lhuillier. Even Sally Hawkins' vintage Dior was smattered with lovely antique beading.
Amy Adams' red-and-burgundy Valentino halter definitely created a new plateau for evening wear. When one tone doesn't grab em, two definitely will. Sandra Bullock's Prabal Gurung pink-blue-black gown actually had three tones. Lawrence's white Dior dress was accented with black ribbon. There was a lot of slashes of another tone at the neck or the hem. How the tones play off each other -- in this case, contrast -- is where the drama is. Look for this at every awards show through the next Emmys at least, and at the upcoming Paris couture shows.
Just like the ubiquitous one-shouldered looks of years gone by, now we have asymmetry at the hemline (Caitlin FitzGerald, Michelle Dockery, Sandra Bullock). This is happening with day-length skirts as well. And you can bet the shoe designers are loving it! So are the trainers -- those legs have got to be worked to look like that. It's a fun -- yes, fun -- new look for black tie as it makes it a little less stiff and formal while still being incredibly festive. We're liking the playfulness. However, don't expect to see it at the Oscars -- it doesn't have enough gravitas.
There were essentially three ways to go: undone (Olivia Wilde, Naomi Watts, Reese Witherspoon) or super-sleek (Sandra Bullock, Emma Watson, Margot Robbie, Amy Adams, Mila Kunis) -- both runway looks from spring 2014 -- and then what we can affectionately refer to as "helmet head" -- very set and lacquered hair with lots of volume: Cate Blanchett's hair looked like something from a Versace ad circa 1985, and Jessica Chastain's locks were puffed up and heightened with spray at the roots. Is stiff porcelain-like hair back from the dead? Are those beachy waves finally going out to sea? Only the fall 2014 shows will tell us -- and the Oscars, of course. But if we see one more banana curl in piles of hair extensions -- we're going Jennifer Lawrence and Charlize Theron pixie.
Sure, there were a few red lips in play: Emma Watson, Sandra Bullock, and a few others. But mostly you could barely see the makeup. Sure, there were lashes and eyeliner and a bit of shine, but Anna Gunn, Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and almost every other actress had soft natural makeup on. After years of red lips, nude looks modern again -- and even beyond that -- it looks youthful.
Sorry, jewelry brands and designers -- most of the earrings were studs and the necklaces that did appear were small. No blazing 20-carat numbers, no chunky chandelier earrings. Jewelry, even at nighttime, is delicate, more personal, and the dress definitely is where the attention is going. Plus, the jewelry in many cases was actually on the dresses. Rings and earrings can't compete with that.
What does it all mean? It all comes down to modern -- and that evening clothes are getting a little more casual. Unstiff. Julia Roberts' Dolce & Gabbana gown was strapless over a crisp white shirt. It looks like evening is the new day -- and of course, day is the new evening, with higher heels and shorter, shinier skirts. But this is what comes of the fast world we all live in: with rarely ever enough time to change at night, we go to work in dressier clothes and go out in more casual ones. It's good designers finally caught up to our lives.