Oscar frocks

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No fashion-conscious woman can ignore the Oscars, but what were the women over 40 wearing in 2008?

The truth is, finding coverage of a woman over 40 at the Oscars at all isn’t that easy, as the photographers train their lenses on younger women, but thankfully this year the over-60s brigade did us proud.

blog image blog imageHelen Mirren, of course, is always a standout. Mirren, now 63, has always had curves and usually chooses dresses with some volume to the skirt, that fit tightly to the bodice and cover her arms. This year was no exception as she took the floor in a gorgeous dark red silk number from Lebanese-born Paris couturier George Chakra. The gown’s Swarovski crystal sleeves were very unusual, like a built-in shrug, and a very useful idea for women who don’t want to display their upper arms. Right on the money, with all that glitter Mirren kept her makeup light and her other jewellery subdued (for all that it cost a million dollars).

Red was the primary colour of this year’s ceremony and was worn by old and young alike. Veteran actress Ruby Dee (right), up for best female supporting actress, looked radiant in a red goddess gown with matching jacket from Kevan Hall – note the thin belt, which is a completely up-to-the minute trend. Impossible to believe that this woman is 83 and a fantastic example of how style never goes out of fashion.

Julie Christie, in line for the best actress Oscar for her role in Away From Her, also chose red, but bucked the trend by wearing a short number in crinkled silk – the only actress on the red carpet to go short, as far as I’m aware. Again, she wore sleeves to cover the upper arm and – in this case – long pink suede gloves, which I don’t think quite ‘came off’ as a fashion statement. Christie’s hair, though, was utterly beautiful worn in a natural tousled style that belies her 67 years.

Other than red, most women opted for black or dark strapless goddess gowns in a year that was more elegant and less bling than we’re accustomed to seeing at the Oscars. Among the over-40s, Laura Linney was a good example, but there were a few other colours: Kelly Preston wore a lovely ochre number from Cavalli, while Calista Flockhart was subdued in mint-green vintage Valentino.

The biggest fashion faux pas, sadly, was from our very own Tilda Swinton, who did her androgynous beauty no favours with an enveloping black panne velvet gown from Lanvin. This simply overwhelmed her pale skin and elfin face and just goes to show that money, talent and a great design house don’t necessarily add up to a good look. Swinton, it strikes me, might benefit from a stylist for her public appearances, because she keeps getting caught on camera wearing very strange outfits and never looks comfortable – a great shame when she is so talented a performer.

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