Forget glamour girls Jessica Chastain versus Jennifer Lawrence. By the end of a long Oscars telecast, the only person who could have stolen the fashion conversation was first lady Michelle Obama — and she did.
She presented the best picture award almost at the stroke of midnight Sunday via video stream in a silver Naeem Khan gown. It was the sort of Cinderella style moment that red-carpet watchers hunger for.
Until then, the most heated chatter about the Academy Awards likely was the boldface battle between Giorgio Armani and Dior Haute Couture.
Armani could claim some big wins: the designer dressed Chastain, Naomi Watts and Quvenzhane Wallis. Dior dressed Lawrence and Charlize Theron — both are spokesmodels — who hit it right in white.
Chastain, in a glistening copper-tone strapless gown with mermaid hem, looked like an old-world glamorous movie star, especially with her oversized vintage Harry Winston diamond earrings and bright red lipstick.
"I chose it because to me it was a throwback to old Hollywood," she said. "It's a very 'Happy birthday, Mr. President' dress."
Watts wore a gunmetal beaded gown with a geometric cutout on the bodice, also by Armani.
Quvenzhane (kwuh-VEHN'-juh-nay), with a silver headband in her hair and carrying a bedazzled puppy purse, wore an Armani Junior navy-blue dress with black, navy and silver jewels scattered on the skirt and a big bow on the back. She had another Armani dress, a pink one, ready for the afterparty. "I liked it because it was sparkly and puffy."
Lawrence was the belle of the ball in a white-and-pale pink strapless gown with fitted bustier and poufy hemline, sophisticated pulled-back hair, diamond-ball earrings and a delicate long necklace that hung down in back. The long train gave her trouble as she went to accept her award for best actress. She stumbled as she approached the stage to accept her Oscar.
Theron was sleek in an angular strapless dress with a fashion-right peplum and a buzz-cut hairdo.
Christos Garkinos, longtime red-carpet watcher and owner of Decades vintage store in Los Angeles, said, "You could have turned the TV off right when Charlize Theron came on. She was perfect."
The more interesting chatter, however, could be about the Jane Fondas and Sally Fields of the world. Fonda wore bright taxicab yellow Versace and Sally Field was in bright red.
"Women of a certain age almost gave the feeling that the older you get, the bolder you get," Garkinos said.
Hal Rubenstein, editor at large of InStyle magazine, was pretty impressed by 86-year-old Emmanuelle Riva in Lanvin. "Jane Fonda looks amazing because she's Jane Fonda, but Emmanuelle Riva was so elegant."
Another look that had people talking was Anne Hathaway's pale pink Prada dress. Rubenstein called the dress and Tiffany & Co. necklace "an Audrey Hepburn moment."
Garkinos wasn't as kind. Thanks to some awkwardly placed darts in the bust, he said it was more like Gwyneth Paltrow's big Academy Awards moment, when she wore a lovely Ralph Lauren pink dress but the fit wasn't quite right.