After a Fashion

This year's Academy Awards fashion winners and losers.

GEMS OF WISDOM "Regardless of who goes home with the gold, ultimately the best-dressed wins at the end," says designer Randolph Duke of dressing for the Academy Awards. And she who went home with the gold -- Hilary Swank -- just happened to be wearing a Randolph Duke dress, one whipped up for her the day before, after something went terribly wrong with the Dior Couture gown. Dior designer John Galliano must have been furious, but he got to dress Nicole Kidman -- who looked fabulous in her gold dress. She also looks gorgeous in glasses, proving it can happen. Special Mention: Winona Ryder, subdued but always glamorous, Charlize Theron, in a spectacular flame-colored Vera Wang, Tyra Banks, decked out as Glinda the Good Witch from Wizard of Oz in lavender tulle, beautiful Angela Bassett, Cate Blanchett, in basic black that became a framework for the magnificent jewelry strewn across her bare back. She knows what a movie queen should look like. Chloë Sevigny, looking like a lovely, less obnoxious Cybill Shepherd, in her YSL, with a breathtaking diamond cross hanging from a chunky diamond necklace. Big chunky diamond jewelry of every description was the rule, and there were some dazzling displays -- notably on Hilary Swank, among so many others.

DHOH! (Did Her Own Hair) A dubious and often disastrous achievement, DHOH Winners include the voluptuous horror known as Karen Black, Heather Graham, Angelica Huston, Diane Keaton, and, appallingly, Gwyneth Paltrow. Many of these women have great personal style and otherwise looked nice, but messy hair on the most important fashion night of the year is not easily overlooked. Gwyneth looked particularly dreadful in a not-quite-dressy-enough Calvin Klein affair, with make-up and hair that looked like they had seen better days.

Erykah Badu, we have to talk. The towering turban I can live with (unless I'm sitting behind you in a theatre), but the outfit you and your friend designed to wear into the Oscars was dreadful. The stray bits of raffia sticking out here and there made you resemble the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz (is this the theme?), and the whole thing looked so homemade, it never should have left Kansas. And even if Joan Rivers did say you looked lovely, she's going to butcher you behind your back on her Oscar Fashion Review. Get a clue, and hire a stylist.

Cher-hair and Madonna-hair was everywhere. Best Supporting Actress winner Angelina Jolie sported goth-babe fake hair replete with black dress and train. Effective, but a little stark and a little too derivative. She's lovely and reasonably talented, with a sparkling future (replacing Gwyneth as the new Hollywood princess), and should develop a signature style that is all her own. But she picked a hard look to pull off, especially since the original Cher was there, looking great in a beautiful black Medieval gown and accessories. Even if she did get into a fight with her dress. She apologized to the Academy for her transgressions, and promised to do better. Oscar night was a good start.

Was it my imagination, or did lapels and bowties seem considerably smaller and narrower? Gee, I would have thought they would have gotten bigger first. Or maybe the guys were just recycling some of their late-Eighties, early-Nineties formal wear. The men's report has to mention the pervasive matching shirts and neckties. We saw it everywhere, and it's a fine alternative to the tux-and-bowtie look. There were precious few other options, with the occasional tailcoat and frockcoat making a welcome appearance. Even the errant Brad Pitt put on a tie and combed his hair, though it did need a little trim (doesn't it always?). Best-dressed man there? Willie Fulgear, the hero junkman, decked out in top hat and tails.

THAT OTHER AWARDS SHOW Frost formed in the room as I was informed by my illustrious sister Margaret that my last column, partially dedicated to the Austin Music Awards, failed to mention her crew of lovelies and the fact that she has made the Awards Show into one of Austin's most stylish events. Well, she did look great, especially in the big ol' sparkly earrings that I give her every year (and for which she thanked me from the stage), and her bevy of beauties styled by salons Pink and Wet looked stunning and did their jobs admirably. I especially liked the escort in the satin Vera Wang knockoff who was not ashamed to tell me the dress was from Burlington Coat Factory. (See? I told you they had some cool things there, but the service? Execrable.) Anyway, I deeply regret the omission, and was obviously deranged by the glamour of the evening (or maybe just the cocktails) to have not made it my lead item. Honorable belated mention must also go to my entertaining cohorts in social commentary that evening, Sharon and Fiona, who keep me abreast of who was who. Thanks, ladies, it was a scream.

FASHION SHOW Erwin Center, Thursday, April 6, reception, 6:45pm, runway show, 8pm. Produced by the UT Fashion Group to showcase the work of student designers.

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