Old Hollywood makes a comeback

By Marriam N Mossalli

Ava Gardner. Rita Hayworth. Audrey Hepburn. Ingrid Bergman.  They just don’t make them like they used to.

These silver screen sirens possessed a sense of unadulterated elegance that was ironically juxtaposed with a sexy glamour that today is rare in an era of rehab veteran Lindsay Lohans and age-inappropriately dressed Miley Cyruses. But sometimes, Hollywood pleasantly surprises us — as was the case at this year’s 68th Golden Globe Award ceremony. Actors strutted the red carpet in creations reminiscent of a lost time when Hollywood was more a Mount Olympus of famous movie figures, rather than an embarrassing montage of mug shots and courtroom appearances.
Arab News sifted through hundreds (not exaggerating!) of photos of last week’s red carpet arrivals, as well as scrutinized a number of redundant fashion blogs to present you with a new type of fashion police categorization: Most Overlooked Dresses, Most Overrated Dresses, and finally, Most Sought After Dresses — basically the gowns you’ll most likely see at the next wedding you attend!

This category is one of my favorites because it allows me to expose the hypocrisy of the American fashion industry. Catherine Zeta-Jones looked like she had lost a battle with a genetically engineered super-strain of green moss in her forest green strapless ball gown from the Monique Lhuillier Pre-Fall 2011 Collection. Yet, she was almost unanimously hailed as one of the best dressed. The media loves to bank on headlines, and her 66-year old husband, Michael Douglas, has been making many with his amazing recovery from stage four cancer. We couldn’t be happier for our contemporary Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall couple, but it doesn’t mean her stylist should have let the star walk out in this strapless silk cascading mess! It was, unfortunately, overrated!
Natalie Portman can do no wrong this year. Well, except when it comes to her Viktor and Rolf pink gown that made the pregnant star look more like a poorly decorated Fabergé egg than the evening’s Best Actress winner and main front runner for next month’s Oscar! The dress was by far the most talked about in the blogosphere, with some people loving the flattering draping and pink color (remember, pink is in the color of 2011). Yet, the giant red appliqué rose on her chest was borderline tacky, until she decided to accentuate it with Stella McCartney red shoes and a red Dior clutch, which sent her debatable ensemble irreversibly across the border all the way over to Tijuana, Mexico! Que cutre!

The Good Wife star did more than a good job with her choice of gown for this year’s Golden Globes. Julianna Margulies went for understated elegance…honestly, is there really any other kind? We are shocked that this ensemble didn’t get more attention. It had everything: This season’s pink, impeccable tailoring — it is Yves Saint Laurent, after all — and it’s vintage! The strapless black and rose gown was subtly accessorized with black heels, making Margulies’ natural beauty the main attraction — admittedly, the $850,000 worth of Cartier diamonds also didn’t hurt. Nominated for Best Actress, Margulies should’ve won best dress for returning the old meaning of the fashion mantra “less is more,” which unfortunately, has been horribly misinterpreted by today’s Hollywood in the manifestation of corsets, diaper briefs and fishnets! (Yes, we’re talking to you Madonna and Miley Cyrus!)
30 Rock comedy queen, Tina Fey, is known for her ability to make people laugh, as well as cringe at her matronly fashion choices. So, when the 40-year-old actress arrived at the Golden Globes in this beautiful L’Wren Scott gown, I had to give her props! The deep V-neck was classy and the silhoutte flattering. Again, the key here is elegance that is effortless, rather than is forced (see Jennifer Love Hewitt in her pale blue oversized origami Romona Keveza gown). Fey’s Swarovski velvet “Bird” clutch and Jimmy Choo “Doll” Satin pumps completed the Old Hollywood glamour look to the T.
We had to squeeze Elizabeth Moss into this category. The Mad Men star must have taken some lessons from the show’s stylist because her gown is so 1960s classic! The Donna Karan emerald gown had the right lines in all the right places, making this silhouette chic, yet subtle. The awkward character of Peggy Olsen was nowhere present that night, as 28-year-old Moss oozed sophisticated glamour in her monochromatic frock with intricate folds that highlighted all her right assets. A Judith Leiber bag, Jimmy Choo shoes and feminine chandelier earrings, completed the vintage look.

We may not have many red carpet events in the Middle East, but we have a lot of events where red carpet-worthy dresses are worn. Thanks to our innate desire to always be dressed up — no matter if we’re attending our daughter’s PTA meeting or simply getting our nails done — add to that our propensity to spend exuberant amounts on fashion (Yes, I thank God everyday for my Saudi roots!), we have become one of the savviest regions in terms of fashion. So, it should be no surprise when the Calvin Klein frock that Claire Danes sported on the red carpet makes an appearance at the numerous   milkas, or engagement parties, this spring. Claire Danes, who won Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television for her role in “Temple Grandin,” shows us she not only knows how to act, but also how to dress in this sherbet-colored, minimalist Calvin concoction.
Angelina Jolie’s look was reminiscent of Hollywood classic Barbara Stanwyck. Her long-sleeved, bateau necked, floor-length gown seemed to steal the   Double Indemnity’s   star’s penchant for masculine shoulders and feminine fluidity. Despite the exposing back, the emerald green Atelier Versace gown was conservative for Jolie who usually opts to show off her stems at these events. Although a lovely garment (and definitely one to add to your wish list), it was slightly overrated, much like the star’s performance in “The Tourist” in which she was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical.

The dress is so Sheikha Mozah and I wouldn’t be surprised if next time you see the First Lady of Qatar, she’s wearing a custom version in this year’s color of Honeysuckle!

Arab News article