Nothing competes with the Oscars. 2021’s awards season may have pivoted towards virtual ceremonies, pre-recorded appearances, and at-home fashion moments, but the Academy Awards felt like a return to form. An entirely in-person event conducted at dual venues to adhere to COVID-19 safety precautions, it brought out the stars in a way we haven’t seen in more than a year. Just as Golden Age stars used their on-screen personas to bring fantasy to viewers during difficult times, last nights’s guests seemed intent on restoring the elegance once synonymous with the big screen.
The night’s nominees and presenters all went the extra mile. The looks glittered thanks to the hand-crafted details designer ateliers put into each piece and the trend towards high gloss style. The drama of Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino spring/summer 2021 Haute Couture collection came to the carpet via Promising Young Woman star Carey Mulligan’s larger-than-life iridescent gown decked out in pearls and sequins. Director Regina King shone in a custom Louis Vuitton dress designed by Nicolas Ghesquière and covered with the most Swarovski crystals the brand has ever used within a single garment.
The fashions were united by the sense of grandeur that has defined the event for decades. Each star had their way of approaching the concept of “Oscars dressing,” but all honored the spirit of the ceremony. Already versed in Golden Age fashion thanks to her plum part as O.G. it-girl Marion Davies in Mank, Amanda Seyfried dazzled in crimson Armani Privé pleats that curved into the shape of a flower petal. Equally alluring the disco-glamour of Zendaya’s custom fluorescent yellow silk chiffon Valentino look. Accessorized to the hilt with more than six million dollars worth of Bulgari gems it was an outré Oscars moment worthy of Cher.
The bar for menswear continues to be raised thanks to expressive stars like Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom star Coleman Domingo whose hot pink Atelier Versace look enlivened the carpet. Likewise, the unstoppable cuteness of Minari’s Alan Kim, whose Thom Browne tux was the most adorable look of the evening, was uplifting.
After a tumultuous year where even seeing a movie in a theater was nearly impossible, the spectacle of the Oscars took on a different meaning. Several months ago, the idea of celebrities parading around in expensive clothes would have been inappropriate. But as the world slowly reopens, a collective nostalgia has kicked in. It will be a long time before the non-stop schedule of step-and-repeats and fancy parties returns and the sight of a room filled with actors smiling in designer fashion is a regular occurrence. In the interim, there is beauty to be found in the new, adapted versions of perennial events. If 2021’s parade of smartly dressed Oscar attendees proves anything, it’s that glamour can still feel extraordinary and transportive.
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Carey Mulligan in Valentino
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Halle Berry in Dolce & Gabbana
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Youn Yuh-jung and Han Yeri in Louis Vuitton
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Viola Davis in Alexander McQueen
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Zendaya in Valentino
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Amanda Seyfried in Armani Privé
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Regina King in Louis Vuitton
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Alan Kim in Thom Browne and Christina Oh
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Celeste in Gucci
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Angela Bassett in Alberta Ferretti
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Riz Ahmed in Prada and Fatima Farheen Mirza in Valentino
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Colman Domingo in Atelie Versace
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LaKeith Stanfield in Saint Laurent
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Olivia Colman in Dior Haute Couture
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Margot Robbie in Chanel
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