Every year for the Oscars instead of doing my usual ‘Rate the Dress’ post I turn the tables and give my rating of all the best and the worst of the Oscars fashions. This year is no exception. So you’ll have to wait one more week for the final rating on Mister Embellishment.
As always, I’ll start with my favourite dress of the year. I think you may be a bit surprised.
Yes, Fan Bingbing, I have no idea who you are, and I’d never in a million years wear your dress, and technically by all my rules that is a hideous frock, but it was the perfect dress for you. Right colour for you, right makeup, right hair, you’ve got the figure to pull off the ‘just shove a bunch of fabric on her, pin it wherever you can and call it good‘ school of haute couture, and something about your smile makes me think you have a sense of humour about the dress. It’s so right, and so not boring, that it is the only adult dress that instantly made me smile. With this in mind, I’ll even forgive you that hideous clutch. 10 out of 10.
You know who wore a gorgeous dress, but in the wrong colour? Jessica Chastaine. I know! Again! This photograph is the most flattering, but the dress is really halfway between her hair and skin, and that’s just not a good look. On a brunette or a darker auburn? Fabulous! As it is? 7 out of 10, and that’s being generous.
You know who else totally flopped for all the same reasons as last year? Melissa McCarthy. Terrible, terrible colour on her, terrible, terrible hair, looks like she couldn’t be convinced to take her sweatpants off, so they just draped a bunch of sweatpant jersey around her, stuck huge broaches to pull it in, and called it good. 2 out of 10 (and that’s only because there are two dresses that are so astonishingly more appalling that this couldn’t be a 1).
The dress that was so much more horrible? Brace yourself. Avert your eyes those of delicate constitutions.
Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Maybe her hoard of puppies attached it as she went out the door, causing that shredding at the bottom and pulling it halfway off her top? Or is that the rare newspaper butterfly nesting for the winter on the hem, and she was afraid she would disturb them if she tugged it up any further? At least the rest of the internet agreed with me that the dress was, well, not good. 1 out of 10 not good, and that’s only ’cause I don’t give 0s.
Numer two ghastly dress is Kelly Rowland’s black and white number. At least it knows to be ashamed of itself. The poor frock is so distressed to be seen in public that it is literally trying to pull itself off her and crawl away. Even the shoes are trying to be invisible, and her hair is distancing itself from the frock as much as possible. One minute more and a whole herd of little black satin frock toes will be scampering off into the darkest corner, while a white scarf blows off in the breeze. I imagine frock toes look a little like Luggage toes….
The thought of frock toes amused me so much that I’ll give this dress an extra half a point, for 1.5 out of 10.
A dress that everyone else savaged, but I really loved, is Anne Hathaway’s barely pink frock. Yes, it does say “My nipples are here. Right here. In the normal spot on my chest. Both of them. Just where they should be. In case you were wondering.” But it does so in a very witty, non-sexual way, and the dress is so classic while still being quite unexpected. It reminds me of an Egyptian statue. I’m a fan (except for that hem. What is wrong with that hem? Was she too tall for the dress, and did they have to let out the proper hem and do a terrible one at the last minute?). 8 out of 10.
I’m also a fan of Stacey Keibler’s gunmetal and silver studded dress. Very Art Deco, in a very modern way. Her hair is a bit odd though, and silver isn’t the best colour for her (or me, or most dark blonds). 8.5 out of 10 for being the best of the extremely beaded metallic dresses on the carpet.
Almost as good is Catherine Zeta-Jones in her golden metallic beaded number. It’s a better colour on her, but the way the beading turns into curliques at the bottom is a bit twee and literal. It looks like the designer got bored and let his 11 year old design the bottom of the gown. 8 out of 10.
At least it isn’t as bad as Nicole Kidman’s frock, which looks like it was entirely designed by the same 11 year old in the two month gap between her loving Barbie and sparkles, and going all rebellious and goth. It must be the goth influence that let Nicole not to brush her hair and leave it falling all over her face. 5.5 out of 10.
Speaking of Goth, I think someone needs to have a talk with Tabitha Coffey about her Revenge addiction. The opening sequence dress just doesn’t quite work as a literal number, and the gloves just make me think of James Herriot books and cows having breech deliveries and prolapsed uteruses, and I suspect that’s the nicest thing the gloves could remind you of. 2 out of 10
Need to think of something happy. Last year I loathed the eco-fashion number on the red carpet, but this year the two eco options I saw were quite pretty. I love that Helen Hunt just wore a high street H&M frock – she looks great it in, and it’s a fabulous colour on her. 7 out of 10 for being different, without the dress yelling about it.
I was prepared to love everything about the other eco-frock, Naomi Harrises goldenrod and chamomile dyed number (though you can achieve much better yellows with those dyes), and then I scrolled down.
That slit ruins what could have been an amazing dress, cheapening it and dropping it 3 whole points, down to a 6 out of 10.
Speaking of cheapening, never has so much fabric looked so tawdry. The real problem is the bad orange spray tan, but the ice skater beaded flames aren’t helping. And remember when I said that black isn’t universally flattering? Yep. Chenoworthy is the perfect example. That black is just duller her skin and making her look grey. 3 out of 10.
Samantha Barks, however, looks so good in black that she turns what could be a slutty or boring dress into the picture of elegance. I don’t think she picked the right necklace though. 6.5 out of 10.
Jennifer Aniston, on the other hand, almost always picks black, and almost always looks boring in it, so it was such a relief to see her in a colour, and so much of it, and so exciting a colour!
Pity she couldn’t have arranged to have the dress fit properly, or found 5 minutes to put her hair up. Long, lank hair + ballgown, just not working here. And it isn’t the best colour on her. Also, is it just me or does her dress have a teeny-tiny lady-pocket right where a, umm, lady-pocket goes? 4 out of 10 for the bottom half of the outfit (not counting lady-pocket).
If I’m going to take points away for bad fit, I suppose I should give credit for good fit. Maria Menunos’s dress is boring, her hair is Barbie, and the pink is a bit, well, pink, but the fit is impeccable! And at least it isn’t nude tulle. 6 out of 10
There was a LOT of nude tulle on the carpet (there has been a lot in recent years on all red carpet. What’s with that). As far as I am concerned there is really only one person who looks good in nude tulle:
Yep. 8 year olds (or however old Fatima Ptacek is) can pull the nude tulle look off! It’s the perfect little girl on the red carpet look. She looks like she is playing dress-up in mommy’s clothes, but it works. It’s adorable. 9 out of 10.
Little girls have an advantage on the red carpet. They can wear the boringest dress ever, but all they have to do is bring a stuffed toy handbag, and their outfit shoots into the stratosphere of fabulous.
This does not work for adults. Still, if you are Quvenzhane Wallises age, 8 out of 10 (it has to be less than Fatima, because it really is a boring dress).
Right. Now lets talk about some of the dresses that are getting really good reviews across the fashion world. Hmmm…Halle Berry. I saw it, I stopped, I thought about it, decided I liked it, looked at it some more, noticed the stripes holding together the super plunging neckline, and liked it a lot less. They take it from awesome modern take on 1940s does futuristic space-age late Art Deco, to try-hard sexy. What tiny things can trip up a dress. If they had been filled in, and echoed the horizontal stripes a the sides? Amazing. The stretchy sleeves and rooster hair are also bugging me. 7 out of 10 for so much potential.
On the other hand, never for a moment did I like Reese Whitherspoon’s dress. All I see when I look at it is hips. Massive, disproportionate hips. Now, Reese does not have massive, disproportionate hips. Clearly the dress was meant to give the illusion of a tiny waist, but it backfired, and just gave the illusion of making everything else bigger. The fit’s not fantastic either, and I’m over the black and blue. It’s been done to death. 4 out of 10.
I’ve not heard a peep about Olivia Munn’s dress, but I love it. Great colour for her, and the ‘use a big skirt to make the person look tiny’ illusion is working perfectly. 9.5 out of 10. It’s everything that Chastain’s dress last year wasn’t.
Speaking of which, Sally Field’s dress this year is everything that Jane Seymore’s dress last year wasn’t, but in the worst possible way. Last year I criticised Jane in her red dress for doing mutton dressed as lamb, so Sally tried to avoid that by going for the most covered up, old, frumpy version of red possible. If the layers of gathering over the nude, the high neckline, 1840’s inspired front gather, and the long, wrinkly sleeves, weren’t enough, she had to add rows and rows of lampshade ruffles to the skirt. And red, especially over nude, isn’t even a good colour for her, 3 out of 10.
OK, I’m running out of steam. Last tw quickies.
Zoe Saldana. Just no. Pick one idea and go with it. I know you liked the dress with the layered hem, and the belted dress, and the dress with the bow, and the dress with the beaded neckline, but the solution to your decision was not to combine them. 2 out of 10
At least she was actually wearing her dress though. I don’t think Kirsten Stewart was wearing hers. I think she showed up in something so horrible they had to photoshop this on to hide it, and they must have been in a hurry because it’s a crap photoshop job. Look, the bodice has no relationship to her torso, and there are all sorts of bad bleeds hanging out of the dress from the original background. 1.5 out of 10
So, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Did I leave your favourite dress out, or worst yet, diss it?