Oscar frocks 2009

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This year’s Oscars saw a welcome return to grown-up glamour on the red carpet.

Anne HathawayA little late, but I thought I’d do it anyway and mention the Oscar frocks.

Sadly, I was too knackered to stay up to watch – the whole thing doesn’t even start until half past midnight my time.

Choosing a frock for the Oscars is always a difficult decision. The gown has to look good in photos in thumbnail, at a distance, in close-up and in half-length (witness this uber-perfect example worn by Anne Hathaway, which perfectly frames her face and shoulders).

An Oscar gown needs a good silhouette and should preferably be in a colour that stands out agains the red carpet and against the ubiquitous black tuxes worn by the men. And it should be as glamorous as hell. 

Amanda SeyfriedOverall this year the frocks were surprisingly ladylike for Hollywood – far more grown-up than usual, with a lot less flesh on show, which is always a relief. Sex appeal does NOT lie is showing as much of yourself as humanly possible and these 1930s-1950s inspired gowns with their draping and pleating have far more elegance. This red example is worn by Amanda Seyfried. 

There was also a lot less bling – presumably Hollywood’s nod to the recession – and instead of tons of diamond jewellery, most women opted for glittery frocks instead (again, Hathaway was a perfect example). 

Rachel Evans WoodAlicia KeysIn contrast to last year, when red was the order of the day, the most popular colours this year were white, ivory, champagne and nude, as seen here on Rachel Evans Wood, though there was the usual sprinkling of black (not a good colour for the red carpet) and some zingingly bright colours such as this pink worn by Alicia Keys.

Penelope CruzMarisa TomeiThere was lots of straplessness and structure (a bit more structure might have been in order in Sarah Jessica Parker’s case, as her boobs looked like they were about to make a quick exit) but the most successful dresses were those with some skirt silhouette, such as Penelope Cruz’s vintage gown by Balmain, and perhaps most notably Marisa Tomei’s fantastic grey dress by Versace, which besides its wonderful pleating was bang up to date with its fishtail skirt and one-shoulder detail. 

Freida PintoKate WinsletThe one-shoulder look didn’t always come off, though. Freda Pinto’s dress by Galliano looked frankly bizarre to me and is a colour that wears her rather than her it. And poor Kate Winslet looks positively hefty in her shiny YSL jobby – but then this beautiful woman is often poorly served by her clothes. 

Speaking of poorly served, Sophia Loren’s stylist should be looking for a new job for stuffing her into the frilly monstrosity below (though the net sleeves – almost invisible in this photo – are a great solution for ageing skin). Meryl Streep’s choice does nothing for her either – far too nun-like and would have benefited from a bit of bling. 

Meryl Streep and Sophia LorenBeyonceHeidi KlumHowever, the biggest disaster is probably Beyonce’s black and gold number – really, what WAS she thinking with this? It makes her look vast. And Heidi Klum equally missed the zeitgest – very unusual for a model – in an oversexy, overglitzy red number with fetish high heels – more 1980s than 2009. 

Miley CyrusTilda SwintonThe most beautiful gown was probably Tomei’s but personally, my favourite was that worn by Miley Cyrus, in which she looks as cute as a 16-year-old ought to – it also had all the right elements: waist detail, nude colouring, sequin decoration. And for once I’ll give a nod to Tilda Swinton. Swinton, who has a very distinctive style, usually makes very intellectual choices with her gowns and they are too understated to come off on camera, but this so-demure-it’s-hardly-there nude blouse and black skirt by Lanvin are so 1930s chic that I think she got away with it this time. The red lips make all the difference.   

For a gallery of 66 celebs on the red carpet, visit the Daily Telegraph

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