Back in February 2020, critics were calling the Oscars’ red carpet antiquated: the opposite of feminist, out of step with the times, demeaningly all about dresses. “What are you wearing?” — after 30 years as the go-to question — was being replaced by “Who in your life really inspired you?” Actors and their stylists were accused of being shills for designers, dress-up dolls instead of soul-searching artists.
What a difference a pandemic makes.
After a nearly two-year dearth of glitz in a town that thrives on that as its business, Hollywood is poised to make Sunday’s Oscars the most glamorous ever, insiders told The Post.
“To counter her Tammy Faye look, she’s decided to go all-out sex bomb for Oscar,” said a fashion source of Chastain, who is styled by Elizabeth Stewart. “Wait till you see her hair! When you seem likely to win, actresses always take it one step further.”
And while Lady Gaga wasn’t nominated for her role in “House of Gucci,” she’ll still be presenting — and, perhaps, stealing the show.
Joico haircare recently held an exclusive dinner for Gaga’s longtime hair stylist Frederick Aspiras (who is nominated for “House of Gucci”), who flew in to Los Angeles from London after coiffing Gaga for the BAFTAs.
“Wait till you see her presenting at the Oscars,” Aspiras told guests at Osteria Gucci restaurant, next to the brand’s Rodeo Drive store. “We’re going all out: hair, makeup, gown. Gaga’s awards season looks were beyond, but this will be even beyond those.”
And it’s not just the actual show — stylists are being commissioned to secure the most stylish looks for all the before-and after-parties (this year’s night-of hot tickets are Madonna and manager Guy O’Seary’s annual bash, and the Jay-Z/Beyonce’ fete at the Chateau Marmont).
“Black tie looks weren’t really selling,” revealed a personal shopper at Saks Beverly Hills. “But in the last few weeks, all the Gucci and Miu Miu cocktail looks have flown out of the store.”
And with bigger and better high-definition television accentuating every pore, stars have been clamoring for innovative skin treatments. Beverly Hills derm to the stars Peter Kopelson was overwhelmed with requests for his 3-Dimensional Rejuvenation procedure. “It tightens and lifts, even at the neck, jowls and jawline,” he said. “This year, everyone — even the men — going to the Oscars wants to look refreshed. They’re excited to go out again after two years in virtual isolation.”
As for jewelry, “Everybody’s jockeying for the hard-to-get pieces, new or vintage, but they always go to the triple A list. But there’s so many diamonds being driven around the Hollywood Hills house to house this week, there’s plenty for everybody,” said one longtime stylist. “You’ll be able to tell who’s got the power by how exclusive their jewelry is.”
Italian jeweler Pommelato sent a team from Italy to bring a selection of jewels especially for Tiffany Haddish and Regina Hall. Tiffany, Bulgari, Cartier have all stocked their Rodeo Drive boutiques with special one-of-a-kind pieces — so exclusive they tend to get snapped up by mega wealthy international customers right after they appear on the red carpet.
Recent fashion shows have given clues as to which star might wear which designer. Ralph Lauren waited until just this week to show his fall 2022 collection in New York, where Jessica Chastain was spotted front row.
“There’s no reason Jessica Chastain would fly to New York for a fashion show right now if she wasn’t likely wearing Ralph,” said a New York fashion insider. “It’s not like she didn’t have a lot of press to do in LA.”
Venus Williams, meanwhile, attended a recent Louis Vuitton show in Paris, “and you can imagine why,” said another major stylist.
Armani is throwing their annual Saturday-night-before-the-Oscars party in honor of Nicole Kidman, nominated for “Being the Ricardos” — which pretty much clinches the deal that Nicole will be donning something from Armani couture.
Armani was fitting a team of male stars all week, as was Zegna, Gucci and Tom Ford, all using their Rodeo stores’ VIP rooms as HQ. One noted men’s stylist told The Post” “There’s almost more pressure on the guys to stand out on the carpet than the ladies now. We’ve seen Andrew Garfield, Javier Bardem and Kodi Smit-McPhee all donning cool colors and shapes. We’re going to see a lot more bright colors on suits this year than you’ve seen on any Oscars red carpet. A veritable parade of peacocks.”
Smit-McPhee, nominated as Best Supporting Actor for “The Power of The Dog,” has shown a particular flair for the experimental.
“Now I’m not just dressing Kodi,” his stylist, Hollywood blogger Jared Eng, told The Post. “I’m dressing his girlfriend and his parents, too. For the first Oscars in two years, everybody’s just going for it!”
That even includes the stylist themselves. While they usually toil in the background, Law Roach — the sartorial force behind such women as Zendaya, Tiffany Haddish, Kerry Washington, Mary J. Blige and more — is said to be planning to walk the Oscars red carpet with Zendaya, as he did at the Met Gala.
Roach, who oversees Zendaya’s hair and makeup to specifically compliment her clothing (a star of Valentino and Bulgari ad campaigns, she’s expected to don both brands) — and often has her makeup artists touch him up as well.
“This year is special because the Oscars red carpet will see the most interesting cross-section of fashion forward talent in years — from [co-host] Regina Hall to Hollywood’s new guard of actors: Alana Haim [‘Licorice Pizza’], Demi Singleton [‘King Richard’] and Emilia Jones [‘CODA’],” said Bronwyn Cosgrave, author of the Oscars fashion history book “Made For Each Other.”
Perhaps the only Oscar star not going for fashion broke this year is co-host Wanda Sykes. “I don’t care what I wear,” she’s been telling friends, “as long as I have comfortable shoes.”
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