OSCARS: Who Wore What On Red Carpet

Monica Corcoran Harel is contributing to Deadline’s Oscar coverage.

Meryl Streep Red CarpetUnlike monotonous years past when a color or style prevailed, tonight’s Academy Awards Red Carpet teemed with extremes. Actresses either went strapless and exposed chiseled clavicles or opted for demure long sleeves. Some coerced their hair into crazy Cinnabon updos, while others played it loose with windswept, just-got-lucky-in-the-limo waves. All in all, it was a good night for fashion. Meryl Streep channeled a female Oscar in gold lame Lanvin, Rooney Mara didn’t wear black and Sacha Baron Cohen claimed to be wearing “Galliano with socks from K-Mart.”

When it came to color, a majority went white — a hue the costume designer Edith Head once said “can be gay or somber.” In the case of 20-year-old Shailene Woodley in a mod Valentino Couture gown, the look was a bit matronly and Babe Paley circa 1960 for such a dewy star. Gwyneth Paltrow, whose bright white Tom Ford column gown with an architectural duster stood out like spilled milk, looked bright and awake. Rooney Mara, however, seemed more like a Tim Burton Goth bride in her Givenchy dress with a bondage-style back and transparent train.

Natalie Portman Oscar DressRed, too, made a strong showing thanks to Natalie Portman, Emma Stone and Michelle Williams. Portman’s vintage polka-dotted Christian Dior gown was charming, though the hem was slightly wrinkled. (Shouldn’t limos come equipped with steamers?) Stone’s scarlet Giambattista Valli — embellished with a toaster-sized bow on the left shoulder — had critics hissing that it was too redolent of the Balenciaga dress Nicole Kidman wore to the 2007 Oscars. Oh, stop. Doesn’t Hollywood make the same movies every year? Williams, ever the gamine, looked great in that coral Louis Vuitton with a sweet peplum waist that gave her some curves.

Green, which is not an easy color to pull off, worked for Viola Davis. Her emerald Vera Wang popped against her burnished skin and was fitted at the hips like a coat of latex paint. Unfortunately, Berenice Bejo’s mint Elie Saab made her look slightly seasick. Glenn Close went with an iridescent shade of dark green in a super cool Zac Posen gown with matching tuxedo jacket that felt both youthful and old Hollywood.

Jennifer Lopez Oscars DressWith so many strapless gowns and fitted bodices, cleavage hardly got its due. Would a boatload of A-list boobs get horny 14-year-old boys to put down the Xbox and tune in, I wonder? Thankfully, Jennifer Lopez pulled out all the stops in a sequined Zuhair Murad that was slightly tacky — think sexiest mom at the Bar Mitzvah — and showy with a dangerous neckline. Davis sported what I like to call the applauding cleavage, with her breasts pressed together in a peek-a-boo bodice.

But it was the big girls who stole the show this year. Octavia Spencer gets my vote for best dressed in her gorgeously draped Tadashi Shoji with an ultra flattering sequined starburst at the waistline and foxy train. Note to plus-sized women: Tadashi Shoji should be your new best friend. He can cut for ladies who really lunch and his designs are always classy and well constructed. Melissa McCarthy also looked stunning in a dusky rose Marina Rinaldi with fluttering sleeves and jeweled collar and waistline.

Did anyone else miss Tilda Swinton?


Oscars Red Carpet 2012Octavia Spencer
Beaded Tadashi Shoji gown with platinum and diamond briolette chandelier earrings (20 carats) by Neil Lane.

Penelope Cruz
Organza Armani Prive gown in periwinkle blue with Platinum and pear-shape diamond necklace (56 carats) by Chopard.

Michelle Williams
Coral strapless Louis Vuitton with a peplum waist.

Melissa McCarthy
Dusky rose Marina Rinaldi with flutter sleeves and jeweled embellishments.


Sandra Bullock
Ill-fitted black and white Marchesa dress with gold embroidery.

Stacy Keibler
Complicated Gold lame Marchesa with a giant rosette on the hip. Looked great on the runway, but not so much on the red carpet.

Shailene Woodley
Mod but not so youthful soft white Valentino Couture. Platinum and diamond wire drop earrings by Harry Winston.

Rooney Mara
Givenchy white gown with conceptual bodice and bondage-style back. Platinum and diamond ring with a miniature portrait circa 1910 by Fred Leighton.


Angelina Jolie
Black sexpot Versace dress with Jessica Rabbit-worthy side slit and asymmetrical neckline. Neil Lane gems.

Viola Davis
Emerald green Vera Wang gown with crystal appliqué on fitted bodice and pleated skirt.

Gwyneth Paltrow
Stoic Tom Ford column gown with a matching duster jacket in snow white.

Jennifer Lopez
Sequined racy Zuhair Murad with cutout sleeves and a plunging neckline. Lorraine Scwartz gems.

Emma Stone
Scarlet chiffon Giambattista Valli with a huge bow on the shoulder and pleated skirt.

Jessica Chastain
Black and gold strapless Venetian-esque McQueen with full skirt.

Cameron Diaz
Antique white Gucci column with a shirred and sequined skirt and tight, sporty bodice. Platinum and emerald-cut diamond necklace by Tiffany & Co.

Natalie Portman
Vintage sweet Christian Dior red gown with black polka dots and full skirt. Platinum and diamond v-shaped cluster necklace by Harry Winston.

Rose Byrne
Hotter than Hades black sequined Vivienne Westwood with open back and Chanel jewels.

Tina Fey
Simple and smart midnight blue custom Carolina Herrera with a peplum flair at the waist. Platinum earrings with sixteen oval cut blue sapphires (47.36 carats) and sixteen mixed shape emeralds (2.94 carats) by Bulgari.

Kristen Wiig
Taupe strapless J. Mendel with a shirred skirt. Platinum and diamond chandelier earrings by Neil Lane.

(Photos: Getty Images) 

  1. The best part of any award show is seeing what everybody is wearing. No particular gown stood out but then I didn’t see anything that would fit the hidious category either. Tina Fey, she looks so much better with makeup. In years past especially at the Emmys she would have these nice gowns, her hair done nicely but no makeup. Thank goodness she has seen the light! Whoever suggested she listen to the short nosy lady telling her to put on makeup was right, I thank you! As a whole this years crowd did a good job. Some needed to brush their hair, what is with that windblown, messy look, do they save on time by not doing their hair? Angelina gets prettier as she ages but she really needs to gain a few pounds. Skin and bones. That high slit would have been more effective with a less bony leg. Somebody give her a hamburger and shake or at least make her eat. How does she keep up with all those kids? I liked J Lo’s gown and did not see the wardrobe malfunction, Cameron looked nice except for her hair. It is too short and too blunt and again messy. Maybe they go through Lompoc on their way to the show. It gets super windy there. Melissa and Octavia both looked very elegant especially Octavia. I would not have changed a thing and her winning, well that made watching the show worth it. I love when you see those truly emotional, not overly done award winners. She seemed to really speak from her heart. It’s nice to see Oscar still means something special. Oh to be able to go back to the 1930’s glamour. Men in top hats and canes, the women in diamonds, furs and ever so beautiful gowns, driving up to the red carpet in those beautiful limos. I loved all that glitz and glamour. There is no such thing as too much sparkle. To sum it up, Hollywood did a good job in the wardrobe department. They seemed to have fun glamming up. This world needs more sparkle and shine. More smiles. Congratulations to all…

  2. jeez, you’d think Jolie would have at least one person within her circle being honest with her.

    she looked pale, gaunt and malnourished.

    1. She didn’t just look pale, gaunt, and malnourished. She is pale, gaunt, and malnourished.

      I think she’s a terrifically effective actress. As to looks, I don’t get what so many people see in her.

    2. And, television makes one appear heavier. Truly, Angelina does not look healthy, and her arms are so thin.

      Do not recall seeing Angelina look this way even in the height of her ‘crazy’ days with Billy Bob.

      Hope whatever this is…she can get it fixed. She is a great actress, humanitarian and mom.

  3. Are you kidding? Stacey Keibler worse dressed? She was one of the best – she was George’s own Oscar statuete doll? What are you drinking?

    I thought Jessica Chastain was marvelous as well and I love Natalie Portman’s dress.

    Don’t understand everyone gushing about Violia Davis – she looked ok at some other shows but this was just horrible.

    1. Agree completely about Stacey Keibler’s gown. All I can guess is that many of these gowns look different in person than they photograph, since there is a photograph of Keibler that is breathtaking. By contrast, one of your picks for best gown (Melissa McCarthy’s) looked, at least in a photograph, shockingly unflattering. Hopefully, in real life, it looked as lovely as she does.

    2. I love Viola Davis. She is a beautiful woman and a fine actress. So glad to see actresses go with their natural locks, but Viola’s hair appeared to have been dyed red which next to her gorgeous mahogany skin tone was garish. Add the kelly green dress, and she came off looking costumish, like the Joker. Would love to have seen her natural hair in a more flattering color and her dress in a softer tone to complement her beautiful coloring.

  4. Speaking as a film maker, it was said to see the Oscars look so boring.

    Seriously, the head decision maker first puts the extreme of the two young actors last year and then when Bret Ratner is off they go with the TO safe Billy Crystal. Love Billy, but been there seen that. Nothing new or fresh.

    Bret Ratner repeated a silly joke that Eddie Murphy made in his stand up routine and the Oscars producers ruined it all by taking it literally. They are stupidddddddddddd as it gets. Look behind the true meaning of the joke and don’t make him a scape goat.

    They didn’t even give it a few days to try and get Eddie Murphy back. Half the country was sitting there thinking, “This is boring, if only the stand up of Eddie Murphy was there.”

    The Producers have no one to blame but themselves for having such a weak Oscars.

    Bring back the GREATEST STAND UP COMEDIAN OF ALL TIME: Eddie Murphy and perhaps have Jerry Bruckheimer produce the next one.

    I will always watch The Academy Awards since I work in the Industry, it was just said that today’s show turned out to be the most boring awards show of the year.

    1. eddie is way past his prime…u r clueless…good riddance…billy has his faults but he is leagues above what is left of eddie.

  5. More importantly. Who cares? Asks those overpaid underperforming actresses how much they paid for their flocks. It is disgusting any actress or actor borrowing clothes for the red carpet. Enough of the marketing opt for fashion designers and the multi-national conglomerates behind the brands. This is America where jeans, khakis and cargo shorts reign supreme. A borrowed Christian Dior, Versace or Giorgio Armani Prive gown – really starlets? Have a dress costumed created for your Red Carpet Entrance. If we’ve already seen it on the catwalk & runway – THEN it is NOT a good look! Get a Stylist not a Personal Shopper/Borrower.

  6. Leave it to attention-whore JLo to try to steal the spotlight from the true stars of the night: the winners and nominees. Has she even been in a movie lately? She needs to go away. She was never a great actress and she has no place at the Oscars.


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