Was this the worst night in Oscars fashion history?

ByMarcella L. Bouffard

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Prepared by Oscar Holland, CNN

This week marks two many years because Hollywood served up one of its worst-acquired pink carpets of all time. On a evening of big wins for “A Gorgeous Thoughts” and the to start with “Lord of the Rings,” 2002’s Academy Awards ended up — in genuine Y2K style — awash with spaghetti straps, visible midriffs and shapeless eveningwear.
At the time, former Cosmopolitan editor Marcelle d’Argy Smith branded it a “night of vogue blunders,” just before contacting out many stars for their attempts. Julia Roberts, in a black Armani robe, seemed “dull” Whoopi Goldberg, who hosted the ceremony dressed like a glittering peacock, introduced “a variety of circus factor to the proceedings” and Barbra Streisand was “swathed” in a velvet burgundy “wrap/tent/curtain.”

More damming assessments have been saved for the year’s very best supporting actress, Jennifer Connelly, who opted for a dishwater-coloured tulle gown and not-pretty-matching scarf (a shade described by Smith as “pale dung-colored,” and by Scripps Howard news company as “phlegm-colored”). In other places, Cameron Diaz divided views in a floral print gown, ’80s Oscar-nominee Sally Kirkland sported an sick-advised bejeweled bindi and Religion Hill took a painfully literal strategy by teasing her efficiency of “Somewhere More than the Rainbow” with a strappy rainbow-colored Versace robe.

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-colored” and “phlegm-coloured,” Jennifer Connelly’s gown was one particular of the night’s many flops. Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Photos

The evening will, on the other hand, usually be remembered for a single of the most maligned outfits in Oscars history: Gwyneth Paltrow’s infamous “goth” costume (pictured major). The formless Alexander McQueen development featured a scrunched-up taffeta skirt and sheer bodice that left tiny to the imagination. The actress’ weighty eye make-up and milkmaid braid aided secure the outfit’s position on “worst-dressed” lists for decades to arrive.

In a characteristically slicing evaluation of the evening’s appears, lengthy-time Vogue editor Suzy Menkes, then of the Worldwide Herald Tribune, wrote that the evidently bra-significantly less Paltrow “appeared like she was off to see her personal coach.” (She also explained Connolly as currently being “drear as a drowned nymph”). The Guardian’s fashion author Jess Cartner-Morley meanwhile wrote that the star “came a cropper” in “hole-calendar year plaits, goth eye make-up and clunky jewellery.”

There was, arguably, worse to appear. At the Self-importance Reasonable afterparty, “Meet Joe Black” star Claire Forlani wore what can only be explained as a sequined breastplate held up by perilously slim string ties Selma Blair arrived in a scarcely-there fringe costume that appeared far more like a shabby tablecloth and Heather Mills opted for a strange midriff-bearing two-piece. Actress and creator Suzanne Somers’ gown may possibly conveniently have doubled up as low-cost curtains, and Television host Daisy Fuentes confirmed up in jeans and a blouse, as if she had overlooked it was one of Hollywood’s most special functions.

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

The afterparty saw even more common Y2K type, like Claire Forlani’s open up-backed crop prime. Credit: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Visuals

Most boring ‘of all time’

What seriously irked trend critics was not the properly-intentioned flops, but the collective lack of ambition. Just a 12 months soon after Björk’s unforgettably eccentric swan gown, 2002’s pink carpet felt like a meek, minimal-hazard affair.
This may have been for great reason. Held just six months following the 9/11 assaults, the occasion was engulfed by hyped-up security and an understandably restrained environment. Armed law enforcement stood guard, stars were sent as a result of steel detectors and trend-watchers who had been fortunate enough to safe a seat on the purple carpet experienced to undergo new qualifications checks, the LA Times claimed. In preserving with the countrywide mood, a lot of stars arrived in respectfully small-essential gowns, with Reese Witherspoon, Glenn Close, Helen Hunt and Renée Zellweger amid the a lot of famous people to put on black that evening.

This was no justification for Menkes, having said that. Calling attendees’ attempts “the most uninteresting Oscar outfits of all time,” the critic singled out Naomi Watts’ unadventurous corseted dress from a “sea of black,” creating that “even Gucci, commonly a useless cert for alluring clothing” experienced made the star appear “sedate.”

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

Naomi Watts was just one of several stars opting for very low-chance black robes. Credit rating: KMazur/WireImage/Getty Photographs

Samantha Critchell, then a fashion writer for the Associated Push, was much more diplomatic, describing the evening’s crimson carpet as just one of “conservative” fashion on which “several stars performed it safe and sound.” Wanting back, 20 several years on, she attributed their design and style alternatives not to 9/11, but to trepidation encompassing the surging interest in red carpet design.
“In the early 2000s, fashion became a microcosm for the relaxation of the entire world,” she explained to CNN in a phone job interview. “I began covering the purple carpet with Jennifer Lopez’s how-did-it-remain-closed Versace gown (at the 2000 Grammys) — we failed to do ‘night-of’ protection of the trend in the ‘hard-news’ media right up until that second.

“There grew to become a realization that people dresses were heading to determine you. And I feel it experienced far more to do with the increase of manner as a pop-society power — and a actual-time force — and acknowledging that people today were sat at residence judging these outfits.

“There was no E! and no pre-clearly show until eventually then, and I feel that alternatives were possibly safer due to the fact of not recognizing how to navigate that.”

As for the riskier seems, Critchell theorized that a lot of superstars were “enjoying towards kind” by providing a thing unanticipated or distinct from earlier outings. Nicole Kidman’s frilly pink Chanel robe contrasted with the tasteful chartreuse Dior dress she famously wore to 1997’s ceremony, though Jennifer Lopez’s vintage robe and bouffant hairstyle was juxtaposed towards the raunchier appears to be like she’d come to be known for.

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

Sally Kirkland sports activities a bejewled bindi as component of her gold-and-silver look. Credit: David Lefranc/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Photographs

Even Paltrow’s outfit can be observed as an attempt to avoid staying pigeonholed, Critchell explained. “She experienced been the princess a number of many years just before (in 1999) in that pink Ralph Lauren costume, and I consider she was participating in in opposition to that,” she added.

“Celebs failed to have a likelihood to show their other sides in the way they do now. You already know them, you what their fashion is, you know their viewpoint on every little thing. But it wasn’t uncommon in 2002, or any of all those other (pre-social media) yrs, for someone to perform in opposition to what they did ahead of, for the reason that they failed to want to be stereotyped.”

Rays of hope

There were being a handful of hits amid the flops that night time. Kate Winslet’s one particular-shouldered Ben de Lisi costume was widely praised, and the evening’s adult males fared improved among the critics, with Will Smith praised for his Ozwald Boateng fit and gold tie.
One of the night's few winners: Halle Berry in Elie Saab.

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

There was really only a single winner, even though — on both of those the purple carpet and the awards phase. On her way to turning into the 1st Black woman to claim the Academy Award for ideal actress, Halle Berry stunned in gown that remodeled the fortunes of its designer, Elie Saab. Like Paltrow’s outfit, it consisted of sheer top rated and taffeta skirt, though Berry oozed glamour in crimson and champagne, with strategically placed floral detailing completing the look.

“I assume Halle Berry’s outfit has stood the examination of time,” Critchell mentioned. “It truly is not a dress anyone would dress in these days, but she was the belle of the ball. She was predicted to earn and, as trend writers, we ended up all waiting around for her switch. It fulfilled the minute it was memorable, and it was appropriate for a best actress.”

Nonetheless, when the outfit is now regarded as amongst the Oscars’ very best-ever appears to be like, it wasn’t a strike with everyone on the evening. The Guardian’s Cartner-Morley wrote that Berry’s outfit, finish with its “gaudy embroidered internet bodice,” had supplied “a good deal to cringe about.”

Linked video: A short historical past of the purple carpet

Her contrarian acquire serves as a reminder that good purple carpet model is in the eye of the beholder — and hence the dilemma of no matter if 2002 was the Oscars’ worst 12 months is dependent, as ever, on who you question. In fact, provided the current desire in all factors Y2K — a revival that has heralded the return of very low-increase denims, crop tops and butterfly clips — the electrical power of hindsight (and the opinions of Gen-Z vogue-watchers) may possibly be kinder to 2002’s outing than a person might expect.

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


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