When it comes to setting the fashion tone for this year’s Oscars, a gritty drama about boxing was never going to pack much punch against “The Aviator,” an epic tale set in Hollywood’s most glamorous days.
Best actress nominee Hilary Swank, star of “Million Dollar Baby,” may be among the most eagerly awaited stars on the red carpet, but Cate Blanchett, who plays Katharine Hepburn in “The Aviator,” will be the style icon of the day, fashion experts and stylists say.
“There’s going to be that old Hollywood, classic, traditional look,” said Joe Zee, editor of Vitals Man and Vitals Woman magazines and a former fashion director of W magazine.
“Being the movie that took the most nominations, it’s set the mood for what this is about,” Zee said, noting the 11 nominations for Martin Scorsese’s biopic about film mogul and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes in the 1930s and 1940s.
Blanchett, who missed out on an Oscar when she was nominated in 1999 for the film “Elizabeth,” will be wearing a pair of gloves that belonged to Hepburn, hoping they bring her luck with this year’s nomination for best supporting actress. The rest of her outfit remains a secret.
Designers have been courting stars for weeks in the hope of seeing their creations on the red carpet, which has become the most prestigious catwalk in the fashion world.
Some of the major stars regularly wear the same designer, such as best actress nominee Swank who is all but certain to wear a Calvin Klein gown, as she did to the Golden Globes.
A host of designers who are not such household names have been showing their wares at luxury suites this week. One is Cesar de la Parra, who was showing for the first time at the Oscars and whose dresses have caught the eye of actress Kate Bosworth.
“I’d like Virginia Madsen to wear one of my gowns,” he said, referring to the “Sideways” star nominated for best supporting actress.
Elizabeth Mason, who is dressing several stars, said vintage was back: actress Kelly Lynch will wear a sapphire-blue silk jersey draped 1940s Ceil Chapman gown and Tori Spelling will wear a 1950s Ceil Chapman halter-neck dress.
“It’s all about retro Hollywood right now,” said Roger Neal, shoe designer Stuart Weitzman’s longtime representative.
In keeping with the theme, Weitzman has incorporated one of Marilyn Monroe’s favorite pairs of earrings into a pair of shoes he says are “the ultimate Oscar accessory.”
Grabbing the limelight“That whole goddess trend is still going very strong,” said Melissa Rivers, who with her mother, Joan, is among the most feared fashion critics on the red carpet. For years, they have dominated the pre-Oscar broadcast with their blend of celebrity schmoozing and barbed comments about fashion faux pas.
Although they are expecting elegance and femininity from the nominees, the Rivers duo are hoping for something more unusual from stars who will not be on stage during the show.
“Unless you’re nominated, you should come looking insane because it’s a photo op,” said Joan Rivers, known for not holding her tongue when she sees something she doesn’t like.
“You’re there to get photographed and be on the cover in Bangkok,” she said, recalling past fashion errors with glee.
“If you’re going to dress like a chicken like Bjork, you’re going to be on the cover. If you’re going to dress like a drunken ballerina like Lara Flynn Boyle, you’re going to make the cover.”
Keen to avoid joining a list topped by Bjork’s “swan” dress in 2001, savvy stars turn to a host of stylists in the weeks before the Oscars, and will enjoy pampering and beauty treatments from top cosmetics companies and spas.
“We’re going to see a lot of classic things because of “The Aviator,”’ said Chanel makeup artist Susan Sterling, whose clients have included Juliette Binoche and Julianne Moore.
“That means a lot of 1920s, 1930s, 1940s makeup,” Sterling said, predicting pale skin, rich red lips and smoky eyes.
Hollywood’s leading men may not be in the spotlight to the same extent, but there are still things to avoid.
Melissa Rivers said the key for men was good tailoring and good fit with no gimmicks. Red bow ties are definitely not dignified. “You’re not going to the prom,” she said.