Black is always right, especially at the biggest fashion show of the year. But most of Hollywood’s elite ignited the red carpet in pale and creamy confections and fire-engine red stunners at this year’s Academy Awards. The lighter color palette mimicked one of spring’s biggest fashion’s trends and delivered sizzle without a shock of color. Anne Hathaway channeled silvery white with an Armani Prive gown accented with paillettes and crystals. Penelope Cruz captured everyone’s attention in a sweeping, vintage Pierre Balmain gown from 1950. A large bow-like drape, another spring trend, spilled down the front of Jessica Biel’s cream satin column by Prada. An easy way to stand out in a sea of black is to wear red. Heidi Klum bypassed soft and flowing for an architectural gown by Roland Mouret. Amy Adams’ strapless column by Carolina Herrera mixed satin and silk. Both Klum and Adams dazzled with over-the-top statement jewelry. Jewelry lit up the red carpet. Even Angelina Jolie accented her black fitted gown with green earrings in an amazing color and shape. While red and white dominated the red carpet, other colors did peek through. Sarah Jessica Parker practically busted out of her Cinderella-style Dior Haute Couture in a soft shade of mint. Kate Winslet upped the sophistication level in a steel gray, one-shoulder Yves St. Laurent gown with layers of black. Alicia Keys and Natalie Portman chose strapless (a strong look) in pink and orchid, respectively. Viola Davis looked like old Hollywood in a gold metallic halter. Joanne Stoner, founder and chief executive of eDressMe.com, said the attire complemented the formal tone of the event, as if the actors and actresses were even more appreciative. She said Parker, Cruz, Hathaway and Biel all wore dresses that many brides-to-be will want to replicate for their wedding day. And she loved the red. "I thought it was stunning.” Norman prom and evening wear designer Kayne Gillaspie said his only disappointment in the Oscar show was the deluge of bland colors. One dress that needed a shot of plum or magenta was Meryl Streep’s. "I didn’t mind the dress, but the color was drab,” he said. "It makes me want to make something for her and send it to her.” What he especially loved was the grandeur of the dresses, especially the ball gowns worn by Cruz and Parker. Beads are back, too. "I love the sparkle,” he said. One of Gillaspie’s favorite dresses was the layered petal gown worn by Miley Cyrus. He also appreciated the construction of Marisa Tomei’s layered geometric gown. Stoner’s favorite dress? Winslet’s sophisticated gray gown. It had just the right edge of fashion with a vintage feel and a modern take on the lace, she said. My three favorites: Davis’ metallic halter, Klum’s red siren number and Cruz’s vintage gown. My least favorite: Miley Cyrus’. It was just too fussy and too much gown for her petite size.
Oscar favorite: Valentino designs in spotlight
Valentino gowns have graced the red carpet for decades. He’s a celebrity favorite. Over the years, seven actresses wearing Valentino have made trips to the podium to pick up their Oscars. Jennifer Aniston and Amanda Seyfried dazzled in Valentino for this year’s Academy Awards. The designer attended the event and said he was there as a spectator, watching all the dresses. He has said his favorite red carpet moment was in 2001 when actress Julia Roberts wore one of his vintage black and white gowns as she accepted the best actress award for "Erin Brockovich.”