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No wonder the carpet wasn’t red, award show fashion has become beige


Even the organizers of the Oscars have given up on the red carpet and replaced the crimson runway this year with a strip called Champagne that looked more like the dregs of a dubious California sparkling wine.

Once a highlight on the international fashion calendar, where armchair critics were treated to outrageous and extravagant displays of ego in sequins, satins and swan suits, the pre-show preening for the Academy Awards has become as predictable as an episode of Is it pie?

Memorable outfits from the Oscars past, such as Celine Dion’s back-to-front white Dior tuxedo in 1999, worn with a jolly fedora hat, Gwyneth Paltrow’s ill-fitting pink Ralph Lauren prom dress, also from 1999, and Nicole Kidman’s mink-trimmed chartreuse silk dress by John Galliano for Christian Dior in 1997 once inspired water cooler conversations, high street knock-offs and inventive Halloween costumes.

Can we look forward instead of back?

Cher in 1986 wearing a towering Bob Mackie headdress and bared midriff, designed to attract attention following her nomination by the Academy for Maskand a pure Mackie when she picked up the figurine for hit by the moon two years later, it continues to inspire designers, drag queens and Kardashians.

This year it’s already hard to remember the details of the polite outfits worn by Jennifer Connelly, Cate Blanchett, Ana de Armas and Ava DuVernay, all decked out in Louis Vuitton, as innocent advertisements for the French luxury brand.

The black-and-white era of cinema returned in tasteful dresses that largely eschew technicolor, except for Salma Hayek in copper sequins and sightings of pale pink Prada dresses.

It’s easy to blame the luxury houses for red carpet fatigue, as they’ve clung to the Academy Awards as the perfect advertising opportunity as the pages of fashion magazines recede like a Miu Miu miniskirt. After a quick scan of the Oscars winners, it seems that Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Versace and Armani are recruiting starlets the moment their names are recognizable enough to appear in a Google alert, giving them access to outfits that are guaranteed will be fawned by publications indebted to their advertising dollars.

This makes it more difficult for contemporary brands such as Area, The Blonds and Dion Lee to showcase their headline-grabbing apparel to the event’s dwindling viewership. The Armas in Lee’s motocross-inspired pants, recently worn by former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, is more likely to grab free space in your memory bank than any other Marilyn Monroe-style dress.

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