After downplaying the glam – and isn’t that really what the show’s all about? – for the last two years due to 9/11 and then the war in Iraq, the Academy Awards promise to be in full glitz mode this year:
- Celebrities will be strutting the red carpet again after Oscar organizers scrapped its glitzy arrivals area last year in deference to the U.S.-led war effort in Iraq. With the passage of time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences figured it was safe to make merry again for the 76th annual Oscars. [AP]
- This year’s main Oscar cause celebre is shaping up to be environmentally friendly automobiles, with several stars eschewing limousines and SUVs in favor of electric cars or gasoline-electric hybrids. Among them are nominees Diane Keaton , Marcia Gay Harden , and Keisha Castle-Hughes, 13, star of “The Whale Rider” and the youngest contender ever for best actress.
But the Oscars will be anything but austere. A year after organizers literally rolled up the red carpet and kept fans away from arrivals in keeping with somber wartime sentiments, the glitz is back in full force.
Spectator bleachers have been reinstalled, along with 500 feet of red carpet along Hollywood Boulevard, and comedian Joan Rivers will return with her equally tart-tongued daughter, Melissa, to dish out fashion commentary for pre-show viewers. [Reuters]
And then there’s Joan Rivers:
- Since 1996, celebrities have strolled down the Academy Awards (news – web sites) red carpet trembling in fear of being lambasted by Rivers or her daughter, Melissa, as they work their popular pre-Oscar fashion shtick for the E! Network.
But actresses now hire armies of dress designers, plastic surgeons, hairdressers and stylists to face the fashion-police glare of Rivers and others on Oscar night.
“Unfortunately, I think they’re playing it safer because of us. I think we should get an award from the stylists of America,” sighs Rivers.
Love ’em or hate ’em, the Rivers’ red-carpet rants have turned the awards into more about what celebs wear than what they win. Actors can go home without one of the coveted statuettes, but Gawd Fohbid, as Rivers would muse in her New York accent, that they should be the butt of her sartorial slings.
And whether one admits it or not, the Rivers’ foul-mouthed, off-colored, live pre-show, where every star is fair game for their acid-tongued reviews, has become the guilty viewing pleasure of millions, setting ratings records year after year.
….The Riverses themselves are often the butt of jokes for their often tacky guerilla-style humor and for mixing up celebrities and designer names. They both shrug off the criticism.
“We are the No. 1 pre-show. People watch us because we’re fun, we’re entertaining and we’re human,” says Rivers.
“Yeah, I challenge anybody to stand there and not make any mistakes,” says her daughter.
Both likened the Red Carpet to a battle zone. “It’s truly full metal jacket. This is the one where you’re not fooling around and no one is your friend. If you get Nicole Kidman and BBC doesn’t, they’ll kill you to get her,” said the elder. [NY Post]
Welcome to the world of a celebrity stylist during Oscar season – one in which stealing clients, hoarding clothes, sabotaging colleagues or outfitting a client in a less-than-ideal look because the stylist has been bribed by a label, is all too commonplace.
Tonight’s golden girl Charlize Theron – the odds-on favorite for Best Actress – is one A-lister who has managed to stay above the fray: she is honoring a long-standing commitment to pal Cindy Evans, whom she promised she would hire if she was ever nominated for an Academy Award. Theron is believed to be wearing Yves St. Laurent tonight.
Yet such fidelity and above-board behavior is a rarity.
While few will ever go on the record, stylists’ dirty tricks – on behalf of them and their clientele – are an open secret in Hollywood.
One popular undermining technique, according to many: One stylist will borrow dresses that she has no intention of having her clients consider – so that actresses will be forced to work with her and other actresses won’t look as good as her clientele.
“There’s a group of stylists known as The Hoarders,” says L.A.-based stylist Rachel Zoe Rosenzweig, who lists Jennifer Garner and Rebecca Romijin Stamos among her clients.
“They hold dresses [all week] so that no other stylist can show them to their clients,” she says. “Then they release them the Saturday night before the show – when everyone’s already chosen their [look].”
Lesser tactics include lying about a client list.
“One stylist called [in a dress] for Halle Berry – and next thing I knew, another one of their clients had it on!” says another designer’s publicist. “I don’t work with that person any more.”
Needless to say! The bitch!
- Dressing a client in a breakout Oscar gown can catapult a stylist into their own limelight: After putting Halle Berry in a red Elie Saab at the 2002 Oscars, stylist Philip Bloch became a go-to style expert for magazines and was recently featured on an episode of “Newlyweds,” working with Jessica Simpson. L’Wren Scott was responsible for outfitting Nicole Kidman in the pink Chanel confection she wore to the 2002 Oscars, elevating Scott’s profile to such a degree that she now dates Mick Jagger. Andrea Leiberman generated major buzz by putting Jennifer Lopez in a pistachio-green Valentino that was an homage to an outfit worn by Jackie O.
….”I compare the difference between stylists and actresses to the difference between a poodle and a Rotweiler,” says the owner of a downtown PR firm. “The stylist is the poodle – a little dog that makes noise to make its presence bigger. The star is the Rotweiler – it sits patiently and quietly, but you know what it’s capable of doing.”
Hollywood’s biggest and best-known stylist is Jessica Paster, who, for the 2000 Oscars, turned Best Actress nominee Hilary Swank – who won for her role as a girl masquerading as a man in “Boys Don’t Cry” – into the night’s best-dressed, with a green iridescent modern-day ballgown by Randolph Duke. Since then, the actress has emerged as one of the most unlikely style arbiters in recent memory, and is often a front-row fixture at New York’s Fashion Week.
….And in the annals of bad behavior, there is The Hoarder of all hoarders.
A publicist for one Hollywood eveningwear company says that this particular stylist comes to their atelier before the Oscars and borrows the entire collection.
“She gets all the best dresses, so celebrities say, ‘Well, if I don’t go to her, I can’t get a good dress,” says the insider.
Perpetuating the vicious cycle: Designers have to work with The Hoarder because celebrities know she’s the go-to girl for great frocks: “And she only has the clients because she has the clothes,” says the publicist. [NY Post]
I didn’t know there was an “Oscar fashion coordinator“:
- Don’t expect the rich reds and purples of last weekend’s Screen Actors Guild Awards to glow on Oscar’s red carpet.
Red itself will be reserved for lips stained ruby or berry during Sunday’s Academy Awards (ABC at 8 p.m. ET/5 PT), while gowns will be resplendent in spring-inspired blushes and nudes, stylists say – all the better to match baubles colored lavender, coral and peach.
“It will be all-out glamour,” says Patty Fox, official Oscar fashion coordinator. “There will be more jewels on ears and necks than on the gowns. It’s not as much of an embellished gown” – save for the $2.5 million diamond-studded dress to be worn by Entertainment Tonight’s Maria Menounos.
Hair will continue to play off “that whole 1930s look,” says celebrity snipper Oscar Blandi, who is working with Jennifer Garner. “Wavy, not messy.”
The sleekness will extend to jewelry, where earrings are increasingly more about matchsticks (long and skinny) than chandeliers, according to diamond man Lowell Kwiat.
Stylist Phillip Bloch’s new line of crystal jewelry for Baccarat, which includes a delicate necklace and dangly earrings, was designed with the likes of Charlize Theron in mind, every designer’s “get” this year.
But perhaps the most extraordinary bling will enrobe the most unlikely extremity: the foot. Stuart Weitzman is trotting out his third pair of fantasy shoes: 4½-inch stiletto sandals adorned with more than 500 platinum-set Kwiat diamonds, including 55 carats of clear diamonds and one 5-carat stone that’s somewhere between the color of amaretto and a pumpkin. The value? $2 million.
“It’s a Cinderella story,” says Weitzman. His chosen Cinderella: country singer Alison Krauss, a 17-time Grammy winner who recorded the two nominated songs from the Cold Mountain soundtrack.
….Weitzman also has designed his first collection of shoes specifically for the Oscars, 17 styles in such materials as transparent vinyl and dyeable lace (pink is the most prevalent color), many with closed toes and open backs. He’s anticipating that two dozen or so actresses will wear his creations, including supporting-actress nominees Patricia Clarkson (in silver, to go with a nude dress) and Shohreh Aghdashloo. [USA Today]
Besides Joan and Melissa, E! will offer other voyeuristic, tawdry pleasures for the so-inclined:
- Live from the Red Carpet Academy Awards
Your favorite red carpet divas, Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers, play host to the hottest stars and riff on who’s wearing what, who’s with whom…and who’s with Mom.
Premieres: Feb. 29, 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT
Live Post-Show Academy Awards
Find out what the stars have to say and more importantly, how they party as E! catches up with the winners backstage, in the press room and as they dash to their limos. Then check out the live coverage from the hottest after-parties.
Premieres: Feb. 29, midnight-2 a.m. ET/9-11 p.m. PT
Academy Awards Live Fashion Police
Because we all know it’s not about the awards, it’s about the outfits! Watch Joan and Melissa Rivers blow the whistle on the evening’s best and, yes, worst dressed. Join them live, as they team with fashion expert Leon Hall to offer up incisive insights on the getups chosen by your favorites. It’s a must-see.
Premieres: Mon., Mar. 1, 10 p.m. ET/PT
Or a must-miss depending upon your perspective.