the Academy Awards red carpet, stars played it safe and glamorous. Call it business attire for the Hollywood set: simple beauty, column dresses, flattering colors. That’s all well and good, but remember when the Oscars brought out looks like Cher’s wild Bob Mackie ensemble or Nicole Kidman strutting in that fur-trimmed chartreuse Christian Dior by John Galliano dress? Where were the shocks? The surprises? The swan dresses we’ll be talking about for decades to come? To be fair, there were a few outliers who went for big risks, like Gwyneth Paltrow and her shoulder flora and Jared Leto with his periwinkle tux, but on the whole there was little fodder for red-carpet commentators of the professional or at-home kind. It was at the after-parties that things got exciting, with actresses trading the textbook glamour for shock or comfort, allowing their personalities to shine through more than the Oscars red carpet would allow.
The high was Diane Kruger, who skipped the main show completely, strolling into Vanity Fair’s after-party in a red jumpsuit-meets-dress creation complete with a cape by Donna Karan Atelier. “It was about Diane having the freedom to step into it with both ease and glamour,” Karan told Style.com. “The one-shoulder train gave it the glamour and the pant gave it the ease. This dress took it down a notch and made it entirely about the person. I wanted Diane’s beauty to come through first.” The shift toward such personality-centric designs at the after-parties will no doubt fuel the “love it, hate it, debate it” mentality that was mostly missing from the main show.
As for the actresses who attended the Academy Awards proper, Emma Stone, Margot Robbie, and Naomi Watts—whose Oscar choices numbered among the more exciting—went full fashion at the after-parties. Stone ditched her acid green Elie Saab number for one of Altuzarra’s revealing and chic dresses from its Fall collection—a better match for Stone’s light personality and clever fashion sense. “I loved the Altuzarra collection so much from New York fashion week!” Stone’s stylist Petra Flannery told Style.com. “I had to have that brick red dress. I knew it would be great on Emma. It was the perfect party dress—chic, a little sexy, and fun.” As for the decision to switch up Stone’s looks from the red carpet to the after-party, Flannery explained, “The process of choosing ceremony and after-party is quite different. The focus becomes the ceremony, and then the after-party is coordinated around this. For Emma, I loved that she wore two great colors. It was a fun switch-up to this red-carpet season for her.” Robbie, who was on the casual front at the ceremony in plunging Saint Laurent, chose a showstopping black-and-white-striped Dior dress, while Watts’ sporty Armani Privé dress gave way to a cool ivory Le Smoking. Also in the Le Smoking category was Sports Illustrated cover model Hannah Davis—what else does she have to prove about her body?!—and Leslie Mann, who arrived early in another ivory suit.
On the opposite front were the sexpots. While Rita Ora’s train felt a little overdone for a fete filled to the brim with celebrities, her black sheer dress will make headlines for its barely-there status. Same goes for Irina Shayk, who sported a similar style from Atelier Versace, hers adorned with rhinestones. Gigi Hadid jumped on the Versace train, too, choosing a black dress from its haute couture collection complete with undulating strips that artfully concealed and revealed her body. That’s a dress that will raise some eyebrows—and go down on the books as a sexy standard to which future stars will be compared.