There were many new fashion faces on the red carpet at the 84th annual Academy Awards on Sunday night, but they brought with them a lot of old Hollywood glamour.
Rooney Mara in white Givenchy, Emma Stone in red Giambattista Valli and Jessica Chastain in Alexander McQueen were among those making bolder-than-normal choices at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles.
"I picked it because I loved it," said Mara of the Riccardo Tisci custom-made gown made of mixed laces and multilayered chiffon.
Stone's gown had a high-neck bow, a trend on the designer runways right now, and Chastain's black strapless gown designed by McQueen creative director Sarah Burton was embroidered with gold bullion and metallic thread.
Some seasoned style stars stepped up their game, too, including Michelle Williams in a burnt-orange Louis Vuitton covered with delicate details, Jennifer Lopez in a crystal-covered Zuhair Murad, Cameron Diaz in a strapless sand-colored Gucci and Penelope Cruz in a feminine, off-the-shoulder, smoky-blue Armani Prive.
Angelina Jolie did her simple, sexy thing in a black strapless gown with a high slit by Atelier Versace.
Gwyneth Paltrow went sleek and chic in a white Tom Ford that had a matching slim cape, and Stacy Keibler was statuesque in gold lame Marchesa.
"Stacy's dress was chosen straight off the Fall '12 runway. The fabric has real gold metal woven into it, which gives it an almost liquid feel," described Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, herself an Oscars attendee in Marchesa on the arm of husband Harvey Weinstein.
"I was at fashion week, saw it on the runway and was like, 'I need to have that,'" Keibler said.
Paltrow, who has done the Oscars as a pink princess and Goth rebel in past years, made the best-dressed lists of InStyle fashion director Hal Rubenstein and Louise Roe, Glamour magazine's editor-at-large.
"Gwyneth had the unexpected dress, and I find that very appealing," Rubenstein said.
"Absolute knockouts were the simplest," said Roe, co-host of ABC's live coverage. "I died for Gwyneth in Tom Ford with its elegant cape, Emma Stone in fuchsia halter-neck Valli and chunky-crystal Vuitton clutch. Shailene Woodley was a home run in Valentino and Jessica Chastain in classic gold McQueen. Wow."
Roe was pleased to see Woodley in her modern, fashion-forward gown. "She's Hollywood's new hot thing, and this dress finally lived up to our expectations: chic, simple, elegant, I loved it."
Rubenstein said he liked that there wasn't a cookie-cutter look; there wasn't one way to describe this red carpet. "One thing I did love is that it was a night not about one shape — not just the clothing, but the women."
His "wowza movie-star moment" belonged to Lopez. "Jennifer Lopez did exactly what you want Jennifer Lopez to do," he said.
(Later, during the telecast, Lopez looked close to a wardrobe malfunction with her plunging V neck.)
Viola Davis' emerald-green, corset-style gown by Vera Wang had a little beading on the bustline and a chiffon pleated skirt. She matched her earrings to the jewel tone of the gown, which seemed a popular trend. Melissa McCarthy also did it, pairing her rose Marina Rinaldi with crystal neckline and waistband with 10-carat diamond earrings decorated with pink diamonds by Chopard and a pink tourmaline cocktail ring.
Her high-school pal, shoe designer Brian Atwood, made her glittery shoes. "He put a beautiful inscription on the bottom of the shoes, which made me cry and almost ruined all my makeup."
Penelope Ann Miller also wore the rose color. She worked with Badgley Mischka to create her slightly retro halter gown made of rose gold sequins and chiffon.
Meryl Streep doesn't always do it up for awards shows but she did this time in a gold dress by Lanvin that she paired with antique gold pendant earrings and a 19th-century diamond cluster ring by Fred Leighton.
Glenn Close did a modern mix of a menswear-style jacket over a feminine corset dress by Zac Posen. Posen also had a big celebrity get with Miss Piggy: She wore a gold V-neck gown with a Fred Leighton 55-karat diamond necklace and 10-carat diamond headband.
Rose Byrne in shimmery black Vivienne Westwood, Kristen Wiig in a delicate champagne J. Mendel and Tina Fey in a regal indigo gown by Carolina Herrera with a trend-right peplum and black velvet waistband also elevated their fashion credibility — and likely their star wattage — with their appearances. Fey was another fan of the matching earrings: Hers were almost 48 carats of blue sapphires from Bulgari.
Octavia Spencer continued to work with Tadashi Shoji on her awards-show wardrobe, this time in a hand-beaded, draped ivory gown with cap sleeves.
Milla Jovovich, best known as a model, channeled a screen siren in a one-shoulder, white-beaded Elie Saab gown. "I wanted something very clean, structured, like a statement piece without being overpowered," she said.
Berenice Bejo chose a mint-green, fully embroidered gown by Saab. Her makeup artist Julie Hewett said they purposely created a fresh, unfussy look to complement the dress because it was an unusual color. "We decided to go very simple and not complete," said Hewett, a Dior artist. "I kept her skin very fresh: not powdered, very clean, very natural."
Hewett saw the influence of the 1920s and '30s on the red carpet and thought it could be a nod to "The Artist," for which Bejo is nominated.
"Old Hollywood never goes away, it never goes out of fashion, but 'The Artist' brought it back for a generation that didn't know about Hollywood at that time," Hewett said. "It's how we want our stars to look."