Drexel Professor Breaks Down Oscars Fashion

The red carpet. Photo by Alan Light.
The red carpet. Photo by Alan Light.

The Academy Awards has always been a night to show off the latest in fashion and the 87th Oscars did not disappoint. 

Lisa Hayes, director of Drexel’s Fashion Design program, took a look at the best of what was worn Sunday night and offered her takes below.

There were a few overarching trends on this year’s red carpet for the women.

Beading was huge — lots of texture, hand-made details, sequins and pearls. White was the leading color story along with black and white followed by silver, nude and pinks, some coral and a bit of red.

Red lips were hot, and so was shorter hair, many stars sporting “the new bob,” like Faith Hill, who wore a long, white beaded gown and looked great.

The preparation is often months long,and can involve hundreds of hours, with custom dresses that often have 20 to 30 people hand-stitching to complete them — it’s a big night.

One source says it takes about 10 people to get each star ready to appear on the red carpet. Then remember: There are often endorsements and/or contracts that help determine what the stars will wear.

For me, Jennifer Lopez was the beauty of the evening, followed by Scarlet Johansson, Nupita Nyong’o, Chrissy Teigen, Naomi Watts, Laura Dern, Kerry Washington, Margot Robbie and Dakota Johnson. Eddie Redmayne for the best of the guys!

Here are some of my thoughts from the evening: I categorized the trends as “The Cinderellas,” “The Necklace Makes the Dress,” “Black & White,” “Beading and White,” and “The Guys.” Lastly, there were a few who wore color beautifully.

1. The Cinderellas

J-Lo was truly the Cinderella of the evening in Elie Saab. Her nude-colored ball gown with giant tulle skirt was cut to the waist with diamonds and crystal beads dripping from the waist partially down. She also had perfect pink lipstick. 

Lady Gaga was another Cinderella — or was she the fairy godmother? She wore a pale, sheer gray ball gown with a full tulle skirt covered with what looked liked crystals glittering. It was the perfect dress for a tribute to Julie Andrews.

Felicity Jones was the third Cinderella! Felicity wore Alexander McQueen by Sarah Burton. She also wore a full dress at the Golden Globes: She wore a huge pale gray ball gown skirt with sleeveless bodice heavily adorned with handwork — couture embellishment.

2. The Necklace Makes the Dress

Scarlet Johansson’s deep crystal collar necklace appeared to be designed for her beautiful green Atelier Versace dress of the same color.

Cate Blanchett shined in her long Galliano black sleeveless dress with a huge turquoise “collar” necklace.

Viola Davis’s look for the evening was “finished” with a big pearl and glistening necklace over a long pale mauve–pinkish gown.

3. Black and White

Reese Witherspoon was one of the most notable stars in a Tom Ford, black-and-white dress, which featured a long white yet much more classic silhouette with a wide black collar and black belt.

Patricia Arquette was also stunning in classic black-and-white dress — hers color-blocked and designed for her by her good friend Rosetta Getty.

4. Beading (and all white)

Julianne Moore’s dress was a show-stopper — an all-white, heavily beaded, custom-couture Chanel gown. This dress is said to have taken about 30 people to bead, which makes it extremely heavy.

Lupita Nyong’o wore a custom Calvin Klein gown beaded with about 6,000 pearls — a shiny long halter heavily beaded with a train.

Chrissy Teigen (with John Legend the “it couple”) outshined Legend’s Gucci tuxedo with her Zuhair Murad long-sleeved, dusty blue-gray beaded dress with the wrap open to the waist and a long skirt with the slit open to the waist and a silver beaded belt.

Laura Dern’s strapless, silver, heavily-beaded, shimmering long gown was very architectural and modern.

Naomi Watts wore a stunning Armani Prive square-neck, open-back, long flared, silver-and-black jacquard dress with a sequined black bandeau underneath — one of the most modern of the evening. It looked very young but many people panned her!

Kerry Washington’s dress was a Mui Mui design. Her long dress with peplum was a stunning cut.

Lady Gaga’s white gown was a true standout for the evening! She walked the red carpet in a custom Azzedine Alaia white dress with huge skirt and square sleeves. The Red gloves with bright red lipstick were great!

5. The Guys

Eddie Redmayne looked stunning and classy in his Alexander McQueen navy tuxedo with black satin lapels.

Will.i.am stepped out in a black-and-white striped shirt and a conductor’s hat.

Another very individual and eye-catching look was David Oyelowo’s maroon tuxedo with a red vest and tie.

Of course there was also Liam Neeson’s all-black look as well as Kevin Hart’s white tuxedo with black collar and Benedict Cumberbatch’s all-white tuxedo with white lapels paired with black pants. All of these topped the other plain, black, just-fine but classic tuxes. 

Tim McGraw’s Lanvin tuxedo was certainly classy. 

 6. Those Who Wore Color Beautifully

Emma Stone was one of the most beautiful who chose to wear color. Her pale mint green, soft-but-slim gown with long sleeves was also fully beaded.

Dakota Johnson’s simple-yet-stunning red Yves Saint Laurent long dress with rhinestones attached like a necklace was a standout. She looked modern and young..

So did Anna Kendrick in a long, Thakoon, bright coral, cross-top dress open to the waist with a diamond necklace detail as part of dress.

Other notables in colored dresses were: Keira Knightley in a pastel, dusty-mauve Valentino gown with a subtle floral pattern (much prettier than the dress she wore to the Golden Globes); Rosamund Pike in a strapless, red Givenchy dress with lots of textured layers changing into darker red-burgundy; and Zoe Saldena, who wore a light, ballet-pink, long mock wrap dress.

Margot Robbie chose to wear a Yves Saint Laurent long black dress with soft, sheer sleeves, which was simple, classic and stunning, but she didn’t disappoint with her fabulous red lipstick and Duchess of Windsor bling!