Last night, amidst weather that looked like a total slushstorm but that the Brits probably classified as “a bit of rain” and the makeup artists probably classified as a series of expletives requiring industrial anti-frizz pomade, the stars gathered to celebrate the BAFTAs.
I enjoy the BAFTAs because of the red-carpet opportunity it provides for talented UK actors (except this year, when many of those who are So Hot Right Now are sitting in tents in Lincoln Center for Fashion Week instead). And though actually walking the red carpet is probably not super fun as a rule if you do it regularly, at least this one is full of talented people, many of them at least pretending to enjoy themselves, even if some of them have made some unfortunate fashion choices.
As an opener, I love this shot of the press pit, both for the sense of how it must feel to be there, and because it starts the surprise trend of the night: amazing versions of silhouettes that tend to look odd!
Alicia Vikander, fighting for look of the night with a high-low hemline sack dress, which sounds like it would be every problem in the world and generally is, but this one time, the bias cut creates a gorgeous drape all along the hem, and the cut makes a perfect weighty skim along the body, and she just looks impossibly careless and chic.
Speaking of impossibly careless and chic, the amazing Helen Mirren IS Glinda the Good Witch IN The Candyfloss Queen of Oz, a brand-new sequel to the classic children’s books in which the people of Oz are menaced by the Hasbros of Gumdrop Mountain and their ambitious queen, Frostine! Will she prevail? I think we can tell from this picture that the answer is pretty solid. (Honestly though, it seems impossible that a crew neck putty-color gown with floral embroidery should work, but here we all are, just dealing with it.)
However, my personal look of the night went to a dress that made me say in quick succession, “I LOVE this!” and “…but why?”
Zawe Ashton wins my look of the night in a dress I should HATE. High opaque collar over a sheer appliqué gown over a black minidress? I mean, come on.
But here she is, looking pretty awesome! Are spiders crawling up her hem? Sure! But only to the knee, which somehow balances the proportions by emphasizing the purposefulness of the bare leg – it looks more deliberate than the many iterations I’ve seen that look like the underdress just got too tired to go to the ground underneath. But on her it works, and the punk edge makes sense all around, and I just really, really loved this look on her. I don’t even know what to tell you.
There were also other looks I loved! Also some that made me sigh audibly. We’ll just go through them all.
Jennifer Lawrence’s dress under this jacket is pretty standard – lovely, but standard. It’s the riding jacket that makes this look for me, even though it was only in defense against cold weather and was forcibly removed by an entire team of peeved handlers the instant her shoulders were safe from that bastard rain. You just le smoking-slash-fox-hunt the shit out of that jacket, Jennifer.
Judi Dench, wearing a lovely and simple dress with minimal jewelry that says, “I’m Judi Dench. Any questions?” Nope, Judi, you’re all good.
Juno Temple. I love the use of black as an accent color here – just enough to highlight the shape of the bodice but not so much that it interrupts the visual whole of White Dress. Great stuff.
Long-sleeve sequins in a great color? Gemma Chan, I dig it.
Saoirse Ronan, whose foray into the land of illusion netting doesn’t thrill me nearly as much as Zawe Ashton’s, but I like the silhouette and the colors on the appliqué (even though they really, really look appliqué), and the overall look works.
(Here begins the slide downhill.)
Gemma Arterton, who heard about Mirren’s Candy Land deal, here in her audition frock for Lord Licorice.
Thandie Newton, here proving how easily strong-neckline-sheer-pattern-overdress-over-a-mini can go wrong, and that she is immortal.
Amy Adams, who clearly did not think she would be up against this much competition for the sheer-black-overlay department, but who is nevertheless gleefully flaunting her breaking of so many Grammy regulations.
Sally Field, whose most notable accessory is the expression of a woman who has realized her second-career highlight performance will be losing the Oscar this year.
Samantha Banks, who was in the movie TOO, OKAY, she had her role on STAGE CAN ANNE HATHAWAY SAY THAT, and no matter how much cleavage it takes she is going to GET SOME PHOTO TIME DAMMIT.
Marvelous actress Andrea Riseborough, clearly freezing cold, in a well-constructed dress that looks like it should be either more or less saturated than it is.
Marion Cotillard, whose dress is beautifully saturated, except for the mesh part where the dress is just missing.
Jessica Chastain, determined not to be left out of this year’s red-carpet Veronica Lake Race.
So, you know how sometimes someone’s wearing something great and they go, “It’s vintage!” and you think, neat!, but sometimes someone says, “It’s vintage!” and you can’t help it, you think, “Yeah, I can tell”? Well, here’s Helen McCrory.
(That said, if she wanted to take this dress and show up on the set of Mad Men and play some amazing CEO looking for an ad company who befriends Peggy for road trips and whatever, I’d be completely okay with that. She can keep the dress.)
Paloma Faith, in a look to which she has certainly committed.
Hayley Atwell, in a dress that has one element too many, and since the color blocking and shoulder treatment and peplum all work, I’m going to guess it’s that the ten-foot rule makes the probably-beautiful texture on the white section of her dress look like stucco.
“I’ll find who gave me this dress,” says Elizabeth Olsen through grit teeth. “I’ll find them, and I will question them in detail about why they hate me so much that they would push me out in public in a dress that featured domino-print, feathered decoupage, with a peplum.”
And you know, I love a really stylish, chic pants outfit for evening. Someday Sarah Jessica Parker might find one! Godspeed.
This year’s trendless trends seem to last one red carpet and vanish (remember ballgowns from like a month ago? ZERO of them here). If that continues, whatever ends up on the Oscars red carpet is anybody’s guess, and in a lot of cases it’s probably more about personal brand than overall trends, so the idea will not be Jennifer Lawrence in Chartreuse (though she probably could!), but Jennifer Lawrence is Hopefully Not Going to Do Anything Beyond-Goofy Until She Gets Inside, Please. However, it does look like lace/illusion netting are making a strong case for themselves this year, however ill-advised. At this point, there’s no knowing, but if there isn’t one person at the Oscars with a sheer overlay, I’ll be a little surprised.
You can see more at HuffPoUK, from whence these photos came.