As the grand finale of the awards circuit, the Oscars red carpet razzmatazz is one of the most anticipated and star-studded style events of the year – and arguably the most intensely scrutinised of the year. Last year, awards season was politically charged as the Hollywood elite used it to portray a seismic shift in culture and protest fashion coming to the fore.
For the 91st Academy Awards at Hollywood Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday it was business as usual in the form of bright bolts of colour and svelte styles, a return to unabashed glamour – and a showcase of one-of-a-kind extravagant dresses.
It was a red carpet memorable for cutting through the safe style space, thwarting the usual bland and inoffensive Oscar fashion choices.
Pose star Billy Porter, who added infinitely to fashion memes, led the decadence in a scene-stealing extraordinary velvet tuxedo gown by Christian Siriano.
It was a night on which the women wore the trousers, quite literally, with Diane Warren, Elise Fisher and Melissa McCarthy opting for two-piece tailoring.
If there was a theme for the dresses, there was a preponderance of Killing Eve character Villanelle tinged pink tulle styles: Gemma Chan wore a straight-of-the-couture-runway Valentino tiered dress complete with pockets, country music singer Kacey Musgraves chose frothy pink Giambattista Valli and Angela Basset wore a one-shoulder shocking pink Reem Accra gown.
Powdery pastels were also a popular, with Charlize Theron opting for a dusty blue Dior gown, with her darker locks paired with red lipstick giving the right amount of contrast to the sweet shade. Red-carpet newcomer Laura Harrier opted for stylish and sustainable in her embellished blue gown by Louis Vuitton which was created from eco-friendly sourced materials.
But she wasn’t the only star that opt for shiny, pretty number. Abandoning the usual trepidation and style bashfulness, many A-listers continued with statement shimmering looks – particularly of the silver, slinky disco ball variety – in fact, Jennifer Lopez’s mirror-tiled Tom Ford column gown had the appearance of one. Brie Larson, Amy Adams, and Emma Stone all chose form-fitting glittering gowns.
Stone’s Louis Vuitton sculptural copper style divided opinion on social media, becoming perfect meme fashion fodder, with many comparing her dress to everything from waffles to bacon.
The over-70s showed the youngsters how it was done, ticking the pink and metallic memo, with Glenn Close opting for Oscar-statuesque gold cape gown by Wes Gordon at Carolina Herrera, and Helen Mirren in a flowing pink number by Schiaparelli Haute Couture.
Fashion risks continued from Rachel Weisz in a patent red and floral Givenchy gown. If Beale Street Could Talk actor Stephan James proved you don't have to stick to a neutral coloured tux, pushing the boundaries for men's fashion in a velvet red custom tux by Etro.
Playing it safe in shade, supermodel Ashley Graham was a stylish front-runner in her sleek black sculptural Zac Posen dress complete with fishtail.
Lady Gaga, too opted for black, although sombre in colour, it was all fashion in shape, with exaggerated hip detail and long leather gloves completing the avant garde Princess look from the singer-turned-actress.
Olivia Coleman continued the dark palette with quirky add-on in an emerald Prada gown complete with smoky-grey silk organza cape overlay tied in a big bow at the back. According to Vogue, Miuccia Prada wove a royal token in to Coleman's bag as a regal nod to her role in The Favourite and her next role as Queen Elizabeth in The Crown.