Risky, revealing gowns catch Oscar's eye
Tuesday, January 30, 2007; 6:30 PM
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Take a stunning, one-of-a-kind haute couture gown. Add a beautiful actress with the flair and confidence to pull it off. And voila! A red carpet success, say Oscar fashion mavens.
Memorable Oscar gowns took the stage on Tuesday at "A Celebration of Oscar Fashion," a runway show in Beverly Hills curated by Vogue magazine's Editor-at-Large Andre Leon Talley and held in advance of the 79th Academy Awards on February 25.
Actresses from Elizabeth Taylor to Charlize Theron and Hilary Swank loaned gowns for the show celebrating seminal moments in red-carpet fashion, which is widely watched each year for tips on what Hollywood's stars are wearing and which dress designers are hot.
The red carpet at the Oscars is the "gridlock of haute couture," Talley told socialites, stylists and colorful fashionistas at Tuesday's parade of 28 beaded, ruffled, shirred and see-through gowns.
Opening the show was designer Arnold Scaasi's sequined, bell-bottomed suit worn by Barbra Streisand to accept her best actress Oscar for 1968's "Funny Girl." Its see-through fabric still titillated audiences nearly four decades later.
Similarly, Bob Mackie's art deco-inspired creation Cher wore in 1987 when named best actress for "Moonstruck" drew applause for pushing the envelope with its revealing glimpses of skin -- a fashion risk few celebrities will dare today.
"Cher, I applaud you for your inventiveness, your daring," gushed Talley, who will co-host 2007's pre-Oscar fashion show.
REVEALING AND RISKY
In recent years, red-carpet designs have suffered from what fashion watchers complain is predictable uniformity. Stars are styled by professionals, and the gowns do not reveal a celebrity's personality or style the way they once did.
One exception was the vintage black velvet Valentino gown Julia Roberts wore for her win in 2000's "Erin Brockovich." Talley described its satin stripes fanning down the back as a look that took the actress' fashion persona to a higher level.
Edith Head -- whose clothing creations for films such as "All About Eve," "The Sting" and "Roman Holiday" garnered her eight Oscars for costume design -- dreamed up the violet blue chiffon gown matching the eyes of Elizabeth Taylor in 1970.
Up-and-coming Los Angeles designer Juan Carlos Obando who was in the crowd at Tuesday's show said that, unfortunately, television audiences can't quite appreciate the fine detailing and workmanship behind each gown but they are evident when seen close up.
"Once you know what went into making that dress ... it changes everything," Obando said, describing couture dressmaking as "hours and hours of pain."
But when it comes to Oscar 2007, style choices are still in the closet. Only one thing is sure, Talley predicted, "The glamour quotient will be very high."