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Pink carpet model on the 2020 Oscars

In one of the year’s most anticipated nights of fashion, the Oscars came alive with refined haute couture and pared-back Hollywood glamour Sunday night.

And while many of the year’s bolder fashion trends (bright green and orange ensembles) didn’t quite make their way onto the traditionally restrained red carpet at the Dolby Theater, a number of stars did use the occasion to show off statement sleeves and promote messages around sustainability.

Margot Robbie impressed with cuff sleeves that were completely detached from her strapless navy Chanel dress, while Sandra Oh’s dreamy pale pink sequin number by Elie Saab was embellished with shoulders made from giant puffy tulle. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” star, Julia Butters, also got in on the trend with structural shoulders on her bubblegum-pink gown by Christian Siriano.

There were various shades of pink on display, from Regina King's pale pink Versace gown (pictured) to the brighter shades worn by Idina Menzel and "Parasite" actress Park So-Dam.

There were various shades of pink on display, from Regina King’s pale pink Versace gown (pictured) to the brighter shades worn by Idina Menzel and “Parasite” actress Park So-Dam. Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Syrian director Waad al-Kateab wears a message embroidered in Arabic on her gown

Syrian director Waad al-Kateab wears a message embroidered in Arabic on her gown Credit: Getty Images

Capes were also a recurring theme, and were embraced by stars Olivia Colman and Janelle Monae. The most talked-about, however, was Natalie Portman’s Dior Haute Couture cape, which had been embroidered with names of women in the industry — including those of female directors snubbed at this year’s awards. Names included Wang (Lulu Wang of “The Farewell”), Gerwig (Greta Gerwig of “Little Women”), and Scafaria (Lorene Scarfaria of “Hustlers.”)

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Similarly, Syrian filmmaker Waad al-Kateab, whose documentary “For Sama,” about the siege of Aleppo, was nominated for Best Documentary Feature, wore a pink gown with the words “We dared to dream” and “We don’t regret asking for our dignity” embroidered in Arabic.

A brief history of the red carpet

Sustainability was the other serious issue addressed on the red carpet. As expected, Joaquin Phoenix arrived in the same Stella McCartney tuxedo he’s worn throughout the awards season in his commendable stand against textile waste. And there were a number of others who used their moment in the limelight to promote more eco-friendly practices in an industry (fashion, rather than movies) that accounts for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions.

Among them was “Booksmart” star Kaitlyn Dever, who wore a Louis Vuitton dress made with the eco-friendly fiber, Tencel. Saoirse Ronan’s custom Gucci gown featured a V-neck bodice made from black satin left over from the dress she wore to last weekend’s BAFTA Awards.

Elsewhere, there were plenty of off-the-shoulder gowns and all the expected throwback to Hollywood glamour, including Charlize Theron, who stunned in a chic custom Dior gown with thigh-high slit and a single shoulder.

Others to pull off classic looks were Renée Zellweger in a custom Armani Privé one-shoulder column gown, and, sporting a similar shade, Cynthia Erivo in a Versace ball gown with a embellished diagonal strap.

On the menswear front, however, it was a disappointingly unadventurous night. This awards season has, thus far, been rich with colored and patterned suits, experimental headwear and gender-fluid fashion, but many of the evening’s stars stuck with the tried-and-true black-tie formula.

Attendees who have ventured into more daring territory at this year’s red carpets, such as the usually colorful Taika Waititi and Billie Eilish‘s brother and producer Finneas O’Connell, kept things simple this time around in dark tailored tuxedos.

Even Timothée Chalamet, known for his flamboyant award ceremony looks, took a subdued approach in a hybrid blue Prada tracksuit-suit. His outfit quickly drew online comparisons to various professional uniforms — from paramedic to parking valet — with his red carpet photo-bomb of Margot Robbie generating more buzz than his choice of clothes.

Some attendees managed to make demure tones work in their favor, including Mahershala Ali in an all-black Ermenegildo Zegna tux, while director Spike Lee offered a rare splash of color as he paid tribute to Kobe Bryant in a purple-and-gold Gucci suit marked with the late basketball star’s jersey number.
And you can always rely on Billy Porter to bring some glamour to even the most conservative of red carpets. The “Pose” star looked like an Oscar trophy himself in a glistening gold Giles Deacon gown with sleeveless bodice, gold feathers and a floor-length skirt in a rich baroque-style print.

Scroll through the gallery for some of the night’s most memorable looks.

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