It's one of the abiding mysteries why too many stars trekking down the Red Carpet to the Academy Awards are so fashion challenged. Seriously. They're professionals working in a visual medium. Their work depends on seeing. Yet, oddly, too many of them suddenly go blind when looking in a mirror. Surely, in Hollywood, everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows basic fashion? Or call up the costume designer on your last film and ask for help? Or, if you can't afford to pay for that service, and if you're going to be on that red carpet, wouldn't you think you'd at least call a brutally honest friend to ask, "Does this dress make me look stupid?"
Like, did nobody have the heart to tell the beautiful Marion Cotillard that while wearing her very, very expensive white Dior gown she had apparently sat down on a very large patch of black duct tape that was now stuck to the bottom of her butt?
Granted, dressing women of a certain size and age can be a challenge. But it can be done. I give you two words: Oprah Winfrey. That Queen of Zoftig knows how to get Spanx-wrapped and go full out Diva. Not so lucky was Patricia Arquette. She looked like she had been out in her yard in a too-large white tee-shirt and oversized black pants, her hair grabbed up in a scraggy bun to keep most of it out of her face while she washed the family's laundry in a big bucket, when the phone rang, reminding her it was the Red Carpet hour, so she dropped what she was doing and came as she was -- a hot mess. And take a closer look at her "gown" and you'll see something that looks like it was made at home using an old Singer, by someone who doesn't know how to sew very well -- cheap satin, seams showing. Oh Dear.
If she actually paid somebody to make her look like that as she headed for the microphone to get her much deserved Oscar, then she should put a bucket of shame on their head. And one on her own. But, alas, too many stars believe their fashionista dressers (huge pay-off money in that let-me-pay-you-to-wear-my-loopy-designs business). And the result is, too many beautiful ladies earn the ultimate, but much-deserved, acid critique: "Poor Dear, you just had to buy that dress, didn't you?"
But there was one fashion stand out: Neil Patrick Harris stripped down to his tighty-whities in a spoof of Michael Keaton's underwear stroll down Broadway in "Birdman." Basic simplicity in fashion is never out of style and it doesn't get more basic than that.
As for the Oscar show itself, it was one of the best ones I've seen in a long time -- plenty of glitter, plenty of heart-felt and often genuinely sweet acceptance speeches, (Eddie Redmayne's spontaneous little kid happy-dance at the microphone, Graham Moore's touching and encouraging speech to all the "weird, different kids" out there). And, best of all, with so many great movies and nominations, all of them worthy, it was impossible to feel too disappointed by any losses. It was an embarrassment of riches.