The red carpet at the 88th Academy Awards was defined by glint and glimmer, with all things sparkly and shiny — and we're talking about the clothes here, not the jewelry — being the night's big takeaway trend.
Alicia Vikander ("The Danish Girl") was winning on the red carpet before she took the stage to accept her supporting actress Oscar, thanks to her custom strapless, butter-yellow Louis Vuitton gown embellished with strips of silver.
Others joining the sparkle party included Margot Robbie in a form-fitting golden leather appliqué dress by Tom Ford, Julianne Moore in a black Chanel haute couture gown with tone-on-tone embellishments forming a deep — but not revealing — V down the front, and Naomi Watts in a strapless Armani Privé gown in sapphire blue and bright purple, fully embroidered in stripes of Swarovski crystals, sequins and Lurex thread. Jennifer Garner managed to split the difference in a custom Atelier Versace gown that included a bustier beaded with Swarovski crystals — but just on the left side.
There was also no shortage of traditional bling. Among the jewels that caught our eye were the 18-karat white gold and diamond Bulgari stunner gracing the neck of Naomi Watts; Saoirse Ronan's elegantly mismatched dangly earrings (one white, one green); and the hand-sized octopus ring by Sevan Bicakci sported by Whoopi Goldberg. A loud shout of statement jewelry if there ever was one, it included what appeared to be a ping-pong-ball-sized freshwater pearl surrounded by jeweled tentacles that snaked from wrist to first knuckle.
Baubles and bling weren't the only theme in play; there were also some eye-catching colors amid a sea of basic black formalwear. In addition to Vikander, those bringing a pop of color to the red carpet included Brie Larson in a custom lapis-blue silk organza gown by Gucci, and Cate Blanchett whose seafoam green Armani Privé cap-sleeve mermaid gown topped off a run of green-garbed goddesses, including Saoirse Ronan in a custom emerald sequin dress from Calvin Klein Collection, Rachel McAdams in a jade green silk halter gown by August Getty Atelier, and adapted screenplay nominee Emma Donoghue ("Room"), who chose an olive-green, satin-faced, tweed ball gown by Theia that had been woven through with midnight blue micro-sequins and opalescent Lurex yarns.
And then there were a handful of gowns that didn't fit neatly into any particular trend but merit mention. These included Kerry Washington in a gladiator-appropriate custom Atelier Versace gown with a black leather bustier, white skirt and the fiercest thigh-high leg slit to hit the red carpet since Angelina Jolie's meme-launching moment, and Lady Gaga in a white Brandon Maxwell ensemble that somehow married a dress to a pantsuit, resulting in something that was elegant, out of the curve. Leave it to Gaga to simultaneously give us Old Hollywood glamour and envelope-pushing fashion at the same time.
Jennifer Lawrence, whose award show looks have become the favorite of armchair fashion critics everywhere, apparently skipped the scrum on the Academy Awards red carpet altogether, slipping in to Dolby Theatre at the last minute. Which is unfortunate since the black, layered-lace Dior Haute Couture gown was a bit of a departure for her and deserved much more airtime than it ultimately received.