It's hard not to catch a fame buzz when Hollywood's elite stars do their best to create head-turning glamour, even if it's a sometimes old-fashioned version dished out years ago during Hollywood's golden age. It still wears well.
The evidence? Look no further than Marcia Gay Harden in a burgundy Randolph Duke strapless gown and stole. "I once played Ava Gardner, and she inspired me," Harden said.
In her vintage lemon chiffon Jean Desses strapless gown, Renee Zellweger looked a bit like a blond Rita Hayworth, while Juliette Binoche's Jean-Paul Gaultier corset dress, marcel waves and pearl swags could have come from a 1920s costume drama.
Not all actresses took their cues from the past. Even though Julia Roberts wore a vintage Valentino gown, the clean, white satin stripes down the front and back gave it a timeless look. Kate Hudson's swingy fringed bolero and beaded silver gown by Chloe designer Stella McCartney jiggled with a fun energy, while Jennifer Lopez gave her couture Chanel ball gown a bit of sexy sizzle when the lights shined right through the chiffon top. Oh that girl!
Last year's Morticia Addams shocker, Angelina Jolie, flouted convention again, but with a classy white Dolce & Gabbana pantsuit. Going for comfort, best supporting nominee Julie Walters wore slim black pants under her sequin-trimmed navy silk tunic.
When you're standing on a sea of red carpet, wearing a red-toned gown can make you disappear, but not if you're Sigourney Weaver in a burgundy couture John Galliano gown that dripped at the shoulder with silk flowers and laced naughtily up the sides. "If I get uncomfortable, I can undo it," she joked.
Joan Allen's beaded, coral turtleneck gown by Michael Kors
was one of the sleekest on the carpet. "I wanted to be very contemporary for today, because I do a lot of period movies," Allen said.
All that finery brings out the impishness in some people. Enter Bjork, whose swan dress was by Macedonian designer Marjan Pejoski, and "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" costume designer Rita Ryack, who dressed as Mrs. Claus.
More interesting clothes came from the cast of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." The black and gold stripes on Michelle Yeoh's sequined dress by Hong Kong designer Barney Cheng was created to resemble a tiger, while co-star Ziyi Zhang's beaded Escada dress recalled Chinese tapestry. Still the sexy outlaw, Chang Chen came shirtless under his leather jacket embossed to resemble lace.
Looking every bit the star, a blond Laura Linney in a sleek red Valentino gown said her dress cost "far more" than the salary she received for "You Can Count on Me." "But I would have made that movie for free," she said, as a reminder that big budgets don't always guarantee success -- not on the screen and not on the red carpet.
As the attention to Oscar fashion nears hysterical proportions, men in the past several years have run like a pack of scared penguins to the protection of traditional black tie. A few men were more experimental this year, notably director Steven Soderbergh in a Prada black silk jacket and champagne shirt and Willem Dafoe's navy blue notched-collar Prada suit.
Armani regular Samuel L. Jackson recalled Shaft in his sweeping ankle-length tuxedo coat with an ivory satin shirt. Armani once again raked in many followers, including: Benjamin Bratt; Ben Affleck; host Steve Martin; writing nominee Cameron Crowe; supporting actor nominees Joaquin Phoenix and Benicio Del Toro; best director nominee Ang Lee, and best actor nominee Ed Harris, whose powder blue satin, high-collared shirt allowed him to leave his tie at home.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times