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Oscars style: Stars play it safe on the red carpet

From pretty in pinks to old Hollywood glamour, celebs stuck to tried and tested fashion choices at the biggest night of the awards season, writes Meadhbh McGrath

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Saoirse Ronan poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Saoirse Ronan poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Mike Blake

REUTERS

Saoirse Ronan poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Mike Blake

If you were to sum up the 2020 Oscars red carpet in one word, it would have to be "safe". This year's awards season has been unusually short, with the grand finale arriving a few weeks earlier than normal. But Hollywood's biggest night landed with a thud, capping off a season of disappointingly dull frocks.

For the second year running, the red carpet turned pink. But while 2019's mood board seemed to be Villanelle's massive tulle gown from Killing Eve, this year's attendees drew inspiration from a more vintage look: Marilyn Monroe's iconic hot pink strapless column from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, dripping with diamonds - though none of the Oscar guests had quite the same impact.

Pink was the dominant shade on Sunday night, from the vibrant magenta of Parasite actress Park So-Dam's tiered pleats and Idina Menzel's strapless J Mendel gown to Regina King's flawless powder pink Versace and Laura Dern's pale satin Armani Privé, embellished with beaded bust tassels, not to mention the bubblegum confection on 10-year-old Julia Butters (complete with a turkey sandwich in her handbag - evidently not a fan of the vegan sushi).

Monaghan actress Caitriona Balfe snapped up the opening look from last month's Valentino couture show, an airy pastel chiffon blouse over a black mermaid-hem skirt, and Brie Larson delivered bombshell glamour in a glittering blush pink dress and matching cape by Celine.

Marilyn's beloved diamonds also enjoyed a bigger outing than we've seen in recent years, with the statement necklace making a remarkable return. In red carpet interviews, Mindy Kaling and Idina Menzel revealed their knockout jewels came with their own bodyguards, while Julia Louis-Dreyfus allowed her Harvey Winston necklace to shine, paired with a simple royal blue satin dress by Vera Wang.

Joker actress Zazie Beetz made a striking debut at her first Oscars, thanks to her show-stopping hair, Thom Browne outfit and plenty of Bulgari jewels. After a season of unpredictable style swerves, including a bowl cut, lime green dress and a glittering sports bra, Charlize Theron fell back on classic Hollywood glamour, in a sweeping, structured black Dior gown finished with a whopper of a diamond around her neck (and many more intricate stones decorating her ears).

Others took steps to modernise the look, such as Kaitlyn Dever, who wore a very va-va-voom Vuitton gown and satin shawl. The scarlet hue and contrasting purple beading made it feel fresh, and she noted on the red carpet that it was part of a collaboration with Red Carpet Green Dress and Tencel, in a drive for more sustainable evening wear (although whether a custom-made gown, jetted over from a Paris atelier, counts as "completely sustainable" is up for debate).

Sustainability may be the biggest buzzword in fashion at the moment, but it was a muted one on the red carpet, with the exception of Dever and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood costume designer Arianne Phillips, who wore an old Oscars dress restyled by Jeremy Scott of Moschino.

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Caitriona Balfe poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Caitriona Balfe poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

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Laura Dern poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Eric Gaillar

Laura Dern poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Eric Gaillar

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Billy Porter poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Billy Porter poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

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Zazie Beetz poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Zazie Beetz poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

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Brie Larson arrives at the Oscars, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Brie Larson arrives at the Oscars, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

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Charlize Theron poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Charlize Theron poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

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Kaitlyn Dever poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Kaitlyn Dever poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

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Billie Eilish arrives at the Oscars, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Billie Eilish arrives at the Oscars, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

One of the most exciting outfits of the night came from Saoirse Ronan, in a stunning black and periwinkle Gucci design, created using some of the same fabric as her sustainable Baftas dress. Ronan brought some much-needed personality to the often numbingly mundane red carpet, aided by head-turning looks from Janelle Monae, in a hooded Ralph Lauren gown covered in 168,000 Swarovski crystals and Billy Porter, in 24k gold feathers by Giles Deacon.

Billie Eilish stayed true to her signature style, offering her take on the quintessential Chanel bouclé suit. Next to that, Scarlett Johansson's fringed bustier gown and Penelope Cruz's high-low '90s throwback failed to make an impression. Maybe it's time for this notoriously fussy event - and its A-list attendees - to stop taking themselves quite so seriously.

Irish Independent