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Stars' gowns danced down the Oscar red carpet

By Samantha Critchell

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Feb. 27 2011 7:56 p.m. MST

Actress Sandra Bullock speaks to journalists as she arrives before the 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

Chris Pizzello, Associated Press

"Black Swan" graced the Oscars on Sunday night in several ways: Besides Natalie Portman in her Rodarte violet-colored draped gown in silk chiffon with Swarovski crystals, co-star Mila Kunis wore a very low-cut, lingerie-style Elie Saab gown in lavender with lace details. But other stars had a bit of a dancer vibe, including Mandy Moore in a gold-beaded, illusion gown by Monique Lhuillier and Hailee Steinfeld's custom-made Marchesa.

Steinfeld accessorized her crystal-covered, hand-embroidered, tea-length tulle dress in pale pink with a ballerina-style, diamond-and-platinum Fred Leighton headband.

"Hailee Steinfeld made the perfect choice — in its endearingness and sincerity," said Susan Cernek, executive online fashion editor for Glamour.

And, added Cernek, "Natalie Portman was as gorgeous and amazing as you'd think." The gown by Laura and Kate Mulleavy made skillful use of a delicate neckline to draw attention from the empire waist that is pretty standard for maternity dresses, she observed, and the Tiffany & Co. tassel earrings were a perfect complement.

There was some controversy ahead of the Academy Awards about "Black Swan" — and who should get the credit for its very influential looks. Rodarte did design some of the outfits, but Amy Westcott was the film's official costume designer.

"Natalie Portman was making a personal choice. She calls the Rodarte designers 'friends,'" Cernek says.

Another big statement on the red carpet at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles was host Anne Hathaway in a big, attention-grabbing strapless red gown from the Valentino archives.

Gwyneth Paltrow's metallic, embroidered sheath gown with a slit-style V neck by Calvin Klein's Francisco Costa hit the trend of a more seductive, sophisticated Oscars look versus flashy, skin-baring styles.

"Mostly I think people looked really good. They went couture and body conscious, not overtly sexy," said Hal Rubenstein, fashion director of InStyle magazine. "There was a lot of sheer, a lot of high necks. ... There was no real clunker in the bunch."

The higher neckline of Amy Adams' L'Wren Scott gown, covered in purple caviar beads with a back-hem slit, was contrasted by her chunky pendant necklace. "It was a '40s Shanghai nightclub — sexy but quite covered up," said Cernek.

"The one thing we're seeing a consistent amount of is silhouettes fitted to their bodies, whether it's romantic or structured," said stylist Cristina Ehrlich, who worked with Adams.

Melissa Leo's Marc Bouwer gown, which had a collar-style neckline, was an atypical choice of this most classic and glamorous occasion of the awards-show season.

Reese Witherspoon channeled a bit of Brigitte Bardot in her black gown by Giorgio Armani Prive with a white band around the strapless bustline, and Hilary Swank's strapless, gray Gucci had the unexpected twist of delicate feathers at the hemline.

Oscar.com fashion expert Tom Julian put Scarlett Johansson and her deep-magenta, stretch-lace gown by Dolce & Gabbana at the top of his list. (He gave his best-tux prize to Tom Ford's fitted suit on Justin Timberlake.)

"Glamorous reds, regal and rich purples, and modern metallics took over this year's red carpet," Julian said.

Also in red were Penelope Cruz in a sequined L'Wren Scott and Sandra Bullock, wearing a sculptured, strapless Vera Wang.

Jennifer Lawrence surely raised her profile status in a slinky, scoopneck, fire-engine red Calvin Klein gown. It wasn't the usual Oscar-glam look. She looked more like a '70s swimsuit pinup — except for the 42 carats of Chopard yellow diamonds on her wrist — but it worked for her.

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