The 91st Academy Awards red carpet at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday night threw up some memorable moments and a few sassy surprises. Style statements were made, tributes were paid and ethnicities were owned and embraced. While it might not have been the most imaginative red carpet, it was one of the most inclusive. Here are some highlights:
In the wake of the #MeToo revolution, and in the era of #TimesUp, where Hollywood’s most vocal stars have used the red carpet and the dais to make feminist, political and personal statements, this season saw a statement of a different kind. In what can be construed as an ode to womanhood and empowerment, and a reaffirmation of all things feminine, Hollywood’s hautest stepped out in a colour-burst of various shades of pink, with some lashings of red. From Black Panther star Angela Bassett, who cut an arresting figure in a custom fuchsia Reem Acra gown with a sculptural bow, to Helen Mirren, who donned a sheer ombre Schiaparelli one, the power of pink was seen everywhere. Singer Kacey Lee Musgraves was a cotton candy confection in a Giambattista Valli tulle gown, Gemma Chan of Crazy Rich Asians fame chose a highlighter pink Valentino Haute Couture ensemble and Bird Box actor Sarah Paulson wore a hot pink pleated Brandon Maxwell cutout gown. But the biggest surprise of the evening came in the form of Julia Roberts, who, in her first Oscar appearance since 2014, shunned the red carpet, and went on stage to present the Best Picture Award in a stunning asymmetrical Elie Saab number.
Shot in India, Period. End of Sentence, which revolves around the stigma attached to menstruation in rural India, took home the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short and shone the spotlight on the film’s team. This included producer Guneet Monga of Sikhya Entertainment (dressed in a Tarun Tahiliani draped dhoti sari and Hanut Singh jewels) and executive producer Mandakini Kakkar, who wore a molten Gaurav Jai Gupta silver sari and handwoven graduating pattern jacket.
While the women checked all the satisfactory boxes in our red carpet review, in a severe swerve from tradition, it was the men who pulled out all the stops in the sartorial style department. In fact, Billy Porter threatened to overshadow all the attendees as he made a voluminous splash, literally, in a hybrid tuxedo gown custom-made by designer Christian Siriano. Pushing boundaries of gender binaries and defined dress codes, Porter made a case for self-expression. “Putting on those heels made me feel the most masculine I’ve ever felt in my life. It was empowering to let that part of myself free,” he told Vogue.com.
Others like Momoa, in a light pink tux, Chris Evans in blue velvet and Stephan James, in a red velvet three-piece Etro tux, also challenged formal black tie rules. We especially loved the way David Oyelowo of Black Panther gave a nod to his Nigerian roots in a green Etro tux. “As we know, it’s been the year of Wakanda,” Oyelowo told PeopleTV, referencing the fictional nation in Black Panther. “I felt it was time to celebrate a real African country, so I’m in the Nigerian colours,” he said. While Pharrell Williams wore camouflage and Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman donned a Givenchy Haute Couture jacket and wide-legged pants, it was Spike Lee, who made a statement in a purple Ozwald Boateng suit and a custom-made diamond necklace by jeweller Amedeo Scognamiglio.
Singer and performer Lady Gaga, who has cut a far more subdued and distinguished figure in her recent film career avatar — compared to her outlandish pop icon persona — accepted her Best Song award dressed in a sombre black Alexander McQueen gown with sculptural waist accents and leather opera gloves. The vintage Hollywood look was held together by a $30 million yellow diamond necklace from Tiffany & Co. What made the piece of jewellery more interesting was that it was the same 128.54 carat diamond that Audrey Hepburn had worn for publicity photos for Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961.
Game of Thrones and Aquaman star Jason Momoa made one of the bravest menswear choices of the night on the red carpet. He paid tribute to iconic fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, who recently passed away, in a light pink tuxedo that the designer had custom created for him. Wife Lisa Bonet also wore a blush ensemble in homage, from the last couture collection that Lagerfeld designed for Fendi. While Bonet accessorised the look with Fernando Jorge and Jacquie Aiche jewellery, Momoa preferred a matching pink hair scrunchie instead.