Monica Corcoran Harel is contributing to Deadline’s Oscar coverage.
Never mind “Who are you wearing?” When the economy of the Red Carpet at the Oscars could rival the GNP of Zanzibar, the real question tonight should be: “Why are you wearing…?”
In certain cases, the answer is elementary. Jennifer Lawrence showed up in a voluminous pink confection by Dior because she’s the face of the brand’s Miss Dior handbags. (People magazine even predicted that she might wear this gown almost two weeks beforehand.) In fact, the notoriously raw Lawrence — who admitted to Ryan Seacrest that she couldn’t define “haute couture” at the recent Golden Globes — didn’t say that her dress was designed by some dude in Paris. Rather, she pronounced the French term for high fashion with staged aplomb. Someone at Dior probably said, “cut the merde” to her or we won’t cut another check.
Charlize Theron, the face of the house’s J’Adore perfume since 2004, arrived tonight in a Dior Haute Couture gown too, natch. She reportedly makes about $2 million per year to hawk the fragrance — and presumably, wear the pretty dresses too. Tough job.
Of course, stars have long been loyal to designers. Audrey Hepburn favored the frothy frocks of Hubert de Givenchy for 40 years; the couturier even served as a pallbearer for the spritely actress in 1993. Bob Mackie once called Cher his “big Barbie doll” — especially when he outfitted her in a two-foot feathered headdress for the 1986 Oscars. But back in those days, the relationships crested more on affinity than currency.
Now, money talks — or whispers — and walks down the red carpet. Though no one will speak on the record about the specifics of these deals, it’s safe to say that a nominee could easily pocket six figs for wearing a few yards of fabric. I sincerely hope that Helen Hunt received a fat stock package from H&M for wearing her midnight blue column dress that wrinkled up in all the wrong places. Kerry Washington opted for Miu Miu, which she wore to the Golden Globes as well, so there may be a partnership percolating there too.
Related: OSCARS: Red Carpet Is Fashion’s Runway
Speaking of contracts, I fully expected to see Jessica Chastain in Yves Saint Laurent since it was just announced that she would front their new fragrance, Manifesto. Instead, the redhead wore a copper silk satin strapless Armani Prive with a mesh overlay of white sequins and crystals. But even more surprising was Anne Hathaway’s eleventh-hour choice to wear a simple, pink Prada gown with a pair of pronounced darts in the bodice that made her boobs the butt of many jokes. (#LesNipplerables quickly started trending.) Hours beforehand, Valentino’s PR team put out word that they had scored primo placement on the Les Mis actress. Awkward. Especially since Mr. Valentino designed Hathaway’s wedding dress last fall and she and the czar of fashion were spotted skiing together in Gstaad last month.
This year’s designer victors include Carolina Herrera’s liquid gold gown for Renee Zellweger and Versace, which brought us the delicious art deco-inspired delights worn by Jane Fonda and Halle Berry. But Giorgio Armani wins the Most Supported Designer Award, hand’s down. Naomi Watts, Chastain, and Quvenzhane Wallis all wore standout pieces from the design house. Hathaway even donned an Armani Prive tiered gown with rhinestones for her performance during the ceremony. That tallies to an unprecedented four female nominees! Certainly, a coup for the designer who first started the red carpet trend of fashion houses dressing celebrities for the Oscars back in 1990.
What They Wore
Jennifer Lawrence — Dior Haute Couture gown with Chopard jewels
Jessica Chastain — Armani Prive column gown with geometric bodice and Harry Winston vintage jewels
Anna Hathaway — Prada pale pink column gown with a $485,000 Tiffany & Co. necklace
Adele — Black long sleeved Jenny Packham gown and $1 million dollar diamond cluster earrings by Harry Winston
Helen Hunt — H&M satin gown with $700,000 worth of Martin Katz jewelry
Zoe Saldana — Alexis Mabille Couture belted gown with embellished bodice
Sandra Bullock — Elie Saab tiered and beaded gown with Harry Winston diamond studs, brooch and ring
Jennifer Garner — Magenta Gucci gown with a total of $2.5 million worth of platinum and diamond jewelry by Neil Lane, including a 200-carats necklace
Amanda Seyfried — custom purple Alexander McQueen halter gown with platinum and diamond earrings by Lorraine Schwartz
Kerry Washington — Miu Miu coral and embellished bodice gown with Fred Leighton nine-carat diamond ring.
Octavia Spencer — Tadashi Shoji tulle one-shoulder gown with Lorraine Schwartz jewels
Reese Witherspon — Louis Vuitton cobalt-blue gown with Vuitton jewels
Nicole Kidman — L’Wren Scott black and gold gown