Was this the worst evening in Oscars style historical past?

Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

This week marks twenty years since Hollywood served up one in every of its worst-received crimson carpets of all time. On an evening of massive wins for “A Stunning Thoughts” and the primary “Lord of the Rings,” 2002’s Academy Awards have been — in true Y2K type — awash with spaghetti straps, seen midriffs and shapeless eveningwear.
On the time, former Cosmopolitan editor Marcelle d’Argy Smith branded it a “evening of style blunders,” earlier than calling out a number of stars for his or her efforts. Julia Roberts, in a black Armani robe, seemed “boring”; Whoopi Goldberg, who hosted the ceremony dressed like a glittering peacock, introduced “a sort of circus factor to the proceedings”; and Barbra Streisand was “swathed” in a velvet burgundy “wrap/tent/curtain.”

Extra damming critiques have been saved for the yr’s greatest supporting actress, Jennifer Connelly, who opted for a dishwater-colored tulle robe and not-quite-matching scarf (a shade described by Smith as “pale dung-colored,” and by Scripps Howard information company as “phlegm-colored”). Elsewhere, Cameron Diaz divided opinions in a floral print costume, ’80s Oscar-nominee Sally Kirkland sported an ill-advised bejeweled bindi and Religion Hill took a painfully literal strategy by teasing her efficiency of “Someplace Over the Rainbow” with a strappy rainbow-colored Versace robe.

Variously described as “pale dung-colored” and “phlegm-colored,” Jennifer Connelly’s robe was one of many evening’s many flops. Credit score: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Photographs

The evening will, nevertheless, all the time be remembered for one of the vital maligned outfits in Oscars historical past: Gwyneth Paltrow’s notorious “goth” costume (pictured high). The formless Alexander McQueen creation featured a scrunched-up taffeta skirt and sheer bodice that left little to the creativeness. The actress’ heavy eye make-up and milkmaid braid helped safe the outfit’s place on “worst-dressed” lists for years to come back.

In a characteristically slicing overview of the night’s appears, long-time Vogue editor Suzy Menkes, then of the Worldwide Herald Tribune, wrote that the evidently bra-less Paltrow “seemed like she was off to see her private coach.” (She additionally described Connolly as being “drear as a drowned nymph”). The Guardian’s style author Jess Cartner-Morley in the meantime wrote that the star “got here a cropper” in “gap-year plaits, goth eye make-up and clunky jewellery.”

There was, arguably, worse to come back. On the Self-importance Honest afterparty, “Meet Joe Black” star Claire Forlani wore what can solely be described as a sequined breastplate held up by perilously skinny string ties; Selma Blair arrived in a barely-there fringe costume that seemed extra like a shabby tablecloth and Heather Mills opted for a weird midriff-bearing two-piece. Actress and creator Suzanne Somers’ costume may simply have doubled up as low cost curtains, and TV host Daisy Fuentes confirmed up in denims and a shirt, as if she had forgotten it was one in every of Hollywood’s most unique events.

The afterparty saw even more classic Y2K style, like Claire Forlani's open-backed crop top.

The afterparty noticed much more traditional Y2K type, like Claire Forlani’s open-backed crop high. Credit score: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Photographs

Most boring ‘of all time’

What actually irked style critics was not the well-intentioned flops, however the collective lack of ambition. Only a yr after Björk’s unforgettably eccentric swan costume, 2002’s crimson carpet felt like a meek, low-risk affair.
This may occasionally have been for good motive. Held simply six months after the 9/11 assaults, the occasion was engulfed by hyped-up safety and an understandably restrained ambiance. Armed police stood guard, stars have been despatched by steel detectors and fashion-watchers who have been fortunate sufficient to safe a seat on the crimson carpet needed to endure new background checks, the LA Instances reported. In line with the nationwide temper, quite a few stars arrived in respectfully low-key robes, with Reese Witherspoon, Glenn Shut, Helen Hunt and Renée Zellweger among the many many celebrities to put on black that evening.

This was no excuse for Menkes, nevertheless. Calling attendees’ efforts “essentially the most boring Oscar outfits of all time,” the critic singled out Naomi Watts’ unadventurous corseted costume from a “sea of black,” writing that “even Gucci, normally a lifeless cert for horny garments” had made the star look “sedate.”

Naomi Watts was one of several stars opting for low-risk black gowns.

Naomi Watts was one in every of a number of stars choosing low-risk black robes. Credit score: KMazur/WireImage/Getty Photographs

Samantha Critchell, then a style author for the Related Press, was extra diplomatic, describing the night’s crimson carpet as one in every of “conservative” style on which “many stars performed it secure.” Wanting again, 20 years on, she attributed their type selections to not 9/11, however to trepidation surrounding the surging curiosity in crimson carpet type.
“Within the early 2000s, style grew to become a microcosm for the remainder of the world,” she instructed CNN in a telephone interview. “I began protecting the crimson carpet with Jennifer Lopez’s how-did-it-stay-closed Versace robe (on the 2000 Grammys) — we did not do ‘night-of’ protection of the style within the ‘hard-news’ media till that second.

“There grew to become a realization that these clothes have been going to outline you. And I believe it had extra to do with the rise of style as a pop-culture drive — and a real-time drive — and realizing that individuals have been sat at dwelling judging these outfits.

“There was no E! and no pre-show till then, and I believe that selections have been in all probability safer due to not figuring out methods to navigate that.”

As for the riskier appears, Critchell theorized that many celebrities have been “taking part in towards kind” by providing one thing surprising or completely different from earlier outings. Nicole Kidman’s frilly pink Chanel robe contrasted with the elegant chartreuse Dior costume she famously wore to 1997’s ceremony, whereas Jennifer Lopez’s traditional robe and bouffant coiffure was juxtaposed towards the raunchier appears she’d turn out to be identified for.

Sally Kirkland sports a bejewled bindi as part of her gold-and-silver look.

Sally Kirkland sports activities a bejewled bindi as a part of her gold-and-silver look. Credit score: David Lefranc/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Photographs

Even Paltrow’s outfit could be seen as an try to keep away from being pigeonholed, Critchell mentioned. “She had been the princess just a few years earlier than (in 1999) in that pink Ralph Lauren costume, and I believe she was taking part in towards that,” she added.

“Celebrities did not have an opportunity to point out their different sides in the way in which they do now. You already know them, you what their type is, their opinion on every little thing. Nevertheless it wasn’t unusual in 2002, or any of these different (pre-social media) years, for somebody to play towards what they did earlier than, as a result of they did not need to be stereotyped.”

Rays of hope

There have been a handful of hits amid the flops that evening. Kate Winslet’s one-shouldered Ben de Lisi costume was extensively praised, and the night’s males fared higher amongst critics, with Will Smith praised for his Ozwald Boateng go well with and gold tie.
One of the night's few winners: Halle Berry in Elie Saab.

One of many evening’s few winners: Halle Berry in Elie Saab. Credit score: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Photographs

There was actually just one winner, although — on each the crimson carpet and the awards stage. On her method to turning into the primary Black girl to say the Academy Award for greatest actress, Halle Berry surprised in robe that remodeled the fortunes of its designer, Elie Saab. Like Paltrow’s outfit, it consisted of sheer high and taffeta skirt, although Berry oozed glamour in crimson and champagne, with strategically positioned floral detailing finishing the look.

“I believe Halle Berry’s outfit has stood the check of time,” Critchell mentioned. “It isn’t a costume somebody would put on right now, however she was the belle of the ball. She was predicted to win and, as style writers, we have been all ready for her flip. It fulfilled the second; it was memorable, and it was proper for a greatest actress.”

But, whereas the outfit is now thought of among the many Oscars’ best-ever appears, it wasn’t a success with everybody on the evening. The Guardian’s Cartner-Morley wrote that Berry’s outfit, full with its “gaudy embroidered web bodice,” had provided “lots to cringe about.”

Associated video: A quick historical past of the crimson carpet

Her contrarian take serves as a reminder that good crimson carpet type is within the eye of the beholder — and thus the query of whether or not 2002 was the Oscars’ worst yr relies upon, as ever, on who you ask. Certainly, given the present curiosity in all issues Y2K — a revival that has heralded the return of low-rise denims, crop tops and butterfly clips — the ability of hindsight (and the opinions of Gen-Z fashion-watchers) could also be kinder to 2002’s outing than one may anticipate.

“I do not suppose it was the worst-dressed,” Critchell mentioned. “I do not know if there would ever be a second you may outline as that. Nevertheless it was a distinct time.”

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