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Brilliantly bonkers or elegantly boring: what does it take to be best-dressed at the Oscars?

oscars 2023 red champagne carpet fashion after party
oscars 2023 red champagne carpet fashion after party

When the Oscars invitation drops, celebrities have, essentially, two options when it comes to what to wear; either look sleek and sophisticated – pinning Grace Kelly to their mood boards and hoping for the best – or look to go viral with something eye-catching and exciting. Or, to put it more bluntly, aim for boring or bonkers. I must stress that this is not necessarily bad-boring or bad-bonkers – though it can go that way.

At Sunday night’s awards, there was an early victory for Camp Boring when the usually striking red carpet was swapped for an elegantly bland champagne-hued one – was this the epitome of understated chic or a disaster for clean freaks the world over, some of whom charted their angst at the carpet’s increasing dirtiness on social media as the evening wore on? Rug Doctors will be selling like hotcakes as a result.

It appeared that some attendees and their stylists had received the champagne memo and gone with the theme. They looked undeniably lovely if, ultimately, a bit yawn-inducing.

The most beautifully boring of them all had to be Michelle Yeoh, the Best Actress winner in a delicate white feathered gown by Dior. She was joined by fellow Everything Everywhere All At Once star Jamie Lee Curtis, who won Best Supporting Actress, in a subtly sparkly corseted Dolce and Gabbana design. “I’m dressed like a glass of pink champagne and sparkling apple cider,” she declared on Instagram, evoking a combination which would make anyone in their right mind swear off drinking for the night.

Yeoh celebrates her win in a white feathered Dior gown - Getty
Yeoh celebrates her win in a white feathered Dior gown - Getty

More winners in the delightful but dull category included Michelle Williams in ethereal Chanel, Jessica Chastain in twinkly Gucci, and Ana de Armas in a ruffled Louis Vuiton number – thought to be a reference to Marilyn Monroe’s famous naked dress but which lacked the va-va or the voom to really compete with that piece of fashion history. Zoe Saldana’s lingerie-inspired Fendi Couture was pretty enough but she was in danger of slipping into obscurity amid the dozens of other looks of the night.

Jessica Chastain was delightful but dull twinkly Gucci - Getty
Jessica Chastain was delightful but dull twinkly Gucci - Getty

Over in Camp Bonkers, there was little risk of Olivia Williams’s after-party outfit going without comment. In a way, she bridged the boring-bonkers divide in a sleek white gown by Gabriela Hearst except, as my grandmother might say, it looked like they’d forgotten to attach the dress’s top left hand side, leaving a leather bra exposed – punchy.

Tracee Ellis Ross has never been a shrinking violet fashion-wise but there was a lot going on, even for her, with her Balmain hat/capelet/velvet jumpsuit/opera gloves concoction at the after party.

Tracee Ellis Ross arrives at the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Tracee Ellis Ross arrives at the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party

Then came the Quality Street contingent. Best Supporting Actress nominee Angela Bassett was unmistakably The Purple One in her glorious sculptural Moschino gown while Cara Delevingne went Strawberry Delight in a show-stopping 
Elie Saab creation featuring a thigh split straight out of the Angelina Jolie guide to wearing a memorable Oscars gown. Salma Hayek was in ultra-glamorous form as an Orange Crunch vision in her sequined Gucci creation.

Cara Delevingne in a dress by Ellie Saab - Getty
Cara Delevingne in a dress by Ellie Saab - Getty

When you’re in Camp Bonkers, it’s all about owning the look, something Yara Shahidi did with aplomb in her Bottega Veneta strapless dress and gloves which were both strewn with giant petal-like red sequins – it could have so easily veered into lobster costume territory but she kept it looking merely avant-garde.

Yara Shahidi was avant-garde in Bottega Veneta - Getty
Yara Shahidi was avant-garde in Bottega Veneta - Getty

And finally the new queen of brilliantly bonkers Hollywood style is Florence Pugh who worked with Valentino for her two Oscars ensembles, each comprising acres of taffeta crafted into looks with sleeves so voluminous they’d require their own seats (pity the people sat beside her in the ceremony), one in pretty pink, the other in what can only be described as champagne, proving the hue can be full of fizz in the right hands.