In her book about fashion at the Oscars, author and Oscar fashion coordinator Patty Fox said there are only two ways to dress in Hollywood: One way is reserved for Oscar night, and no one really cares about the other way.
Apart for honoring the best the film industry has to offer, the Oscars area also all about the glamour on the red carpet. It is the fashion show to watch.
"The Academy Awards red carpet has really become the biggest fashion show on Earth," Fox said. "And it really has become a designer race. It wasn't always like that."
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's" Carson Kressley said the Oscars reached a high point last year.
"Halle Berry, 77th Academy Awards -- 75th and 74th all pretty good -- 77th was the best," he said. "Understated in Versace with hand-diamond-encrusted shoes. Hello, she was a model and knows inherently what works. … Pastels could be seen again this year -- possible trend."
Oscars, Back in the Day
There was a time when the Oscar outfits were not even on the media's radar screen. At the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1928, Janet Gaynor accepted best actress in a very casual outfit, although she reportedly came to regret the decision. The very next year, best actress Mary Pickford went glam.
"She was one of the first ones who actually had a couture gown made for her in Paris," Fox said.
In the early years, the big Hollywood studio costume designers controlled what the stars wore to the ceremony. Actress Ingrid Bergman did something that would be a huge fashion faux pas today.
"Dear Ingrid Bergman, she actually wore the same dress twice and it was something," Fox said.
Television cameras came to the Oscars in the 1950s, and suddenly the red carpet was in every American home, so everyone could "ooh" and "ahhh" over the likes of starlet Vicki Dougan.
"She is the epitome of the A-list Hollywood star," Fox said. "She set styles also. She is one of the few people that owned all of her own jewels. So consequently, her gowns were designed around the jewel. The jewel was the first thing and the gown was made as a beautiful frame."
Keys to Success
Women are constantly scrutinized, while the men usually get away with wearing a simple black tuxedo.
"The guys should keep it simple," Kressley said. "This is Hollywood's most elegant night. Creative black tie is an oxymoron, and when male stars try to get creative it usually turns out bad -- like Johnny Depp's sky blue satin lapels."
In the 1980s, designers got in on the game. One of the most memorable Oscars dresses ever was worn by Cher. It was designed by Bob Mackie, but the press called it "Mohawk meets Dracula."
Kressley recalled a few other Oscar horror stories.
"Celine Dion -- white man's suit on backwards … looks like a couture straight jacket," he said. "Bjork's swan dress: Need we say more? Whoopi Goldberg -- not sure when it was from -- purple ball with green lining and pants underneath. It goes from daytime to munchkinland in one simple change."
But with help of the best designers in the business, Fox said stars can dazzle the crowds with their gowns.
"It's all about collaborations," Fox said. "And that is what I am even talking about today. It's all about finding the right designer for the right star."
Armani started dressing Jodie Foster and Michelle Pfeifer in the 1990s. Uma Thurman wears Prada. After Halle Berry wore Elie Saab, the designer became red-carpet royalty.
"Overnight, these designers become household names," said Meenal Mystry, the fashion news editor at W magazine.
A made-to-order Oscars dress will run anywhere from $40,000 and up. It's like the prom for grownups. In fact, the Oscars dresses will affect the styles for the prom dresses sold this spring.
Kressley said to look out for shorter hemlines with a vintage feel.
"Channeling Audrey Hepburn could be a look for darling Reese Witherspoon," he said. "Backless -- very dramatic without being too revealing. See Hillary Swank from last year. This is a good look for a lot women and I think we will see a lot of. I think we will see a lot of white, blush and metallics and pastels. Strong colors like red were everywhere at the [Golden] Globes, so I don't think we are going to see it here. Red can also age an actress more than bad makeup."
He predicts there will be a lot of vintage jewelry: "More Liz Taylor and less P. Diddy."
Hair, he said will be "up and goddess like."