Understated glitz adds quiet sparkle to Oscar night


The 65th annual Academy Awards ceremony last night was the glitziest evening of the year, with an estimated billion people watching to see what the royals and the renegades of the film industry were wearing.

It was, however, glitz without color or flash.

The evening was virtually unrelieved by bright color, starting with master of ceremonies Billy Crystal in black tie, black shirt and black tails, which he described as "Armani meets Jiminy Cricket."

The anticipated glamour was still there, but considerably toned down. Where is Bob Mackie when you need him? The king of sequins, who made Cher's navel the post-Oscar breakfast conversation in the '80s, has been dethroned in the fashionably and politically correct '90s.

The entire chorus of the "Aladdin" production number "Whole New World" didn't add up to the sequins and glitter of a Bob Mackie dress in his heyday.

The new understated elegance could perhaps be blamed on the Italian taste maestros who have seduced the Hollywood greats into getting rid of their bugle beads.

The Armani and Valentino camps were out in force last night. Armani dressed the heavy-hitting men and the newest divas. Valentino outfitted the legends, such as Sophia Loren, who looked fabulous in black and silver lace.

No matter what the designer, black seemed to be the shade for the night.

Geena Davis looked positively '40s drop-dead gorgeous in a black column with a deep crescent cutout on her bosom.

Oscar-statuesque Anjelica Huston was impressive in a black column sheath with a trumpet hem and a plunging V-neckline.

Barbra Streisand floated onstage in a long-sleeved, off-the-shoulder black velour gown.

Glenn Close was yet another who wore black, with a handsome lace suit that covered most of her, unlike many of the other stars who revealed more than a little cleavage.

Liza Minnelli was covered from head to toe by her buddy, designer Donna Karan, in a long black vest, black bell bottoms and flounced white blouse.

In another spectrum were the pales -- silvers, champagne and whites. Marisa Tomei, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, contrasted a demure white strappy frock with vampy black gloves.

Susan Sarandon slithered on stage in a silverfish slink and an almost out-of-control lacquered 'do.

Sharon Stone was '30s silver-screen polished in a champagne satin halter dress designed especially for her by Vera Wang. (Vera Wang knows how to make dresses move in public. She also designed the skating dresses for Olympics champion Nancy Kerrigan.)

Out of sync with the rest of the stars was Jane Fonda, who sported aggressive gold buttons on a super-tight, white military-inspired gown. Diane Keaton also clashed with the occasion, looking as if she were dressed for a stroll in the park, in a cream beret, coat, vest, and trousers. She just can't get past Annie Hall.

The standout colors for the night were seen on Best Actress Emma Thompson, who wore seafoam green, Catherine Deneuve pink feathers, and Elizabeth Taylor in lavender eyes to-die-for and a yellow scalloped Valentino.

The most significant color of the evening was the red AIDS ribbon, which was pinned to tuxedos and gowns alike.

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