Be inspired by these luscious Oscar dresses

THE problem with the Oscars is that the razzle dazzle of the red carpet fizzles all too quickly once everyone is indoors and the awards actually start up. The speeches often go on too long and say too little, there are all those unglamorous, more minor awards (I don’t know about you, but I struggle to sit with rapt attention while the nominees for Best Sound Mixing and Best Live Action Short Film are called out) and by the time the exciting prizes (and exciting winners) are announced, I am generally asleep.

Or I would be, but for the fashion. The dresses at the Oscars are more riveting a spectacle for most women, I’ll wager, than those seen on the runways at Fashion Week. We feel we’re seeing people we know, namely our favourite actors who we have seen in all kinds of getups thanks to the 24-hour nature of gossip, dolled up in clothes we can only dream about wearing.?It’s worth staying up to see how these dresses fare from the excitement of the red carpet to the solemnity of the march up to the lectern, to the post-awards party circuit.

This year boasted plenty of treats, with voluptuousness celebrated more than in recent years. Actresses from Demi Moore to Penelope Cruz went for tight, strapless, colurful gowns that absolutely screamed “I am a woman” – there were far fewer of those minimalist, unisex-style numbers we’ve seen in recent years.?Mariah Carey went too far perhaps with her breasty Valentino dress, but to see the sometimes boyish Cameron Diaz cloaked in a sweeping, glittering Armani gown was quite refreshing.?Up In The Air’s Vera Farmiga wore a bright red Marchesa gown of ruffles that was not to everyone’s taste but certainly pushed the limits of feminine fashion.

As for trends we can bring to bear on our next eveningwear shopping spree, the big four are colour (blue and metallic); femininity (ruffles); texture (beading), and a very pretty type of power dressing.?Here are some examples.

Diane Kruger celebrates her womanhood in this Chanel gown that might make a less beautiful woman look more like a bird than a person. On her, ruffles, a train and these classic colours look just the thing. Top right: An Education’s Carey Mulligan in fun, shapely Prada. Right: Jennifer Lopez goes sculptural in Armani Privé and Demi Moore ramps up her
feminity in ruffly L’Atelier Versace.

Kathryn Bigelow celebrates her historic Best Director award in a sheer, embroidered Yves Saint Laurent dress decorated in a leaf design, looking the essence of beautiful she-power. Below left:?Kate Winslet looks sharp and correct in her silvery Yves Saint Laurent dress, and Victoria Beckham looks chic and together in one of her own creations.

Gabourey Sidibe, star of Precious, said that if fashion were porn, her Marchesa gown was “the money shot”. Below left: Maggie Gyllenhaal exudes indigo elegance in a Dries Van Noten frock, while Precious’s Mo’nique rocks a deep blue gown she called a tribute to Gone With the Wind star Hattie McDaniels.

Cameron Diaz wears a galactic-style, beaded strapless Armani Privé dress that manages to evoke the firmament with a great deal of feminine elegance and taste. Below left:?Dame Helen?Mirren wears a Badgley Mischka dress resembling the night sky with Chopard jewels and Best Actress Sandra Bullock shimmers in an elegant Marchesa gown.