After two days of rain, the sky had efficiently cleared Sunday, and the actresses would be free to bare their backs, breasts, shoulders and midriffs, if not yet their souls.
Amy Adams arrived in a deep navy opaque Gucci column with four symmetrical flaps that appeared more protective than decorative: It seemed a correction of sorts to all the freewheeling late-disco cleavage she has displayed this season while promoting American Hustle. “It felt like me,” she said of the outfit.
This time it was Lupita Nyong’o, a star of 12 Years a Slave and the fashion industry’s sudden darling, who chose a gasp-inducing neckline: Almost to the navel, this daring was counteracted by the Prada dress’s demure pale-blue pleated chiffon (“The blue reminds me of Nairobi,” Nyong’o said). Despite the childish, sparkly headband she wore with it, this was possibly the best Hollywood moment for the house since Uma Thurman emerged in pale lilac almost 20 years ago.
Sandra Bullock, the star of Gravity, also wore a blue gown, from Alexander McQueen — a deep midnight, appropriately astronomical, shade.
Jennifer Lawrence didn’t disappoint in a $2 million, 100-carat diamond necklace from Neil Lane to accent her girl-on-fire orange-red strapless dress from Dior.
Cate Blanchett seemed somewhat stiff in an uncharacteristically busy Armani Privé gown of nude mesh and floppy sequins that, if chopped above the knee, would have at least been a satisfying figure skating outfit. On her ears were 33 carats of opal in a huge drop design.
Muted colours, like those worn by Blanchett and Nyong’o’s ice blue, were one of the night’s big trends, said Estee Stanley, a stylist who worked with Portia de Rossi, in a regal Naeem Khan halter with beads and lace, and Jessica Biel, dressed in a metallic sparkler from Chanel dripping with jewellery from Tiffany.
Probably anticipating the competitive rush of clavicles, Naomi Watts was covered up in cap-sleeved, heavily encrusted white Calvin Klein that, true to the label’s heritage, bore some resemblance to an overgrown T-shirt. Sally Hawkins ducked from underneath hanks of hair — all but apologising, adorably, for her heavily embroidered Valentino. “Thank you for speaking to me,” she said, like a scullery maid invited to the ball.
But for the ultimate in comfort, there was the all-too-occasional ahhh of pants — Liza Minnelli in cobalt satin pajamas, accessorised with (was this a pun?) a blue streak; and the ceremony’s host, Ellen DeGeneres, looking natty in a series of Saint Laurent tuxedos for which she thanked the designer, Hedi Slimane, by first name.