A tasteful Oscar



If they follow the winds of fashion when getting dressed in the morning, they're congratulated for being so on-trend.

If they break away from the trendy and do something different, they're avant-garde.

Nowhere was that more obvious than at last week's Academy Awards. Gown after gorgeous gown on the red carpet either exemplified a trend or went against the grain -- and, for the most part, it all looked fabulous.

"I thought it was in very good taste, fashion-wise, this Oscar season," says Avril Graham, executive fashion and beauty editor for Harper's Bazaar. "I can honestly say I don't think there were any clunkers."

One major trend that showed itself time and time again: a rainbow of non-color colors.

This coming spring, fashion designers have gravitated to a soft, clean palette of whites, creams and nudes. We'll be wearing white sundresses and beige Bermuda shorts when the weather warms, but Hollywood's fashion-conscious starlets (in ever-warm Los Angeles) are wearing the trend already.

Jennifer Garner, Naomi Watts, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Carolina Kurkova and many others walked Sunday's red carpet in muted tones -- showing the importance of the trend. Some did it better than others.

Uma Thurman looked stunning, almost regal, in her flesh-toned Versace gown. Kidman's white column Balenciaga dress was absolutely beautiful, but she looked washed-out in it, and way too skinny. Watts' dress was the wrong color for her pale complexion and hair, and it looked unfinished. A dark-haired Garner, however, looked fantastic in a glittery Michael Kors gown the color of condensed milk.

But not every Hollywood actress strives to follow trends, especially those who know what looks best on their bodies.

That might explain why many actresses decided to take a step away from the flowing goddess dresses that have been so popular for so many seasons.

Sunday's red carpet was full of seriously structured gowns, with the kind of high-end construction that screams "couture," and forces the viewer to see the designer's hard work, not the actress' killer body.

Felicity Huffman wore an impeccably cut Zac Posen gown, with incredible angles. Keira Knightley's asymmetrical Vera Wang gown was an instant hit on the red carpet. Charlize Theron's geometrical Christian Dior was constructed to the hilt. Some liked it, some didn't, but at least Theron skipped the much-easier-to-wear, diaphanous slip dress and scored just for taking a risk.

Jada Pinkett Smith's electric blue Roberto Cavalli gown was expertly done, and popped with color. Hilary Swank in Versace, Sandra Bullock in Angel Sanchez and Queen Latifah in Carmen Marc Valvo, all chose very tailored, very structured looks -- and may have just ushered in a new trend by doing so.

"The red carpet had gotten very predictable," says Katrina Szish, style editor for US Weekly. "Oh, there's another goddess chiffon dress. I liked it that these were not."


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