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96th Academy Awards: Hair-raising straps, flared tailoring and definitive peplums ruled the red carpet

By Rachel Douglass


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Fashion |In Pictures

Emma Stone in custom Louis Vuitton at the 96th Oscars. Credits: Nick Agro / ©A.M.P.A.S.

The 96th Academy Awards rounded out what was an unusually lengthy and jam-packed awards season last night, with Hollywood elite once again congregrated to celebrate the past year’s leading productions, this time at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The evening itself was filled with excitement and emotion, with everything from Ryan Gosling’s ‘I’m Just Ken’ performance to Emma Stone’s tear-jerking acceptance speech to Oppenheimer’s awards sweep keeping the audience on their toes.

Prior to the night’s beginning, however, all the stars naturally took to the red carpet, where the tailcoat and floor-length evening gown dress code defined the trends for the night. Here's what stood out at this year’s Oscars.

Mermaid-esque sheen

America Ferrera in Versace and Zendaya in Giorgio Armani Prive. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Sequins and shimmer are no stranger to the red carpet, but for the Oscars their appearance took on a sleeker form. Nominee America Ferrera’s custom Versace number, for example, stuck to a simple, form-fitting silhouette, contrasting Zendaya’s similarly pink palm-printed look, which featured a contrasting bustier of gunmetal paillettes. Silver metallics were also popular, as seen in Charlize Theron’s Dior gown, with a twisted neckline, and Olivia Munn’s minimalist look, with a floor-sweeping train.

Charlize Theron in Dior and Olivia Munn in Fendi Couture. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Pared down sequins

Margot Robbie in Versace and Greta Gerwig in Gucci. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Barbie director Greta Gerwig and the film’s leading lady Margot Robbie carried on the trend for pared down sequins in their own looks. Finally straying from her doll-inspired press tour selections that have dominated her wardrobe so far, Robbie made a distinct shift towards a darker shade in the form of a Versace piece that draped below the waist.

Sculptural black and white

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan in Zuhair Murad and Carey Mulligan in Balenciaga. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

A classic colour combo for the Oscars is that of black and white, and this remained true for this year’s edition. Such gowns took on sculptural shapes, as evidenced by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan’s full-skirted Zuhair Murad piece. Carey Mulligan also favoured a statement skirt, donning a recreation of Balenciaga’s 1951 mermaid dress. Similarly, Loewe’s look for Past Lives’ Greta Lee put an emphasis on the lower half, with contrasting draping flowing out below the waist.

Greta Lee in Loewe. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Something about the sleeves

Ashley Yi in Waad Aloqaili and Ariana Grande in Giambattista Valli. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

The trend for exaggerated sleeving that has dominated this awards’ season continued for the Oscars, through bold shaping and statement caping. The latter was uplifted by both Ashley Yi in Waad Aloqaili and singer Ariana Grande in custom Giambattista Valli, both of which opted for sleeves that also served as shawls. First-time Oscar winner Da’Vine Joy Randolph made her own statement in a Louis Vuitton gown with feathered off-the-shoulder sleeving, while Sandra Hüller’s sculptural Schiaparelli look bore a resemblance to a look worn by socialite Millicent Rogers in 1947. Wicked’s Cynthia Erivo contrasted such with a leather-look Louis Vuitton gown, for which the ruffled sleeves trailed down the back through to the train.

Da'Vine Joy Randolph in Louis Vuitton and Sandra Hüller in Schiaparelli. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.
Cynthia Erivo in Louis Vuitton. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Hair-raising straps

Emily Blunt in Schiaparelli and Florence Pugh in Del Core. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

One of the more interesting trends for the evening was the appearance of elevated straps, with such a feature descending from two different designers, making it even more notable. Oppenheimer co-stars Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh were those championing the fascinating silhouette – Blunt in a shimmery Schiaparelli number, Pugh in a metallic Del Core gown with a beaded bustier.

Waist definition

Emma Stone in Louis Vuitton. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

While many put an emphasis on the sleeving, there were some attendees that instead stuck to defining the waist. Emma Stone led the charge in this area. The now two-time Oscar winner once again stuck to Louis Vuitton, which provided the star with a jacquard, texturised gown that flared out at the waist in a peplum format. A similar look was sported by Gabrielle Union, who opted for a sparkly Carolina Herrera piece that also favoured contrasting shaping. Anya Taylor-Joy, meanwhile, stayed true to her Dior ambassadorship, wearing a scallop-layered look from the house that referenced its iconic Venus gown.

Anya Taylor-Joy in Dior and Gabrielle Union in Carolina Herrera. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Colour of the evening: Baby blue

Ava DuVernay in Louis Vuitton and Lupita Nyong'o in Armani Prive. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

If there was one colour that stood out among the rest it was that of baby blue. As already seen in Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s feathered sleeve look, the pastel tone was one of the favourites among attendees. It could be seen on Ava DuVernay’s own Louis Vuitton gown, complete with oversized buckled straps, as well as the Armani piece worn by Lupita Nyong’o, for which pale blue feathers trailed the floor. Hailee Steinfeld was another to exhibit a show stopping look, her own by Elie Saab with 3D florals traversing the bodice and cuffs.

Hailee Steinfield in Elie Saab. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Minimalist LBDs

Vanessa Hudgens in Vera Wang and Jamie Lee Curtis in Dolce & Gabbana. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

LBDs always have a place on award show red carpets, and it was no different for this year’s Oscars. What was specific about this event, however, was the more minimalist take on the classic dress, with those sporting the look sticking to simple, yet elegant shapes that went without excessive accessories. Vanessa Hudgens offered up a prime example of such in her figure-hugging Vera Wang gown, while Eva Longoria’s Tamara Ralph piece also touched on dramatic sleeving, with a pointed off-the-shoulder neckline.

Mary Steenburgen and Eva Longoria in Tamara Ralph. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Side sweeps

Lily Gladstone in Gucci and Danielle Brooks in Dolce & Gabbana. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Akin to the dramatic trains of Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Olivia Munn, nominees Lily Gladstone and Danielle Brooks were two others to endorse chic trains. While Brooks’ Dolce & Gabbana look combined corsetry, bows and a thigh-high leg slit, Gladstone’s Gucci piece took on a more minimalist column-like shape. The look was designed in collaboration with Indigenous designer Joe Big Mountain of Ironhorse Quillwork, whose input could be seen in the floral designs traversing the cape in a porcupine quilled zig-zag stitch, among other details.

Tailoring with a flare

Bradley Cooper and Colman Domingo in Louis Vuitton. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

For many of the men, the Oscars was an androgynous affair. Louis Vuitton dressed both Bradley Cooper and Colman Domingo each in double-breasted blazers and subtly flared trousers. Such flared tailoring was also seen on Oscar winner Robert Downey Jr., who opted for a Saint Laurent look with padded shoulders, and Simu Liu, whose Fendi AW24 two piece was brought to life with a subtle brooch clasp.

Robert Downey Jr. in Saint Laurent and Simu Liu in Fendi. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Skirt suits

Celine Song in Loewe and Billie Eilish in Chanel. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Other forms of tailoring were present in the occasional skirt suit. Past Lives director Celine Song exhibited a Loewe two-piece for her own outfit, while Oscar winner Billie Eilish opted for a Chanel look, sticking close to her tendency towards unconventional red carpet attire. The mid-length tweed skirt was paired with a fitted blazer and a small gingham handbag.

Neon hues

Brittany Snow in Monot and Leah Lewis. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

While bold colourways are typically not given a place on the Oscars red carpet, there were some that dared to dream in striking neon hues. Brittany Snow was among those, sporting a saturated yellow gown by Monot, while Leah Lewis’ bright pink piece transcended rigid silhouettes through the use of wispy, feathered materials.

Dramatic reds

Liza Koshy in Marchesa and Melissa McCarthy in Christian Siriano. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Red had arguably already secured its place of the colour of this awards’ season at other events, however its reign did not end for the Oscars. In fact, when seen, it came in dramatic forms that stood out among the more conservative shapes exhibited otherwise. Exaggerated fishtail silhouettes, for example, were seen on the likes of influencers Liza Koshy and Haley Kalil. Meanwhile, Eugene Lee Yang’s Walter Collection piece combined both elements of an A-line gown and a tailored blazer.

Haley Kalil in Marc Bouwer and Eugene Lee Yang in Walter Collection. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Polka dots

Leslie Bibb in Dolce & Gabbana and Jennifer Lawrence in Dior. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

A fun addition to this year’s red carpet was the polka dot, a style that is not entirely common for award shows but offered a refreshing alternative to other styles present. Leslie Bibb’s Dolce & Gabbana gown brought this look to the forefront, combining the print with a deep V-neck and long-winded train. Jennifer Lawrence, meanwhile, opted for a look from Dior’s Haute Couture SS24 collection, which saw the polka dot encapsulated on a moiré fabric A-line.

Red carpet gloves

Becky G in Vera Wang and Michelle Yeoh in Balenciaga. Credits: ©A.M.P.A.S.

Carrying on from Carey Mulligan’s black glove look, the accessory was also favoured by Becky G and Michelle Yeoh, both of whom combined the piece with sparkly gowns. Becky G’s Vera Wang piece brought together a sheer, shimmery bustier with a twisted silky skirt, while Michelle Yeoh stayed faithful to her Balenciaga ambassadorship in a heavily sequined gown.

Read more from awards' season:
Academy Awards
Red carpet