91ST ACADEMY AWARDS

Plucky and pink

RAMI MALEK IN SAINT LAURENT: Oh Malek, why? The Bohemian Rhapsody star won Best Actor, but was anything but winsome on the red carpet. Malek, 37, won his Oscar for playing Freddie Mercury - the lead singer of Queen and one of the most irreverent and
Best dressed - BILLY PORTER IN CHRISTIAN SIRIANO: The 49-year-old star of the television series Pose came to impress. In a tuxedo gown custommade by designer and Project Runway winner Siriano, Porter showed that men have the ability to work a gown as well as any woman.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE, REUTERS
MICHELLE YEOH IN ELIE SAAB: That insanely beautiful diamond bracelet would have landed Yeoh on the best-dressed list. But the rest of her look was on point as well. The 56-year-old Malaysian actress may not have been nominated for her ice-cold portrayal o
Best dressed - MICHELLE YEOH IN ELIE SAAB: That insanely beautiful diamond bracelet would have landed Yeoh on the best-dressed list. But the rest of her look was on point as well. The 56-year-old Malaysian actress may not have been nominated for her ice-cold portrayal of Singaporean taitai Eleanor Young in Crazy Rich Asians, but she still looked every bit a superstar.
RAMI MALEK IN SAINT LAURENT: Oh Malek, why? The Bohemian Rhapsody star won Best Actor, but was anything but winsome on the red carpet. Malek, 37, won his Oscar for playing Freddie Mercury - the lead singer of Queen and one of the most irreverent and
Best dressed - LADY GAGA IN ALEXANDER MCQUEEN: With this elegant black Alexander McQueen paired with opera gloves, Gaga, 32, who picked up Best Original Song for A Star Is Born, evokes Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961). She even paired the dress with the iconic Tiffany diamond – at a whopping 128.5 carats – last worn by guess who? Hepburn, of course.
DANAI GURIRA IN BROCK COLLECTION: The Black Panther cast consistently showed up in excellent redcarpet looks, but Gurira knocked it out of the park with this gold strapless gown. With the matching dangly gold earrings and long braids, there was no doubt t
Best dressed - DANAI GURIRA IN BROCK COLLECTION: The Black Panther cast consistently showed up in excellent redcarpet looks, but Gurira knocked it out of the park with this gold strapless gown. With the matching dangly gold earrings and long braids, there was no doubt the 41-year-old was a radiant queen.
ELSIE FISHER IN THOM BROWNE: The breakout star of Eighth Grade may not have been nominated for her work as an anxious teen finishing her last week of middle school, but she sure won the red carpet in her own way. Eschewing princess gowns, the 15-year-old
Best dressed - ELSIE FISHER IN THOM BROWNE: The breakout star of Eighth Grade may not have been nominated for her work as an anxious teen finishing her last week of middle school, but she sure won the red carpet in her own way. Eschewing princess gowns, the 15-year-old opted for a sleek suit-and-vest combination, shiny boots and a too-cool-forschool expression. The result? You desperately want her approval.
SPIKE LEE IN OZWALD BOATENG: Lady Gaga was not the only one paying tribute to legends on the Oscars red carpet. Director Lee, 61, who took home Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman, wore a purple number inspired by his friend Prince, who died in 201
Best dressed - SPIKE LEE IN OZWALD BOATENG: Lady Gaga was not the only one paying tribute to legends on the Oscars red carpet. Director Lee, 61, who took home Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman, wore a purple number inspired by his friend Prince, who died in 2016. The musician famously loved the colour and his hit song Purple Rain featured him in an extravagant purple suit.
ANGELA BASSETT IN REEM ACRA: Pink was a popular choice on the red carpet, with many actresses such as Sarah Paulson, Helen Mirren and Gemma Chan sporting it. But no one did it better than Bassett, 60, who turned up in a bold, pink, one-shoulder Reem Acra
Best dressed - ANGELA BASSETT IN REEM ACRA: Pink was a popular choice on the red carpet, with many actresses such as Sarah Paulson, Helen Mirren and Gemma Chan sporting it. But no one did it better than Bassett, 60, who turned up in a bold, pink, one-shoulder Reem Acra number.
RAMI MALEK IN SAINT LAURENT: Oh Malek, why? The Bohemian Rhapsody star won Best Actor, but was anything but winsome on the red carpet. Malek, 37, won his Oscar for playing Freddie Mercury - the lead singer of Queen and one of the most irreverent and
Worse dressed - LINDA CARDELLINI IN SCHIAPARELLI: Green Book’s Cardellini, 43, much like Bassett, showed up in pink. While Bassett looked like an A-lister, Cardellini’s dress looks more like two hot-pink flamingos collided on her body. Then somebody tied a sash around her waist and sent her to the Oscars. Enough said.
Worst dressed - RAMI MALEK IN SAINT LAURENT: Oh Malek, why? The Bohemian Rhapsody star won Best Actor, but was anything but winsome on the red carpet. Malek, 37, won his Oscar for playing Freddie Mercury – the lead singer of Queen and one of the most irre
Worst dressed - RAMI MALEK IN SAINT LAURENT: Oh Malek, why? The Bohemian Rhapsody star won Best Actor, but was anything but winsome on the red carpet. Malek, 37, won his Oscar for playing Freddie Mercury – the lead singer of Queen and one of the most irreverent and bold artists. The straight and narrow, blackand- white number is simply boring. And you know who famously hated being boring? Mercury.
MAYA RUDOLPH IN GIAMBATTISTA VALLI: Comedienne and former Saturday Night Live cast member Rudolph, 46, did not seem to get the memo that you cannot attend the Oscars draped in bedsheets from your grandmother’s retirement home. Not even if you fashion it i
Worst dressed - MAYA RUDOLPH IN GIAMBATTISTA VALLI: Comedienne and former Saturday Night Live cast member Rudolph, 46, did not seem to get the memo that you cannot attend the Oscars draped in bedsheets from your grandmother’s retirement home. Not even if you fashion it into a cape. Rudolph, go home. You are clearly drunk.

Men made waves in stunning silhouettes and women paraded out in a sea of pink at the Oscars

The last lap of awards season has come with the 91st Academy Awards, the most prestigious of the accolades - and red carpets.

And at this year's Oscars, which took place in Hollywood yesterday morning (Singapore time), those who embraced colour or an unusual silhouette stood out, proving that taking a gamble can be a winning move.

The early appearance of stage actor Billy Porter on the red carpet set the bar high with a custom velvet creation by designer Christian Siriano. The top was a closely cut tuxedo jacket complete with a bow tie and cummerbund, and the bottom was the billowing crinolined skirt of a ball gown. Tony Award-winning Porter, who has recently risen to mainstream fame, is the representation of queer culture pushing the boundaries for everyone else to follow.

And follow they did, as in the case of Chadwick Boseman. The actor, known for playing the titular superhero in Black Panther, has been successfully making unconventional fashion choices. His Givenchy haute couture suit - a new men's category from the French house - was richly embroidered, complete with wide trousers and a long silk scarf for subtle flair. It cut an elegant silhouette that bucked tradition.

Other standouts from the men included Stephan James (Homecoming, 2018 to present) in a scarlet velvet tuxedo. Though classic, the vibrant colour gave the actor visibility befitting a rising star. Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite) was dressed in a mohair Dior Man suit featuring a silk sash from designer Kim Jones' latest collection last month. Again, a smart twist on a classic.

Less inspiring was Rami Malek, who opted for a no-frills slim tux by Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent. He did land the perfect shiny accessory for it though - a Best Actor statuette as iconic musician Freddie Mercury in the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.

Joyous pink made numerous appearances among the women. It was on Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians) as a smocked Valentino gown complete with pockets. Her signature fashion trick recently has been understated glamour paired with the insouciant gesture of her hands in her pockets. It is refreshing, young and a paragon of modern red-carpet dressing.

 
 
 

Also in pink was Helen Mirren, who wore a custom dress by surrealist house Schiaparelli. The feather-light tulle creation had layered dimensions of orange and pink, and though simple in silhouette and free of embellishments, was accessorised with more than US$6 million (S$8.1 million) worth of jewellery.

But for it to be a trend, one must count the numbers. There was tidying maestro Marie Kondo in Jenny Packham, recent Grammy Award winner Kacey Musgraves in Giambattista Valli, maverick rapper and actress Awkwafina in DSquared2, and American Horror Story star Sarah Paulson in Brandon Maxwell.

Maybe it was a reclamation of the colour and its associated femininity. From frothy tulle to body-hugging sex appeal, there were shades and styles to tickle one pink.

On the flip side, some women ushered in a more masculine look. Comediennes Amy Poehler and Melissa McCarthy wore beautiful trousered outfits. Poehler was in an Alberta Ferretti tuxedo cut in Le Smoking style and McCarthy an old Hollywood cape-and-palazzo pant look by Brandon Maxwell. It was a breath of fresh air on the red carpet and evidence, if any was needed, that pants fit comfortably into the vocabulary of glamour.

And then there were the gowns, which have always been the bread and butter of red-carpet dressing.

This year, the arching style seemed to be pared-back classicism. There is something in the air about modest extravagance and it was showcased best in the outfits of Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born) and Glenn Close (The Wife). They were nominated for Best Actress, a category in which they have been competing against each other for the whole of this awards season.

Gaga turned up in a fairly modest black Alexander McQueen gown. It had a bit of a train and boxy padded hips, and was worn with black leather gloves and a marvel of a necklace - one which featured the Tiffany diamond, one of the world's largest yellow diamonds at 128.5 carats.

Close, on the other hand, came as an Oscar statuette. The golden number from Carolina Herrera was made of about four million beads and reportedly weighed about 19kg. The clean lines and simple silhouette balanced out the sheer material pizzazz of the dress.

Olivia Colman, who won Best Actress for her role as Queen Anne in The Favourite, had on a custom Prada gown - turtleneck A-line in green emerald silk, with an embroidered organza cape knotted at the back into a bow. Elegant and unfussy, it was a dress perfectly matched to its wearer.

• Gordon Ng is a freelance fashion writer.

• BEST DRESSED and WORST DRESSED written by Jan Lee.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2019, with the headline 'Plucky and pink'. Print Edition | Subscribe