Why did the Oscars change the colour of its 2023 carpet from red to champagne for the first time since 1961? Answer: to evoke the Hollywood sunset.
But after hours of watching celebrities traipse along it with their outdoor shoes, critics might say the effect was more dirty filthy “Carpetright” than “California cool”. Turns out there was a reason why red was a staple. On the bright side, at least it matched Jamie Lee Curtis’s dress.
While the message conveyed by the Oscars’ beige rug might be ambiguous, there was no such ambiguity in the messages conveyed by the lineup of gowns. Here’s our roundup of the best from the award attendees.
The victorious Best Actress winner – the first ever Asian to win the the award – couldn’t have looked more ethereal if she’d sprouted wings. In a white Christian Dior Couture gown festooned with delicate feathers, she told the audience: “Ladies, don’t let anyone ever tell you you are past your prime.” Looking far younger than her 60 years, because white will do that to a person, Yeoh’s message was: after years of being the bridesmaid, tonight I’m the bride.
Her reaction to losing Best Supporting Actress may have gone viral, and if her face betrayed a smidgeon of disappointment, Bassett was no more disappointed than her legion of fans. But in her purple Moschino fishtail gown and Bulgari jewels, she looked every inch the regal queen.
From the train of the gown to the classic 1940s Hollywood siren waves in her hair, she looked a top-to-toe winner. The message: I did the thing.
Ana de Armas
Leave it to Kim Kardashian to court controversy by squeezing into one of Marilyn Monroe’s most memorable gowns, allegedly damaging it in the process. As the woman nominated for an Oscar for playing Marilyn, Ana de Armas proved she was in need of no such shock tactics, instead choosing to honour the star in a gown that recalled Marilyn’s, but was brand spanking new.
The Cuban actress may not have bagged an Oscar on the night, but her Louis Vuitton sequin gown was still a win. The message: I know how to play the Hollywood game.
Jamie Lee Curtis
“I’m dressed like a glass of pink champagne and sparkling apple cider, to match the carpet in the spirit of the evening, toasting all the nominees and artists,” the Best Supporting Actress winner posted on Instagram, making light of the carpet colour match that was presumably accidental, unless she called ahead to check (stylists must have been pulling their hair out over the change).
Her Dolce & Gabbana column dress was perfectly chosen, its corsetry cinched at the waist, with long sleeves and a hue that flattered her complexion. At 64, Curtis has more than earned her right to be outspoken – and frequently is – but tonight she toed the line. The message: tonight is about celebration, not controversy.
Whether you call it “directional” or just a high class version of how the rest of us look when we drag our duvet to the living room, no one can say that at 27 Pugh hasn’t found her trademark style. Most women spend a lifetime searching for their signature look, but she has arrived at hers already – and it’s totally pants. Pugh likes to show her knickers, either through a sheer dress or by means of a daringly high split. She also likes to wear Valentino, choosing a dramatic cream couture gown worn with black shorts. The message: I am rebellious, proud of my body and will do glamour on my own terms.
Category: modest red carpet glamour to the max. There was so much thought put into this look, from the custom-made silver sequin Ralph Lauren gown to the jewellery. Yousafzai’s vintage earrings, by Fred Leighton, once belonged to Queen Soraya Tarzi, a former minister of education and a champion of change in Afghanistan who worked to educate women. They were the perfect choice for the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has done so much for women’s rights herself. The message: I am proud to honour my heritage on the red carpet.
When you recently revealed you’ve had a stint in rehab, as Cara recently told Vogue, you know the eyes of the world will be watching your every move. Four months after leaving a treatment centre for addiction and having enjoyed four months of sobriety, this was Cara’s first red carpet appearance, and she made it count, choosing a red, full-skirted Elie Saab gown that called to mind one of the most memorable in cinematic history. Gone With The Wind fans won’t have failed to clock the Scarlett O’Hara references, made modern by the addition of a daring thigh split. Her Bulgari jewellery was equally flawless, and it was good to see her looking so well. The message: nothing to see here, just classic Old Hollywood glamour executed flawlessly.
And here’s Rihanna, just casually redefining maternity dressing yet again in a custom brown gown by Alaïa. With Pieter Mulier now creative director, following Azzedine Alaïa’s death in 2017, Alaïa is the designer’s designer, an unimpeachable choice that’s still considered leftfield. Featuring a long-sleeved brown bodysuit worn with a brown leather bra top and a long leather skirt with ribbed thigh cut-outs, we can only assume RiRi’s basal body temperature hasn’t been affected by the sweats that afflict most pregnant women. The message: Jojo Maman Bébé isn’t my thing.