What the Stars Will Wear to the Palm Springs Film Festival Gala This Weekend

Natalie Portman Palm Springs 2011

Last year, the Palm Springs Film Festival Gala opened awards season with a fashion bang - and we can expect likewise this year. After all, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, Octavia Spencer - and more than likely Angelina Jolie (Brad Pitt's being awarded) will sweep the carpet this weekend. But will they be wearing traditional red carpet gowns?

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Unlikely. They're going to save those gowns for the Globes and SAGS, and no designer worth his or her salt is going to part with an A list next season gown for an event that doesn't make television. Sure, the photos will be dispersed on the net around the world - but those tv ratings really do add up to something.

Last year, 2011, Natalie Portman wore a short Vionnet cocktail dress with white sheer sleeves, a gold metal neckline, and a black body - it was lovely, festive, chic - and not overtly formal. Same for Carey Mulligan, who attended last year: she wore a full skirted Prada dress with a tight waist and bodice, which came just to the knee. Social Network star Rashida Jones wore a Stella McCartney top with a black mini skirt. All unique looks of different silhouettes - but all on the short side.

We would not be surprised someone like Glenn Close, who's being honored this year, arrive in a black Armani tuxedo suit. Pants are actually a good option for Palm Springs -- dressy ones, anyway. Our prediction: cocktail dresses on the stars, NOT gowns - not yet. Hair down and styled. Not too much makeup (they've got to build up to that). Dresses on Chastain and Theron and Jolie from major designers (Oscar de la Renta, Dior, Vuitton, Lanvin, Armani Prive, Versace) from their resort or pre-fall collections - not from current spring 2012 and not from upcoming fall 2012, either. And - color. Black is stately and formal, and Palm Springs is the capital of pink and green, after all. Then the following week, these ladies will have to top themselves at the Critics Choice Awards on January 12 - so they've got to pace themselves. Hopefully, their stylists have all this worked out in advance. Natalie Portman's stylist Kate Young certainly had her act together last awards season. We can only hope for a red carpet wardrobe as beautiful as hers to turn up this year. And the good news is - Brad Pitt's name is on every list. That means we can count on Angelina this season.