Was this the worst night in Oscars fashion history?

Prepared by Oscar Holland, CNN

This week marks two decades considering the fact that Hollywood served up 1 of its worst-acquired crimson carpets of all time. On a night of large wins for “A Gorgeous Brain” and the first “Lord of the Rings,” 2002’s Academy Awards ended up — in legitimate Y2K type — awash with spaghetti straps, seen midriffs and shapeless eveningwear.
At the time, previous Cosmopolitan editor Marcelle d’Argy Smith branded it a “evening of vogue blunders,” just before contacting out several stars for their initiatives. Julia Roberts, in a black Armani robe, seemed “monotonous” Whoopi Goldberg, who hosted the ceremony dressed like a glittering peacock, brought “a form of circus aspect to the proceedings” and Barbra Streisand was “swathed” in a velvet burgundy “wrap/tent/curtain.”

Extra damming opinions ended up saved for the year’s finest supporting actress, Jennifer Connelly, who opted for a dishwater-coloured tulle gown and not-quite-matching scarf (a shade explained by Smith as “pale dung-coloured,” and by Scripps Howard news company as “phlegm-colored”). In other places, Cameron Diaz divided thoughts in a floral print gown, ’80s Oscar-nominee Sally Kirkland sported an ill-advised bejeweled bindi and Religion Hill took a painfully literal technique by teasing her overall performance of “Someplace Above the Rainbow” with a strappy rainbow-coloured Versace gown.

Variously described as "pale dung-colored" and "phlegm-colored," Jennifer Connelly's gown was one of the night's many flops.

Variously described as “pale dung-coloured” and “phlegm-colored,” Jennifer Connelly’s robe was one of the night’s a lot of flops. Credit history: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Illustrations or photos

The night time will, on the other hand, always be remembered for one particular of the most maligned outfits in Oscars background: Gwyneth Paltrow’s infamous “goth” dress (pictured prime). The formless Alexander McQueen generation showcased a scrunched-up taffeta skirt and sheer bodice that remaining small to the creativity. The actress’ significant eye make-up and milkmaid braid assisted safe the outfit’s area on “worst-dressed” lists for yrs to come.

In a characteristically reducing evaluation of the evening’s seems, extensive-time Vogue editor Suzy Menkes, then of the International Herald Tribune, wrote that the evidently bra-much less Paltrow “seemed like she was off to see her personalized coach.” (She also explained Connolly as staying “drear as a drowned nymph”). The Guardian’s trend author Jess Cartner-Morley in the meantime wrote that the star “arrived a cropper” in “hole-12 months plaits, goth eye make-up and clunky jewelry.”

There was, arguably, worse to arrive. At the Vanity Truthful afterparty, “Meet Joe Black” star Claire Forlani wore what can only be explained as a sequined breastplate held up by perilously skinny string ties Selma Blair arrived in a hardly-there fringe gown that seemed much more like a shabby tablecloth and Heather Mills opted for a strange midriff-bearing two-piece. Actress and creator Suzanne Somers’ gown could simply have doubled up as low-cost curtains, and Tv host Daisy Fuentes confirmed up in jeans and a shirt, as if she experienced neglected it was one of Hollywood’s most unique get-togethers.

The afterparty saw even more classic Y2K style, like Claire Forlani's open-backed crop top.

The afterparty observed even a lot more traditional Y2K design and style, like Claire Forlani’s open-backed crop top. Credit: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images

Most monotonous ‘of all time’

What really irked manner critics was not the properly-intentioned flops, but the collective absence of ambition. Just a year soon after Björk’s unforgettably eccentric swan gown, 2002’s crimson carpet felt like a meek, minimal-risk affair.
This may perhaps have been for excellent reason. Held just six months right after the 9/11 attacks, the celebration was engulfed by hyped-up protection and an understandably restrained environment. Armed police stood guard, stars have been despatched through steel detectors and trend-watchers who ended up lucky sufficient to protected a seat on the red carpet had to bear new history checks, the LA Instances documented. In keeping with the nationwide temper, numerous stars arrived in respectfully minimal-key robes, with Reese Witherspoon, Glenn Near, Helen Hunt and Renée Zellweger between the several celebs to don black that night time.

This was no justification for Menkes, even so. Contacting attendees’ endeavours “the most unexciting Oscar outfits of all time,” the critic singled out Naomi Watts’ unadventurous corseted gown from a “sea of black,” creating that “even Gucci, usually a dead cert for sexy dresses” experienced manufactured the star glance “sedate.”

Naomi Watts was one of several stars opting for low-risk black gowns.

Naomi Watts was one of numerous stars opting for small-hazard black robes. Credit history: KMazur/WireImage/Getty Pictures

Samantha Critchell, then a style writer for the Linked Push, was more diplomatic, describing the evening’s crimson carpet as 1 of “conservative” vogue on which “lots of stars performed it safe and sound.” Searching again, 20 many years on, she attributed their design decisions not to 9/11, but to trepidation encompassing the surging curiosity in pink carpet model.
“In the early 2000s, trend grew to become a microcosm for the relaxation of the globe,” she advised CNN in a cell phone interview. “I started out covering the purple carpet with Jennifer Lopez’s how-did-it-keep-shut Versace robe (at the 2000 Grammys) — we didn’t do ‘night-of’ coverage of the style in the ‘hard-news’ media till that minute.

“There grew to become a realization that people dresses were going to outline you. And I think it experienced additional to do with the rise of style as a pop-lifestyle force — and a real-time force — and acknowledging that people had been sat at property judging these outfits.

“There was no E! and no pre-exhibit right up until then, and I feel that choices had been probably safer simply because of not realizing how to navigate that.”

As for the riskier seems to be, Critchell theorized that lots of famous people ended up “enjoying towards form” by offering a thing surprising or distinct from former outings. Nicole Kidman’s frilly pink Chanel gown contrasted with the elegant chartreuse Dior costume she famously wore to 1997’s ceremony, even though Jennifer Lopez’s vintage robe and bouffant hairstyle was juxtaposed against the raunchier appears to be she’d turn out to be recognized for.

Sally Kirkland sports a bejewled bindi as part of her gold-and-silver look.

Sally Kirkland sports a bejewled bindi as portion of her gold-and-silver glimpse. Credit rating: David Lefranc/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Photographs

Even Paltrow’s outfit can be viewed as an attempt to keep away from remaining pigeonholed, Critchell explained. “She experienced been the princess a number of decades before (in 1999) in that pink Ralph Lauren costume, and I think she was enjoying towards that,” she included.

“Superstars failed to have a chance to display their other sides in the way they do now. You currently know them, you what their design is, you know their belief on almost everything. But it was not unusual in 2002, or any of individuals other (pre-social media) many years, for an individual to play versus what they did before, due to the fact they failed to want to be stereotyped.”

Rays of hope

There had been a handful of hits amid the flops that evening. Kate Winslet’s a single-shouldered Ben de Lisi gown was greatly praised, and the evening’s guys fared far better amid critics, with Will Smith praised for his Ozwald Boateng go well with and gold tie.
One of the night's few winners: Halle Berry in Elie Saab.

A person of the night’s couple winners: Halle Berry in Elie Saab. Credit rating: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Visuals

There was genuinely only just one winner, while — on each the purple carpet and the awards stage. On her way to getting the first Black female to declare the Academy Award for most effective actress, Halle Berry shocked in gown that remodeled the fortunes of its designer, Elie Saab. Like Paltrow’s outfit, it consisted of sheer top and taffeta skirt, while Berry oozed glamour in crimson and champagne, with strategically put floral detailing finishing the appear.

“I feel Halle Berry’s outfit has stood the check of time,” Critchell claimed. “It’s not a gown an individual would put on nowadays, but she was the belle of the ball. She was predicted to gain and, as vogue writers, we were all waiting around for her transform. It fulfilled the minute it was memorable, and it was ideal for a greatest actress.”

But, while the outfit is now considered between the Oscars’ greatest-ever seems to be, it wasn’t a hit with everyone on the night time. The Guardian’s Cartner-Morley wrote that Berry’s outfit, finish with its “gaudy embroidered internet bodice,” had provided “a good deal to cringe about.”

Relevant video: A brief historical past of the crimson carpet

Her contrarian just take serves as a reminder that very good purple carpet type is in the eye of the beholder — and hence the question of irrespective of whether 2002 was the Oscars’ worst 12 months is dependent, as at any time, on who you ask. In fact, specified the latest curiosity in all matters Y2K — a revival that has heralded the return of reduced-rise jeans, crop tops and butterfly clips — the power of hindsight (and the views of Gen-Z trend-watchers) may possibly be kinder to 2002’s outing than one particular could anticipate.

“I don’t feel it was the worst-dressed,” Critchell reported. “I you should not know if there would at any time be a instant you could outline as that. But it was a distinct time.”

Eleanore Beatty

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