My major revelation about last night’s Oscar fashions didn’t hit me until I woke up this morning. What we saw, played out in very expensive designer gowns, was a battle between good and evil. Fashion was wrestling with itself, forcing the actresses/starlets who paraded down that red carpet to choose sides.
Let me explain.
Without a doubt, the most popular color spectrum for gowns was white/flesh/champagne/silver. Put some beads on it, cut one arm off, don a cape, have a cascading train, it was still that same color palette. A wide shot of the red carpet revealed men in black tuxes and then blurs of women who appeared to be naked, so close was the color of their gown to their skin tone.
The leader of the white pack was Gwyneth Paltrow, wearing a gown Princess Leia herself might choose for her big day. The white, strapless Tom Ford gown was complemented with a cape that draped regally from her shoulders and fell in a strict, straight line down her pilates-enhanced back.
Her gown and demeanor were like a breathe of fresh snow on the carpet, which is, after all, what we keep Gwyneth around for. It’s not her acting ability that we admire, it’s her ability to remind us that she is the ultimate 21st century Wasp, American but living the life of a wealthy Brit, and doing so much better than the rest of us.
Gwyneth would not, under any circumstances, do cocaine in the back of her limo. In fact, there is no doubt in my mind that she would admonish the limo driver for running a red light, or speeding, in order to get her to the ceremony on time. If one needed a tissue on the red carpet, one could have asked Gwynnie. Even if she didn’t have one, her handler surely would.
Gwyneth was not alone in her bid to appear on the right side of a rainbow. Joining her in Flesh For Fantasy was Jennifer Lopez (who couldn’t resist showing some skin, and maybe the edge of a nipple, in her gown), Cameron Diaz (whose arms, when she was presenting, looked like those of a longshoreman who spends a lot of time swinging heavy ropes), Rooney Mara, Kristen Wiig (champagne), Milla Jovovich, Octavia Spencer.
Women who did not embrace the white/flesh trend at least appeared demure in their gowns – Tina Fey (who looked excellent but was risking nothing in navy blue), Jessica Chastain, Sandy Bullock. Except for Meryl Streep who, in her gold lamÃ© number,Â looked as if she would flee to the disco the minute the ceremony ended in order to take up residence at “her table.”
There were outliers, to be sure. Three high-profile women came in red: Michelle Williams, Emma Stone and Natalie Portman. And there were some horrid green dresses in the mix.
But only one major star came in black – Angelina Jolie. And Jolie, contrasted with Gwyneth, is our real fashion story.
What a black dress it was! Cinched so tight at the waist it harkened back to days of the corset and the “wasp-waist,” the Atelier Versace dress was strapless, slitted up the front and full length. It was accentuated with her bright red lips (she wore no big, sparkling diamonds like every other woman there). Whenever she posed, she made sure that her (rather thin) bare right leg came right out the front slit for all to contemplate. [There is now a Twitter account @AngiesRightLeg that, by this morning, had 13,000 followers on the strength of 18 tweets.]
There could be little doubt that no undergarments were worn underneath it.
If made to stand next to Gwyneth, the study in contrasts would have been that of Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader. Jolie was slinky, slouchy and pouty where Paltrow was rigid, proper and demure. Angelina’s hair fell in a cascade down her shoulders, wild, free and ready for a romp. Gwyneth’s pale hair was held securely in place in a neat, low ponytail. Jolie’s red lips shouted. Gwyneth’s face seemed all but free of make-up, which it surely wasn’t, but many hours and much thought had gone into making it look as if it were.
But the color choices are perhaps the most telling. Jolie is clearly most comfortable in black, a color that speaks of elegance, yes, but that also speaks of mystery, danger and sexual sophistication. I don’t need to go into what white symbolizes but I’ll throw out a few words: purity, goodness, virginity, cleanliness, trustworthiness, etc.
Had the two women crossed paths, it would not have been surprising if Gwyneth drew out a light saber, or sword, and stood her ground against the advance of a dark, sexy minx in our midst who wanted nothing more than to make her way up the red carpet, into the Kodak Theater and, ultimately, into our hearts and minds.
The ultimate choice, though, comes down to each one of us – in fashion, and maybe in life, are you a Gwyneth or an Angie?
Oscar photos: Getty Images