Women’s Wear Daily
04.17.2014
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fashion-features

Looking for an Edge at the Oscars

Play it safe or take a risk? That’s the question actresses are contemplating now that the nominations have been unveiled.

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Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

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Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”

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BEVERLY HILLS — Play it safe or take a risk?

That’s the question actresses are contemplating now that the Oscar nominations have been unveiled. The list included a few newbies, but most of the actresses have walked the red carpet before — Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams, Natalie Portman, Helena Bonham Carter and Michelle Williams. And observers are hoping that at least some of the stars might go for something edgier on Feb. 27 than the predictable gowns that have dominated the last few years.

Cristina Ehrlich, who styles Oscar regular Adams, often in Carolina Herrera, said, “In terms of edgier brands, I think the reality is these designers have a very specific idea of who they want to dress, and don’t really budge unless they feel the actress is right for their brand.” That can be a challenge for stylists, who often give input based on their clients’ preferences and the specific aspects of dressing for the red carpet — i.e., how a dress will look on camera and video or how easy it is for an actress to navigate the carpet in it.

Nicki Bidder, managing director of Starworks London — whose VIP and entertainment services division handles celebrity dressing for designer clients such as Monique Lhuillier, whom Kristen Stewart wore to the Oscars last year — said actresses tend to be more conservative at high stakes events such as the Oscars and the Golden Globes.

“In L.A., there are so many red-carpet events that I think they do take risks during the year, but when it comes to the Oscars and Globes, then there’s more of a conservative push,” she said. “It’s almost like the stakes are raised at this time of year and gowns are the order of the day — it’s very much a black-tie event and people are a little bit risk averse when you’re talking about viewing figures on that scale.

“I think there’s an equal balance between being conservative enough to be classically beautiful and making sure you never get on that worst-dressed list, but also taking enough of a risk, and I think that’s where color comes in,” said Bidder.

As seen at this month’s Golden Globes, a number of actresses, from newbies like Emma Stone to A-listers like Angelina Jolie, made a big impact in minimal silhouettes and major colors.

George Kotsiopoulos, a former New York Times magazine staffer who has styled Kate Hudson and Freida Pinto and now does preshow commentary for the E network, said, “If you want to get press, you wear color. If you don’t, you wear black. If you are Julia Roberts, you can wear black all you want, but if you are an up-and-comer, you generally don’t.”

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