Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt fully dressed their part as a glamorous Hollywood power couple at Sunday night's Golden Globe Awards: She in a body-hugging white strapless gown with a flash of red at the bustline by Atelier Versace that matched perfectly her lips and handbag, and he in a classic, bow-tie tuxedo by Salvatore Ferragamo.
Individually, they oozed old-school, movie-star looks, but together, they were the buzz of the red carpet at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., setting a high bar for style.
"There is mystery there. We know so much about everybody else that this couple is so exciting, and you love to see them," said stylist Mary Alice Stephenson. "They are so elegant ... and she's immaculate head to toe. She's so beautiful and icy, you love to watch her and you can't take your eyes off her."
Jolie led the march of stylish, seasoned veterans, who are mothers, moguls and — on nights like these — the best models around.
Stephenson called out Elle Macpherson in a strapless, tiered Zac Posen gown in ivory, Kate Beckinsale in a blush-colored beaded Roberto Cavalli, Reese Witherspoon in a red, corsetlike Posen, Nicole Kidman in a studded Versace and Salma Hayek in a bold, metallic Gucci.
Charlize Theron wore a dusty-rose colored gown by Christian Dior Couture with a plunging neckline, high slit and big bow on the waist, and Heidi Klum was in a plunging-back, blush-tone gown by Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein. She accented her look with a huge turquoise necklace.
"It's good for real women to see women who have a little age and maybe motherhood who can get their glam on in a very sexy way," Stephenson said.
Hal Rubenstein, fashion director for InStyle, noted the prevailing sophistication and elegance. "It's a very pretty night," he said. "Everybody wanted to look pretty and grown up. There wasn't a slashed skirt. There was an understanding that fashion isn't about being outrageous."
Among his favorites were Julianna Margulies in a purple caviar-beaded gown by Naeem Khan that showed off an open back.
Khan is one of Michelle Obama's go-to designers for formal occasions, and with open back and long sleeves from the designer's spring collection at the Golden Globe Awards. One of her other favorites, Jason Wu, made the leap to the West Coast, dressing Michelle Williams in a blue velvet gown.
Williams' biggest style statement, however, was her diamond garland headband by Fred Leighton for Forevermark.
The blue gown that surely turned some heads was the Vera Wang worn by Sofia Vergara. It was the mermaid silhouette that's becoming her signature, but the knife-pleated bodice and swirling sheared bias flange skirt were a little more fashion forward than the styles she's worn before.
Vergara said she so often wears Wang because of her gowns' fit: "She's like a genius now with my body."
There were some new names making bold fashion statements at the Globes, reassuring the next generation of style watchers. Jessica Chastain was at the ceremony for the first time wearing a high-neck, pearl-covered Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci. The details, down to her thin gold belt and pearl-and-diamond earrings, were just right.
Mila Kunis wore a one-shouldered black Dior. Her makeup artist Tracey Levy said she looked a bit like Elizabeth Taylor, but even more like "a brunette Grace Kelly."
"She looked classic Hollywood, but youthful ... with an innocence but also a grown woman who is confident," said Levy, who stuck to peach and coral Dior shades.
Zooey Deschanel wore a unique Prada dark-green halter gown with black and emerald glass pearls on the bodice and ivory pearls at the neck, and Rooney Mara, in a deep V-neck black gown with a bare, harness-style bodice. "It's a Nina Ricci and it was the first one I tried on," Mara said. "It was very comfortable."
Rubenstein thought Mara is playing her cards right in introducing herself to a broader audience. "She's doing a very savvy bridge between personal style and the character she plays in 'Dragon Tattoo.'"
First-timer Octavia Spencer wore a lavender, draped gown by Tadashi with a V neck and jeweled details. "We wanted to create something Grecian that highlighted her curves and vibrant personality," said Shoji in a statement.
Rubenstein noted how many women went the purple route, including Emma Stone in Lanvin, Jessica Alba in Gucci and Shailene Woodley in an embroidered illusion column dress by Marchesa.
Lea Michele wore one of the beaded, under-the-sea fantasy frocks from Marchesa's spring runway.
Madonna, whose style has been all over the map in her long career, went back to her rock 'n' roll roots for this event wearing a dark green embroidered gown with cap sleeves by Reem Acra and a diamond-and-pearl cross by Neil Lane.
"I love it because I feel like I'm wearing chain mail and I'm ready to go to battle," said Madonna.
Claire Danes took a very modern turn in a graphic black-and-white J. Mendel gown with an open back, and Kate Winslet did the opposites-attract thing in a Jenny Packham gown with a black hammered silk satin bodice and ivory silk crepe skirt.
"There was not a real miss, definitely nothing cataclysmic," said Rubenstein. "Those days of big goofs are few and far between now. People are too smart, their stylists are too smart — and they all have good relationships with designers."
AP Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report.