LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Shimmering beads and jewels in pale hues and dresses in bold tones brightened an unusually dreary rainy afternoon in Hollywood on Sunday as the film industry's stars hit the glamorous Oscars red carpet.
Actresses Julianne Moore in shimmering Chanel, Felicity Jones and Emma Stone donned dresses with sparkle and shine as they arrived for the biggest night for the movie business.
Jones, nominated for best actress for her role in "The Theory of Everything," wore a fairy tale-inspired Alexander McQueen gray gown with a beaded halter bodice and full skirt. She said she chose the design for its "strength and femininity".
"This year was a turning point for fashion on the red carpet. We are really starting to see almost everyone take chances," said Eric Wilson, fashion news director at Instyle Magazine. He noted that actresses eschewed traditional "fairy princess" dresses for an array of necklines and textures.
Lupita Nyong'o, closely watched on the red carpet, opted for a custom Calvin Klein white halter dress that she helped design and which was embellished with 6,000 pearls.
"I was thinking about it being fluid and liquid, an homage to the sea," the actress said.
Light metallic tones were popular among actresses such as Jennifer Aniston in a blush beaded Versace number and Anna Faris in a silver beaded Zuhair Murad. Jennifer Lopez and Emma Stone both opted for shimmering Elie Saab dresses - Lopez preferred a plunging bronze, full-skirted gown while Stone went for a light green sparkling fitted dress that offset her red hair.
Best actress nominee Moore wore a strapless white beaded Chanel gown with black accents, while "Birdman" actress Naomi Watts shimmered in an Armani Prive gown with head-to-toe silver and black beads.
Lady Gaga made a statement on the red carpet in a silver beaded white structured, full-skirted gown by Azzedine Alaia with red gauntlet gloves. Wilson called her gown "a big fashion moment."
Best actress nominee Marion Cotillard also opted for white, in a embroidered Christian Dior couture gown. Wilson picked Cotillard and Moore as his choices for best dressed of the night.
"Embellishment was a big story tonight," said Wilson.
LADIES IN RED
Red was a popular choice for actresses including Dakota Johnson in Saint Laurent Paris, and best actress nominee Rosamund Pike, who said she wanted to wear some color to close out awards season after having worn predominantly black and white.
She opted for a red strapless Givenchy gown with lace embroidery that gave it the appearance of layered rose petals.
Scarlett Johansson wore a curve-hugging deep green Versace gown, while Anna Kendrick donned a coral halter Thakoon gown. Best supporting actress nominee Patricia Arquette bucked the shine trend with an understated black and white off-the-shoulder gown designed by her childhood friend, Rosetta Getty.
Witherspoon, in a pale blue Tom Ford gown with black trim, talked about the "Ask Her More" campaign, in which female celebrities are lobbying to be asked about more on the red carpet than just what they are wearing.
"We're more than just our dresses," Witherspoon said. "We are so happy to be here to talk about the work that we've done. It's hard being a woman in Hollywood, or any industry."
(This story has been refiled to correct the first name of Arquette dress designer to Rosetta from Rosanna in the seventh paragraph)
(Additional reporting by Eric Kelsey and Lisa Richwine; Editing by Sandra Maler and Ken Wills)