Was it the worst night in the history of fashion at the Oscars?

Written Oscar Holland, CNN

This week marks two decades since Hollywood hosted one of its worst red carpets of all time. On a night of big wins for A Beautiful Mind and the first Lord of the Rings, the 2002 Academy Awards were—in true 2000 style—replete with spaghetti straps, open midriffs, and shapeless evening wear.
At the time, former Cosmopolitan editor Marcel d’Argy Smith branded it’s a “night of fashion mistakes” before calling on several stars for their efforts. Julia Roberts looked ‘boring’ in a black Armani dress; Whoopi Goldberg, who officiated dressed as a sparkling peacock, brought “a kind of circus element” to the event; and Barbara Streisand was “wrapped” in a velvet burgundy “cloak/tent/curtain”.

More negative reviews were reserved for the year’s best supporting actress, Jennifer Connelly, who opted for a muddy water-colored tulle dress and an off-the-wall scarf (a hue that Smith described as “pale dung” and the Scripps Howard News Agency as “phlegm.” ). Elsewhere, Cameron Diaz divided opinion in a floral print dress, ’80s Academy Award nominee Sally Kirkland sported a rash, jeweled bindi, and Faith Hill took a painfully literal approach, teasing her “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” performance. with rainbow straps – colored Versace dress.

Variously described as “dung-colored” and “wet-colored,” Jennifer Connelly’s dress was one of the evening’s many failures. Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

This evening, however, will forever be remembered for one of the most maligned outfits in Oscar history: Gwyneth Paltrow’s infamous “goth” dress (pictured above). Alexander McQueen’s shapeless creation featured a crumpled taffeta skirt and sheer bodice that left little to the imagination. Thick eye makeup and a milkmaid’s braid helped the actress land on “worst dressed” lists for years to come.

In characteristic cutting review In terms of evening looks, longtime Vogue editor Susie Menkes, then at the International Herald Tribune, wrote that Paltrow, apparently without a bra, “looked like she’d gone to her personal trainer.” (She also described Connolly as “dreary, like a drowned nymph”). Meanwhile, The Guardian fashion columnist Jess Cartner-Morley wrote that the star “failed” in “annual braids, gothic eye makeup and clumsy jewelry”.

Perhaps it got worse. At the Vanity Fair after-party, Meet Joe Black star Claire Forlani wore what can only be described as a sequined bib held up by dangerously thin drawstrings; Selma Blair arrived in a barely visible fringe dress that looked more like a frayed tablecloth, while Heather Mills opted for a whimsical two-piece gown that exposed her belly. Actress and writer Suzanne Somers’ dress could easily turn into cheap curtains, and TV presenter Daisy Fuentes showed up in jeans and a blouse, as if she’d forgotten it was one of Hollywood’s most exclusive parties.

Even more classic Y2K style could be seen at the after-party, such as Claire Forlani's open-back crop top.

Even more classic Y2K style could be seen at the after-party, such as Claire Forlani’s open-back crop top. Credit: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images

The most boring “of all time”

What really annoyed fashion critics was not well-intentioned failures, but a collective lack of ambition. Just a year after Björk’s unforgettable eccentric swan dress, the 2002 red carpet seemed meek and low-risk.
Perhaps it was for a good reason. The event, held just six months after the 9/11 attacks, was consumed by bloated security and an understandably low-key atmosphere. Armed police stood guard, stars were chased through metal detectors, and fashion watchers who were lucky enough to take a place on the red carpet had to undergo new background checks, according to the LA Times. informed. In keeping with the national mood, many stars arrived in respectfully understated dresses, including Reese Witherspoon, Glenn Close, Helen Hunt and Renee Zellweger, who all wore black that evening.

However, this was no excuse for Menkes. Calling the crowd’s effort “the most boring Oscars outfit of all time,” the critic singled out Black Sea’s Naomi Watts’ carefree corseted dress, writing that “even Gucci, usually the absolute leader in sexy apparel,” made a splash. the look of the star is “powerful”.

Naomi Watts was one of several stars who opted for low-risk black dresses.

Naomi Watts was one of several stars who opted for low-risk black dresses. Credit: KMazur/WireImage/Getty Images

Samantha Crichell, then a fashion columnist for the Associated Press, was more diplomatic. description the red carpet of the evening as one of the “conservative” fashions, on which “many stars played it safe”. Looking back 20 years later, she attributed their style choice not to 9/11, but to the thrill of growing interest in red carpet style.
“In the early 2000s, fashion became a microcosm for the rest of the world,” she told CNN in a telephone interview. “I started appearing on the red carpet wearing a Jennifer Lopez Versace dress (how it stayed closed) (at the 2000 Grammys) — we didn’t cover fashion at night on hard news. media up to this point.

“The realization has come that these dresses will define you. And I think it has more to do with the rise of fashion as a pop culture force – and a real time force – and the realization that people are sitting at home judging by these outfits.

“Before that, there was no E!

As for the more risqué looks, Critchell suggested that many celebrities are “playing against type” by offering something unexpected or different from previous outings. Nicole Kidman’s frilly pink Chanel gown contrasted with the elegant Chartreuse Dior dress she wore to the 1997 ceremony, while Jennifer Lopez’s classic dress and bouffant hair contrasted with the raunchy look she’d become known for.

Sally Kirkland wears a jeweled bindi as part of her gold and silver look.

Sally Kirkland wears a jeweled bindi as part of her gold and silver look. Credit: David Lefranc/Gamma Rafo/Getty Images

According to Critchell, even Paltrow’s outfit could be seen as an attempt to avoid classification. “A few years ago[in1999]she was a princess in this pink Ralph Lauren dress and I think she was playing against it,” she added.

“Celebrities didn’t have the opportunity to show a different side of themselves the way they do now. You already know them, you know what their style is, you know their opinion about everything. those other (pre-social media) years for someone to play against what they used to do because they didn’t want to be stereotyped.”

rays of hope

That evening, among the failures, there were several hits. Kate Winslet’s Ben de Lisi one-shoulder gown was widely praised, with critical success among the men of the evening, with Will Smith praised for his Ozwald Boateng suit and gold tie.
One of the few winners of the evening: Halle Berry in Elie Saab.

One of the few winners of the evening: Halle Berry in Elie Saab. Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

However, there was actually only one winner, both on the red carpet and on the awards stage. On her way to becoming the first black woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress, Halle Berry stunned with her dress that changed the fate of her designer Elie Saab. Like Paltrow’s outfit, it consisted of a sheer top and taffeta skirt, though Berry exuded glamor in crimson and champagne, with cleverly placed floral details completing the look.

“I think Halle Berry’s outfit has stood the test of time,” Critchell said. “This is not a dress that someone will wear today, but she was the beauty of the ball. She was predicted to win, and like fashion writers, we all waited for her turn. the right to the best female role.

However, despite the fact that today this outfit is considered one of the best looks at the Oscars, it did not become a hit. every at night. Cartner-Morley of The Guardian wrote that Berry’s outfit, complete with a “gaudy embroidered mesh bodice”, offered “many reasons to cringe”.

Related video: A brief history of the red carpet

Her opposite look serves as a reminder that good red carpet style is in the eye of the beholder – and so whether 2002 was the Oscars’ worst year, as always, depends on who you ask. Indeed, given the current interest in all things 2000 — a resurgence that has marked the return of low-rise jeans, crop tops, and bow tie clips — the power of hindsight (and the opinions of Generation Z fashion watchers) may be kinder to 2002’s release than it can be. would be expected.

“I don’t think it was the worst“Dressed,” said Critchell. “I don’t know if there will ever be a moment that you could define as this. But that was a different time.”

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