Red Carpet’s Big Bust: Fashion Counts Cost Of Hype-Less Oscars

If a star wears your gown to the Oscars, but no one knows who’s name is on the label, was the investment worth it? So far, most designers say yes.

The magazine’s Oscar after-party remained the one hope for glamour, even though it was widely known that its red carpet had also been pulled and photo opportunities were limited to an in-house photographer. Nicole Kidman (in Jean Paul Gaultier Couture), Diane Lane (in Oscar de la Renta), Cameron Diaz (in Prada) and Julianne Moore (in Yves Saint Laurent) all turned out at Vanity Fair’s decidedly more somber event at Morton’s Sunday night. "Fashion houses kept calling me all week offering more demure dresses," said L’Wren Scott, who styled all three actresses but kept close to Moore and Tom Ford at the party. "I said, ‘My girls were sticking with their original choices.’"

Indeed, when the abridged pre-show began on ABC, the fashion media was caught slightly off guard at the sight of Zellweger in her ruby Herrera and Jennifer Garner in her pastel blue Versace. "The expectation was that it was going to be a sea of black," said Los Angeles Times fashion editor Booth Moore, "and, as we reported, the celebrities seemed to stick to Plan A, going with spring’s trend toward bright colors. It became news."

"Everyone kept wondering all week what everybody else was wearing so they wouldn’t be inappropriate," said a Chanel spokeswoman. "There was a lot of panic. But in the end, there was more panic than switching of dresses." As for the French house being a no-show on the Oscar red carpet this year (Amanda Peet wore a white Chanel to the Vanity Fair party), the spokeswoman explained it away as being a matter of an early couture showing and private clients who didn’t want to see their looks on the red carpet.

Particularly affected, however, were the jewelry houses that were banking on this being the big show’s diamond anniversary. Save for the Harry Winston ice around Queen Latifah’s neck, the trend that emerged was chandelier earrings and cocktail rings in less blatant sapphires, coral and emeralds — and with only a sprinkling of diamonds.

Like her competitors, Mara Leighton of Fred Leighton, remained optimistic Monday. "Did we have to work harder? We always work hard. But I think it made what we were doing even more important this year. I think the press had to dig deeper — we got a lot more direct calls from the media, who often go with what they hear on the red carpet. But I don’t think this will affect our business that much. Our pieces are mostly one-of-a-kind and we just like to show people that vintage and estate jewelry can be relevant to today’s fashion. I think we will have accomplished that."
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