Red carpet is a view askew

Stars are fashionably asymmetrical; bling 'is bigger than ever'

The big guns — Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet and Sean Penn among them — went with black at Sunday's Academy Awards, but light colors and asymmetrical gowns topped the broader fashion trends.

Jolie and Brad Pitt looked very much the part of the red carpet's golden couple at the Kodak Theatre in classic, almost retro styles. She wore a black sweetheart-neck strapless gown by Elie Saab, accessorized with green drop earrings, and he wore a classic bow tie.

Penn, in Giorgio Armani, also perfectly matched his wife, Robin Wright Penn. The next- generation supercouple was Vanessa Hudgens — in a black Marchesa gown with black and white tulle flowers on the bodice and dangling platinum, diamond and vintage coral earrings by Cathy Waterman — and Zac Efron, in Dolce & Gabbana.

Winslet also went with dark and sophisticated in a gray satin and black tulle dress by Atelier Yves Saint Laurent by Stefano Pilati. She looked "flawless," stylist Mary Alice Stephenson said. "Everything is right."

But Jolie, Stephenson added, was disappointing. "Angelina Jolie is always beautiful but boring and ho-hum in that black dress. It is just too drab, dour and depressing for the Oscars."

Leading the charge of light colors was Mickey Rourke in his Jean Paul Gaultier suit without a tie.

Anne Hathaway sparkled in a strapless champagne-colored Armani Prive gown covered in crystals and circular pailettes with a jeweled dragon brooch on the back. Evan Rachel Wood was in a strapless flesh-tone number, and Jessica Biel was in a sleek Prada strapless column gown in shiny white satin with a bow detail on the front.

Penelope Cruz wore a white 1950s Balmain gown, with a strapless neckline and hand embroidery with gold treads, that she got from top vintage curator Rita Watnick's Lily et Cie. Miley Cyrus' beaded Zuhair Murad dress was mostly white but had tiers of midnight-blue beaded petals.

"She looked old Hollywood," said Suze Yalof Schwartz, executive fashion editor at large for Glamour magazine. "It looked like something from the '40s — and it was on the youngest person there."

Alberta Ferretti put Meryl Streep in a light-gray empire-waisted gown for one of Streep's most stylish turns at the Oscars, which she so often frequents. "I couldn't believe how much white there was," designer Pamella Roland said. "Most times we're told that actresses want color … but I also was amazed how glamorous everyone was."

Marisa Tomei's one-shoulder dove-gray gown by Versace was covered with dramatic fan pleats.

Amy Adams went with a chunky Fred Leighton necklace — a colored gemstone-and-diamond bib from the 1950s — complementing a crimson bustier dress with black spider-web piping by Carolina Herrera.

"Even though we're in a recession, I've never seen as many luxurious fabrics on the red carpet," Schwartz said, "and the jewelry — the bling — is bigger than ever."

Sarah Jessica Parker wore a light-green strapless gown by Dior Couture with gold waves decorating the bodice, and Natalie Portman had gold beading on her orchid strapless gown by Rodarte.

Samantha Critchell is a fashion writer for the Associated Press.
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