The Oscars After a Fashion. February 2015.

Dear Rowley,

I’ve understood flashes of Lady Gaga’s talent and danced around Bloomsbury Towers in my scanties to Poker Face more than once. But until the Oscars I don’t think I’ve appreciated her impeccable timing. Hats off to producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron for making the connection between the anniversary of The Sound of Music and an opportunity to stop the Oscars show with Gaga performing a medley of Julie Andrews’s songs from the musical.

All of us of a musical persuasion know that Dame Julie has lost her voice. But it takes a very clever producer to connect a performer like Lady Gaga with a tribute to one of the purest soprano voices of the 20th century and spin television gold. I didn’t buy Gaga’s duet album with Tony Bennett having seen her absolutely crucify The Lady Is A Tramp with Bennett on a British TV show in a dodgy dark bubble perm wig. That said the album was a huge success so what do I know?

When the Lady was introduced at the Oscars and she floated onto the stage wearing an uncharacteristically voluminous Azzedine Alaia dress and red gauntlet gloves that suggested a peregrine falcon wasn’t far off I feared the worst. Well Rowley, she rocked it out. Gaga was note perfect, she was respectful rather than singing a camp pastiche and she earned Dame Julie’s embrace and gratitude that the Lady had performed straight rather than told a joke in son.

Can’t say the same about Rita Ora now can we. Her Oscars frock was a burlesque number waiting to happen and the dress she wore to the Vanity Fair after party crude. A sheer black chiffon panel skimmed her naked body from tits to toes revealing all her tattoos making me sincerely hope she didn’t drop a Harry Winston earring and show the world her Prospect of Whitby.

I was rather perplexed by Oscars fashion in 2015. The stylists are so aware of online approval that they seem to ask too much of the actresses for the sake of a good pap shot. Poor Scarlett Johansson was strapped so tightly into an Atelier Versace emerald green hourglass gown that she couldn’t even turn to see John Travolta sneaking up behind her for an unsolicited kiss. The tight dress and flat top hair do made her look like a butch Disney witch.

The ladies who opted for nude fared little better. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Ralph & Russo couture pink one sleeve floor length column with the rose detail on the shoulder was quite literally pretty bland. Cate Blanchett not being nominated this year opted for a Maison Margiela (read John Galliano) black sleeveless column dress that might have passed muster at a Rotary Club dinner but not the Oscars. Her collar set with turquoises was a belter.

Anna Wintour was another Galliano cheerleader on the red carpet. The Maison Margiela dress she chose didn’t further Galliano’s campaign to return to the fashion fold. It didn’t fit and the bed jacket AW wore with it reminded me of a similar garment Pat Phoenix wore for her final audience with the press outside the hospital where the great lady passed. Anna Wintour is arguably the greatest Vogue editor of all time. But if the bob gets any tighter she’ll look like Cousin It.

Who looked magnificent? Meryl Streep wore a Lanvin Le Smoking with a floor-length skirt slit to the line of decency and a white open necked shirt. She looked Lauren Bacall elegant. Though many didn’t I thought that Rosamund Pike’s scarlet Givenchy siren dress slit to the thigh was a thing of great beauty as is she. Rosamund Pike is the Grace Kelly of our age. When will someone give her the parts that live up to expectations? Gone Girl is no Rear Window. 

Much was made by Best Supporting Actress winner Patricia Arquette about women’s rights. Her call for equal pay had Meryl on her feet and Jennifer Lopez leaning over in her seat to reveal two fried eggs lashed together by Elie Saab nude sequins. Any call for equality at the Oscars ceremony is entirely misplaced. The goodie bag for the nominees was worth more money than most domestic workers could earn in a decade.

Watching the Oscars ceremony this year was like a rally for a politically correct Utopia that Hollywood has done its best to contradict for decades. Host Neil Patrick Harris might have made a joke appearance in his pants but he was rather in the minority when we consider the cream of the sisterhood wearing dresses that basically presented their boobs like watermelons on a silver platter.

Many models Kate Moss included have pointed out that they are models not role models. But women in the public eye do lead by example hence the concern about Rita Ora. It is not without huge pleasure that I say the lady who took my best in show award wasn’t wasn’t nominated for an Oscar and wasn’t an actress either. What a joy to watch Sophie Hunter, married to Benedict Cumberbatch, command the red carpet.

A pregnant Sophie Hunter took to the red carpet wearing the most drop dead gorgeous red Lanvin bias cut dress that reminded me of Halston at his best. She looked divine. That dress was sport couture at its best: demure and sexy. It made Felicity Jones in that overblown beaded McQueen look like the bride’s mother and  Jennifer Lopez in Elie Saab spangles look like Billie Burke playing Glinda in The Wizard of Oz.

Pregnant Kiera Knightly looked jolly super too in a Valentino floaty gown embellished with flowers and poetry. The tiara set Medieval style on lank locks was sufficiently pretty and casual seeming to say that her priority was the child not the Oscar.