Armani, Dior rack up fashion wins at Oscars

Forget Jessica Chastain vs. Jennifer Lawrence. The most heated contest on the Oscars red carpet could be the one between Giorgio Armani and Dior Haute Couture.

Giorgio Armani could claim some big wins: the designer dressed Chastain, Naomi Watts and Quvenzhane Wallis on Sunday night. Dior dressed Lawrence and Charlize Theron _ both are spokesmodels _ who hit it right in white.

Chastain, in a glistening copper-tone strapless gown with mermaid hem, looked like an old-world glamorous movie star, especially with her oversized vintage Harry Winston diamond earrings and bright red lipstick.

“I chose it because to me it was a throwback to old Hollywood,” she said. “It’s a very `Happy birthday, Mr. President’ dress.”

Watts wore a gunmetal beaded gown with a geometric cutout on the bodice, also by Armani.

Quvenzhane (kwuh-VEHN’-juh-nay), with a silver headband in her hair and carrying a bedazzled puppy purse, wore an Armani Junior navy-blue dress with black, navy and silver jewels scattered on the skirt and a big bow on the back. She had another Armani dress, a pink one, ready for the afterparty. “I liked it because it was sparkly and puffy.”

Lawrence was the belle of the ball in a white-and-pale pink strapless gown with fitted bustier and poufy hemline, sophisticated pulled-back hair, diamond-ball earrings and a delicate long necklace that hung down in back. Theron was sleek in an angular strapless dress with a fashion-right peplum and a buzz-cut hairdo.

Christos Garkinos, longtime red-carpet watcher and owner of Decades vintage store in Los Angeles, said, “You could have turned the TV off right when Charlize Theron came on. She was perfect.”

The more interesting chatter, however, could be about the Jane Fondas and Sally Fields of the world. Fonda wore bright taxicab yellow Versace and Sally Field was in bright red.

“Women of a certain age almost gave the feeling that the older you get, the bolder you get,” Garkinos said.

Hal Rubenstein, editor at large of InStyle magazine, was pretty impressed by 86-year-old Emmanuelle Riva in Lanvin. “Jane Fonda looks amazing because she’s Jane Fonda, but Emmanuelle Riva was so elegant.”

Another look that had people talking was Anne Hathaway’s pale pink Prada dress. Rubenstein called the dress and Tiffany & Co. necklace “an Audrey Hepburn moment.”

Garkinos wasn’t as kind. Thanks to some awkwardly placed darts in the bust, he said it was more like Gwyneth Paltrow’s big Academy Awards moment, when she wore a lovely Ralph Lauren pink dress but the fit wasn’t quite right.

Hathaway, before the show, said her dress with a seemingly sweet vibe but with a strategically open back and sexy sides, was a last-minute choice. “It fit my mood and place where I’m at right now.”

It almost seemed there were two routes to the red carpet, said Rubenstein: incredibly beaded and eye-catching, worn by Nicole Kidman in L’Wren Scott, Halle Berry in Versace, and Stacy Keibler in Naeem Khan; or a simple color with a great silhouette. He puts Lawrence, Reese Witherspoon in a strapless royal-blue Louis Vuitton gown with a black strip at the bustline and Jennifer Aniston in a Valentino red strapless gown in that camp.

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