The Oscar for Best Dress goes to…
Let’s face it, the 2018 Academy Awards might stand out for a number of reasons, but fashion won’t be one of them. That’s fitting in a year when there’s a lot going on in Hollywood and most winners were featured for their raw, gritty performances. Indeed, this year almost seemed more notable for what didn’t work on the red carpet than what did. My favorite dresses were all streamlined and powerful in their simplicity. And how pitch perfect at a time when women in Hollywood are visibly striving to build a better industry for themselves: these are accomplished women being celebrated for their talent, not their outfits.
Best in show: Allison Janney. If you’re like me, you’ve loved her forever, in every role she’s ever had. And how awesome is it that this (let’s be honest) middle-aged woman who lacks your typical starlet looks is getting great roles. Her red dress, perfectly tailored and worn with such elegance, seemed to broadcast her confidence: ‘I’m just hitting my stride.’ Red is always a stunner, but Janney is statuesque and uses her height to perfect effect with long, lean lines in a classic Reem Acra. She always looks amazing, but she was a clear winner in this gown.
Impeccable fit and tailoring always stand out on the red carpet, and my awards in this category go to two women. To Laura Dern, radiant in a white Calvin Klein gown that had just enough softness to complement its structure, and to Helen Mirren, in a blue gown that proved that simplicity is sometimes the best route to success. Dern has an amazing figure, but this wasn’t a dress that oozed sex appeal. It was power dressing at its best: clean lines that didn’t distract from the real star of the show. And what can you say about Helen Mirren – the woman would look fabulous in a trash bag. Long sleeves and a high neck on an older woman can veer into frumpy or conservative, but her gown hugged her figure in all the right places. Pairing a subtle color with standout jewels and a sparkle in her eye was just the ticket.
It’s so appropriate that Wonder Woman showed up as Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot was on trend and effortless in a Givenchy dress that weighed a ton and could have veered into fussiness on almost anyone else. I don’t quite know how, but she wore crazy big jewels and heavy metallic fringe in a way that looked downright casual. She carries herself like she knows exactly where she’s going and she’s completely unconcerned with what you or anyone else might think of it. Brava!
I have a very active group text chain with my high school girlfriends, and there was unanimous agreement on one thing: Margot Robbie and her mom looked spectacular. Also, you should always bring your mom as your date. Margot’s Chanel gown was classic and ethereal, something you could easily imagine on Grace Kelly. And her mom proved that dates can have just as much fashion fun. It’s indicative of just how unmemorable most looks were that Margot’s mom wore one of our favorite dresses of the night.
There was a lot of controversy on the friend group text chain over Saoirse Ronan and her petal pink Calvin Klein. We wanted to love this look, but the dress didn’t fit her well. Lovely girl, beautiful dress, but they didn’t click. In a year when the best dresses played second fiddle to the strong women wearing them, this dress just didn’t make her shine.
There was a lot of that on the red carpet: dresses that just didn’t quite work. Too much was too much – overly ornate or embellished dresses weren’t right for the moment. This Oscar red carpet was about quiet strength, and the best dresses telegraphed just that.
Merin Guthrie is the founder and CEO of Houston-based Kit, an innovative Made in America clothing start-up changing the way clothes are made.