Rule: don’t be afraid of formal bling

In Uncategorized on March 1, 2011 at 6:00 pm

The gorgeous Julianne Moore correctly blinged up.

Last week this blog was all about taking it off. Paring it down. Keeping it sweet. Less is more. Even less is masses.

But like all the best rules, there is one exception to this, when you actually want to bling it up to the max: big formal occasions. Like the award ceremonies which reached their peak with Sunday’s Academy Awards.

Studying the form at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs over the past month I have noticed a continuation of a theme which first surfaced last year. Outfits which look, to my eye, a little undercooked.

Nicole Kidman looking undercooked at the Golden Globes.

This has a lot to do with the ascendance of the star frock. Not a dress on a star, but a dress which is a star itself.

The best thing about these occasions used to be the clips from the nominated films and the fabulous montages of bits of old ones (the dead people section).

But in recent years the filmy part of things has become overshadowed by interest in the red carpet frocks. It even matters which labels the men wear now – although since Tom Ford started dressing Colin Firth, I don’t really know why any other men bother turning up.

The dresses worn by the lady actors are so intensely scrutinised – and the best and worst so iconic in the public mind – the big luxury houses go to crazy lengths to get their gowns on the right shoulders. Or, currently, shoulder.

Meanwhile the actresses fight over the best dresses. Because the right frock on the right gal generates column inches and internet acres way beyond every publicist’s dream, for both of them. It’s win win kerching.

For the actress it’s a higher profile, with fees to match. For the designer it lodges the brand in the consumer collective unconscious in the area marked ‘Fabulous’, so the next time we’re choosing scent in a Duty Free we are inexorably drawn to their’s. Without even remembering why.

With the most gorgeous dresses in the world up for a borrow, still warm from the couture runway, Hollywood stylists (imagine the fashion version of Fronk from Father of the Bride…) squabble over them, with the frocks most coveted being whizzed around between actresses in their own limos.

All of which I think has led to a climate of over respect for the garment, as though it has some alchemical quality in itself, losing sight of the bigger picture of the outfit.

Stylists seem almost scared to accessorise, when the key thing formalwear needs is lavish amounts of fabulous jewellery. Or it’s like a Christmas tree without fairy lights.

Angelina Jolie wearing insufficient bling also at the Globes.

And considering that the glamour jewellers are as keen to get their product on the red carpet as the designers (they do perfumes too…) it’s surprising how unblinged some actresses are at the moment.

Julianne Moore has the perfect balance here. A diamond snake around one wrist (never both) and serious dangly earrings, set off by a hair do of classic Hollywood glamour. The perfect finishing touch? Her matt red lips.

Although I think I might have given her a fabulous little evening bag as well, just to add a little more interest to the frock in the mid zone, because even on a relatively petite person like Ms Moore, a floor length gown is a large expanse of one fabric.

But I’m not going to quibble with her stylist. It was Tom Ford.

  1. I became addicted to The Rachel Zoe Project (in the sort of way that one becomes addicted to a car crash) but one thing that she did really well was accessorise. It was the best part of the show when she got trays and trays of things from Van Clef or Bulgari – all of them unique museum pieces – and spent an agonising amount of time deciding on what went with what. I wonder if the trend away from overt bling is because of the GFC? I was also reading in the NYT about the Oscar dresses and there was a big swing towards very plain, very simple dresses. The journalist had some great lines – dresses that were as plain as a one-piece swimming costume, or a big white t-shirt with sparkles…(which aslo may mean a swing away from the statement dress maybe?)

    • What’s the GFC (sorry if this is very thick of me…). Yes those plain dresses are what I’m talking about, it’s the revival of 90s minimalism and I don’t think the red carpet is the place for it. We want GLAM!

  2. I so agree Julianne needs a little evening bag. Tom doesn’t need to carry lipstick and a hanky, and a shine blotter obv, so his oversight is understandable. Keep up the good work!

  3. It is a bit hard to get past Nicole Kidman’s tortured face to notice her lack of jewels.

  4. i have a jewellery fetish, so i am just as keen to see the jewels as the dress.
    why would you pass up the opportunity to wear amazing jewellery from the likes of bvlgari, harry winston, van cleef and arpels, tiffany & co etc?
    gems are a much better accessory than botox.

  5. Don’t you think the one wrist rule is a rule that can be broken depending on the look? So think about Cate Blanchett Oscars 2000 in that fabulous edgy black dress with back bling (jean paul gaulthier??) and both wrists adorned (and upper arm bling too), just looking amazing. Compared with Nicole Kidman in that red number 2010 when both wrists just weren’t necessary. I’m wondering whether both wrists is ok for avant garde but not for mainstream formal.

    • TOTALLY totes agree. But Cate’s symmetry was knocked out by having upper arm only on ONE arm… also some serious ring action. It’s all about balancing out. You can have bangles up to the elbows on both arms a la Nancy Cunard, as long as the bangles are not the same.

  6. Couldn’t agree more Maggie.

    When a woman is really glammed up it’s about the bling and “done” hair, whether done means messy (see Scarlett at the Oscars) or carefully groomed (see Julianne above). Angelina at the Globes looked like she was just trying on the dress and hadn’t finished getting ready by putting on her jewellery & accessories & doing her hair.

    As for jewellery, must avoid matchy matchy and symmetry every day, not only when blinging up

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