Oscars 2019 preview: And the winner is... the red carpet

This weekend’s Oscars bring award-winning fashion that can work for all. Fashion editor Stephanie Smith picks out red carpet to summer wedding looks. Plus what’s happening and when.

Friday, 22nd February 2019, 6:56 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd February 2019, 12:32 pm
METALLICS (and exaggerated ruffles). Lady Gaga - nominated in the Oscars Best Actress category - stepped out for the Grammys wearing a metallic strapless side ruffle gown by Celine by Hedi Slimane, teamed with Jimmy Choo shoes and Tiffany & Co jewellery. On her it works, not least because she keeps accessories, hair and make-up unusually low-key. But then, this lady has never been afraid of a big dress. Picture: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

What happens on the red carpet should not stay only on the red carpet. On the contrary, Hollywood finery can and should provide inspiration for anyone planning outfits for the coming spring and summer weddings, gala dinners and balls, race meetings and any other occasion for which we long to look special.

As we have already seen from The Baftas, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Golden Globes and the Grammys, the awards’ season lifts the lid on new season fashion, with the world’s leading designers all too aware that placing the right dress on the right actress (and, increasingly, actor) is worth far more than any expensive catwalk show in Milan, Paris, New York and London.

It’s not just about big statement gowns, either. Red carpet dresses showcase all the fashion trends – the new colours, shapes, types of embellishment and adornment – and this can spark ideas and inspire us all for our own special occasion dressing.

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FEATHERS (and leotards): Jada Pinkett Smith arrives at Grammy Awards - she was accompanying her son, Jaden - wearing what was basically an embellished leotard adored with a sweeping feathered train. Impressive and exotic, if a little bit showgirl, but we can see that feathers are well worth trying. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) Jada Pinkett Smith arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Admittedly, the red carpet does tend to bring us exaggerated encapsulations of these trends, often even more so these days than you’ll see on the international catwalks, but this only makes it all the better for us to understand and emulate (though perhaps with a little more restraint).

So, this year on the red carpet, note that metallics have got shinier (and more garish) while sculptural detail has become even more exaggerated – ruffles and bows are now massive, sometimes sticking out from gowns as if they don’t quite belong to them. You don’t have to do this, but you can maybe try a bolder shape than you are used to. And if you have always dreamed of wearing cascades of romantic ruffles, this is the year to do it.

This weekend’s Oscars is the biggie for both films and fashion, the culmination of months of red carpet wrangling as designers, stylists and stars all try to secure for themselves the standout moments of the night and the year, with looks that will seal their place in history.

The biggest question is, will anyone manage to upstage Lady Gaga? We suspect not.

HUGE BOWS: American actress Rachel Brosnahan, who won Best Actress TV Series Musical or Comedy for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel at the Golden Globes 2019, wears a forest green satin Erden gown that's dominated by a huge black glistening bow. Both the bow size and positioning are excellent news for all those of us who prefer to eat our dinner rather than pick at it. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire


The 91st annual Academy Awards carpet arrivals are set to begin at around midnight on Sunday night (technically Monday morning) with the ceremony kicking off at 1.30am. In the UK, the ceremony will be aired by Sky. It takes place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. There will be no main host, but a series of presenters including, it’s reported, Jennifer Lopez, Daniel Craig, Charlize Theron, Brie Larson, Whoopi Goldberg, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.

The Favourite and Roma have 10 nominations each across the categories, including in these categories:

Costume Design: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Mary Zophres); Black Panther (Ruth Carter); The Favourite (Sandy Powell); Mary Poppins Returns (Sandy Powell); Mary Queen of Scots (Alexandra Byrne)

CONFIDENT OPULENCE: Timothée Chalamet - controversially not nominated for this years Oscars for his role in beautiful Boy - hit the Baftas red carpet wearing this Haider Ackermann satin brocade jacket and matching shirt teamed with track-style side-stripe trousers and combat inspired boots. We say, this is exactly how formal meets off-duty should be done. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Actress in a Leading Role: Yalitza Aparicio, Roma; Glenn Close, The Wife; Olivia Colman, The Favourite; Lady Gaga, A Star is Born; Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Actor in a Leading Role: Christian Bale, Vice; Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born; Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate; Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody; Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Actress in a Supporting Role: Amy Adams, Vice; Marina De Tavira, Roma; Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk; Emma Stone, The Favourite; Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali, Green Book; Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman; Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born; Richard E Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?; Sam Rockwell, Vice

CRAYON BOX BRIGHTS: Regina King, nominated for the Oscars Best Supporting Actress category for If Beale Street Could Talk, emerged magnificently at the Baftas in a standout Versace gown that ticks plenty of trend boxes - starting with super-bright pink. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Best Film: Black Panther; BlacKkKlansman; Bohemian Rhapsody; The Favourite; Roma; Green Book; A Star Is Born; Vice

SEE-THROUGH SKIRTS: Lily Collins, daughter of Phil Collins, at the Baftas wearing Givenchy Haute Couture, a look that appears to feature two skirts, with a short fit-and-flare deep blue beaded jacket-dress layered over a sweeping translucent lace one. Channel this idea if you've got a long net or lace skirt in your wardrobe. So good for those can't-decide days. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire
FROTHY RUFFLES: Sweet and yet not to be trifled with, for the Baftas 2019 Rachel Weisz wore this glamorous and romantic Gucci gown composed of cascading tiers of soft ruffles. The wide boat neckline exposes skin and ensures the ruffles don't overwhelm her - something to bear in mind when attempting this look. Ian West/PA Wire
MINIMALIST: Supermodel Irina Shayk wore this simple black tuxedo suit by Burberry to the Baftas. Pared-back and elegant, it was frankly a welcome relief, what with all those sculptural shapes and frou-frou frills going on around her, and it ensured she didn't outshine the nominee and award winner Bradley Cooper (he's up for an Oscar too) - Ian West/PA Wire
STRIPED SUITING: British costume designer Sandy Powell, who is up for two Oscars for The Favourite and Mary Poppins, received her Bafta wearing this fabulously striking sheeny double-breasted trouser suit. Now this is an utterly unignorable look. Too much for a summer wedding? With a wide-brimmed hat and bags of confidence, we think not.
ONE-SHOULDER: Poldark actress Eleanor Tomlinson wearing Ralph & Russo at the Baftas - an unusual but flattering look, with the black curved panel detail narrowing both waist and hips while elongating both torso and leg. It's an idea worth bearing in mind, and the skirt would work well at any length. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire