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by Tom Kolovos


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Published on March 3rd, 2014 | by tomkolovos


The Truth about the Best (and Worst) Dressed List at the 2014 Academy Awards

The Best Dressed Women:

They came. They saw to it that they were seen. And they conned.

That’s right, they didn’t conquer but they sure did con.

There is so much fashion industry hype invested in producing Hype at the Academy Awards that the most desirable commentator is not a respected fashion critic but an otherwise irrelevant  pop culture sycophant.

So many of them you can stub your toe with every step.

No, I’m not just talking here about Kelly Osbourne and the entire assemblage of E! Television muppets whose only qualification to utter a word on the matter is their unending enthusiasm to trip over each other’s  superlatives in order to to heap them onto the B and C listers who arrive too early on the red carpet, in B and C rate attire, lest they be ignored altogether when the A listers arrive much too close to showtime.

Yet when the A listers do arrive, those would be the stars anointed buzz worthy  enough by fashion industry insiders for reasons that can be downright Byzantine to explain to the viewer at home–because, well, it’s Audrey Tautou one decade, The Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo some other decade; some  Jennifer this year only to be followed by some other Jennifer nipping at her heels just a few short years later–  even a less brain dead commentator among those who earn a living living this way is more often than not–ok, almost always– tempted to lavish the attendant praise on the expected Jennifer of the moment because that’s the script they’ve been given along with Kelly Osbourne and her ilk.

The red carpet is a money making spectacle with a life all it’s own–like the ads during the Super Bowl, if you will–and it’s become a spectator sport that’s  much more WWF than WWD, if you want to mix acronyms.

Ratings and the blogosphere’s flat out ability to create infinite portals inside the minds of John Galliano or Varvatos or Johnny come lately for that matter,  means that if an actress is game–and where  the hell is one to find another Meryl Streep–  big bucks from highly lucrative fashion and cosmetics deals await her–and sometimes even precede her– at the end of the red carpet.

With so much at stake these days and with stiff competition from a Kardashian here, a Kardashian there, it’s no wonder   “experts” can be found tripping out on hyperbole even more often than  Jennifer Lawrence trips for real.

I take you down this yellow prick road that is this post today because last night was a perfect example of the power of the sycophants  over what you know you saw with your own eyes.

More than a few years back Estee Lauder’s son, Ronald, a world renown art collector, had  become Chairman of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I read an interview at the the time in which the highest possible praise was heaped on him: he was perhaps the only person ever to serve in that capacity who could tell the difference between a good Picasso and a bad Picasso.

Someone should tell that parable to this generation of fashion critics and designers.

And point out that, just as there is a finite number of good Picasso’s, chances are there’s even a greater dearth of  “great, amazing, spectacular”– pick you superlative– of gowns produced in any given year by any given designer.

So before you anoint  this or that look with a superlative, you better  know your good fashion Picasso from your bad one.

Or your better Dior from your lesser one.

And speak up because –because it maters.

It matters that neither the Jennifer Laurence nor the Charlize Theron Dior dresses last  night were deserving of any high accolade. Why? Because each actress has worn better in the past and  demonstrably so, if we just compare them apples to apples.

It’s high time to get real about the merit of the critic and let the chips and E! Television dipshits  fall where the may.

And as I pointed out last week, they tend to fall flat on their face, whether it’s  the political critic Irina Rodnina at the Sochi Olympics or the hapless critic at the London Telegraph who, ignorant of any fashion history, declared dresses she saw on Tom Ford’s Fall 2014 runway as products of an Instagram feud between Beyonce and Miley Cyrus. 

She seriously had no idea the dresses were at the very least an homage to Geoffrey Beene who famously designed the dress  which Ford’s surely was referencing–in, um like, way back in the 90’s?

Sure. 1967, to be exact, Belinda.

And not to belabor the point, but did any editor at The Daily Telegraph read that review and make her rewrite it? Was it too much twerk to ask of them?

There were only two women of note at last night’s Academy Awards. First there was Ellen Degeneres who will surely will another Emmy for her superb hosting duties.

The other was Cate Blanchett in Armani Prive. End of that best of list. You can read my reasoning below.

Yes, we saw a lot of heavily beaded or metallic colored dresses but that was a trend I suspect because the forecast called for heavy rain and beaded or metallic dresses were a good bet to hide any water splashed imperfections.

Oh, and almost all of them were so overly ornate and heavy  that they looked like candidates for costume design. The same can be said for the disturbing retro stiff drape/ faux bustle/ruched/peplum/ that it seems Jennifer Lawrence has either worn before  in a better version or Zac Posen has made for years.

I can report that the biggest news of the night was in the least expected places. The worst or most trorubling dresses were worn by the most high profile actresses. And the biggest piece of  welcome news, for once, was that the men wowed by taking the risk of eschewing the black tux.

The Best Dressed Woman:

Cate Blanchett in Armani Prive.

Bolder lipstick and different, less awkwardly shaped earrings would have gotten the look exactly right for television.

Though she reported that the dress did weigh more than it’s effect might indicate, it looked ethereal and in motion at he same time—not a minor achievement while she’s  standing still!


Sandra Bullock in Alexander McQueen

Not quite in  the same league technically as the Armani Prive above, but it was the best of the colorful /more structured gowns because it does not compromise fluidity. The best she’s looked in years. Yes there is a goddess  in the heavens, even if George Clooney would rather float away in space and die than spend time with you…….


Why not include Charlize Theron when almost everyone did?  She was trying so hard to stun but the fit of the bodice betrayed her.

She’s worn better–last year comes to  mind– and what initially makes you think the dress is a stunner turns out on closer inspection to be more of a Dior gimmick than illusion, resulting in a disproportionately flawed bust line which makes her look top-heavy.

She’s had near perfect dresses essentially ruined  by ill fitting bodices before. Remember the  the tangerine Vera Wang that sagged because she couldn’t actually fill out the bust? This dress would have been perfect if the armhole were cut lower and slimmer, which it most certainly needed to. The necklace which is absolutely stunning almost saves the day but not quite at this level of couture.

And the hair was way too prep school for my taste and for this edgy look. That said….. I  prefer imperfection with which I can quibble, as in this case, over  the  banality and its disco/tents that is the  Prada dress that tops my worst of list any day.


The Worst

Lupita Nyong’o

The Golden Girls called and they want their nightgown  back.

Major Prada fail and quite frankly inexplicable from a woman that had up to now, in her debut year on the high fashion scene, become an instant fashion plate. She made only one previous mistake, in  another Givenchy  plunging neckline with plisse skirt which she wore to the NAACP Image Awards.

You see how far the nighty have fallen if you simply compare this to the stunner from Ralph Lauren she wore to the Golden Globes.

There she looked regal.

Here she looks like a 12 year old orphan being pimped one final time before being sent to a sweatshop. Another  disproportionately thoughtless and unflattering bust line, evident so  clearly in the second image. Plunging triangular shaped bodices on skeleton thin, flat chested tall women? This is good design? Yes, I suppose if you want your skeletal ribcage as your necklace.

Never has been and  never will. What IS simply stunning about this dress is the number of fashion “experts” who made a living last night  trying to sell it to you as  great design. And maybe eventually as part Prada’s “Blue Period?” Fashion police arrest thyself.

A dead giveaway you don’t look good in a dress? You think putting on a headband on an inexplicably new mohawk haircut will fix everything. Never has and never will.

I do understand that this dress was meant to convey a fluidity, and I picked the most flattering photo I could find to showcase that. However, it only conveyed fluidity while being forcefully set in motion, which brings me back to the genius of the Armani dress worn by Cate.


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Angelina Jolie in Elie Saab.  

Betty White called and  wants her dress back? Yes.

Compared to Bafta’s, where she stunned in an Saint Laurent Paris couture tuxedo, this dress is the worst idea in recent memory.

I hear Betty White only wants it back so she can donate it to clean up after a messy rescue dog.


Anna Kendrick in a rejected Olympic Ice Dancing high-low hemline J. Mendel mess. Get the picture?

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Viola Davis in Escada (and a very bad wig). This is the ugliest stepsister to the glorious Vera Wang she wore so stunningly 2 years ago when nominated for “The Help.”

HELP! She’s fallen and she can’t get up the courage to “just say no” to drudge.

Escada, I will tell you authoritatively, has made such a remarkable turnaround  since its most recent acquisition by India’s London-based billionaire Lakshmi Mittal –remarkable too for remaining  under the radar of even fashion critics whose work I read and whose judgement I respect–it is impossible for me to overestimate how this dress damages that progress, by which I mean it completely fails to leverage this very high profile opportunity to convey to women of a certain means and  in search of wearable fashion that Escada is now as top tier a label as any.

Today I am puzzled if the powers that be at Escada are themselves even aware that the label has undergone the change which I’ve just described to you because, if they really did, this dress would never have found its way out of your grandmother’s closet.


Anne Hathaway in Gucci.

She looks like she got a reconstructive mastectomy from bottle caps. The slit up the back of the dress was also ungainly. Is it just me of has Frida Gianinni been phoning it in quite a bit since she got knocked up by the owner of the company. Christina Binkley of  The Wall Street Journal found that remark I made on Twitter sexist. So of course I had to remind her to ask her boss, Rupert Murdock, to ask Wendi if she thought it was.

She un-followed me from Twitter.

Christina, not Wendi. Wendi doesn’t do Twitter, unless of course, she could do Jack Dorsey.



The Best Dressed Men

Ryan Seacrest in Burberry shawl collar one button dinner jacket.

True matinee American idol style.

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Jared Leto in Saint Laurent Paris.

A 70’s rock and roll vibe though the fit of the jacket could have been sharper.


Jim Carey

An iridescent blue shawl lapel silk  dinner jacket over an all black base. My favorite look of the night. He has never looked better.

The evil Snuggie wearing public did not care for this.

However, Jane Fonda did. And now I’m fond of her.


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Chris Hemsworth in  David August 3 piece shawl collar tuxedo in eggplant.

Perfectly fitted, giving off a cool 1950’s/60’s Rat Pack vibe. (Let’s hope the kid gets his sense of style and not the baby mama’s.) 



Joseph Gordon Levitt

Always perfect.


 Bradley Cooper in Tom Ford.

Perfect. But only when he stays away from Vivienne Westwood and  Victoriana cutaway jackets. Glad he stopped experimenting with the drug called bad fashion advice.

Stay on the wagon, Bradley.


The Worst

Bill Murray

Why are funny people the least likely to care about how bad they look?


Matthew McConaughey. 

Right trend,  gone awry. Poorly fitting in every way. And what up with the black vest? Is it bulletproof in case someone tries to shoot the charm out of him?


Tom Kolovos is EIC of aCS. Images via Yahoo.com



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2 Responses to The Truth about the Best (and Worst) Dressed List at the 2014 Academy Awards

  1. Pingback: The Meta Best (and Worst) Dressed List at the 2014 Academy Awards | aControlledSubstance

  2. tomkolovos says:

    Lupita Nyong’o Gains the Ultimate Prize With a Beauty Contract for Lancôme http://nyti.ms/1ehOyKd

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