Oscars: Preparing for the Red Carpet

Feb. 16, 2007— -- Number of Waiting Photographers: 133; 102

Number of Fans Outside the Kodak Theater: Thousands

Distance From Limo to Entrance: 500 Feet

Lights, camera … red carpet!

The night of all nights in Hollywood only comes around once a year, but the stars spend months preparing for their walk of perfection down the red carpet.

The 79th annual Academy Awards, set to air on ABC Feb. 25, has Tinseltown toning, tanning and trying on designer gowns from Gucci to Galliano.

For A-list celebrities who don't want to end up on the dreaded worst-dressed lists, finding the perfect ensemble is the first step in a long list of must-haves.

Oprah Winfrey got the sewing machines humming when she asked Kate Winslet, "Having been nominated five times, do you still get as excited about the red carpet? Have the dress offers been coming in?"

Winslet responded, "People have been offering me beautiful dresses. … It's so bizarre how quickly that happens. I get incredibly excited about the red carpet!"

The fight is on between the major fashion houses that are wooing celebrities with their decadent creations, sure to dazzle on Oscar night.

In an interview with ABC's Oscars.com, designer Monique Lhuillier explains, "The dress should reflect their personal sense of style, so that's why each gown is so different. It really depends on who I'm working with."

Designer and celebrity sylist Carson Kressley of the reality show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" tells ABC News, "The dress is always No. 1. That's what really, really makes the statement and it's all about statement dressing.

"While the classics are still front and center with designers like Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Dior, Vera Wang ruling the red carpet … there is a new trend," Carson says. "A lot of celebrities who want to make their own statement are turning to 'emerging' designers to get that unique look."

Kressley adds, "A great dress may or may not be a popular color. The important thing is that the celebrity looks glamorous but still looks like an individual."

While the dress will almost always ultimately "make or break" a celebrity (think of how many people remember Bjork's "swan" dress in 2001), diamonds are still the icing on the cake.

Famed jeweler Harry Winston can have anywhere from $5 million to $20 million worth of bling on the red carpet at any given Oscars.

Harry Winston's marketing director, Federica Boido, tells ABC News, "We set up appointments with the stylists in advance, but most of the time we have to wait until the celebrity chooses the gown before we know what pieces will be on the red carpet. Usually, the dress dictates the jewelry."

Boido says, "Every year is different, but the trend this year is movement, pieces that flow [and] no chokers. Color is also big.

"The color of the year is blue sapphire, but yellow and pink diamonds, and rubies will also be popular," she predicts. "One year, Halle Berry wore an orange diamond that is still talked about. In 1999, everyone had to have a necklace. Gwyneth Paltrow had on a princess necklace when she won best actress Oscar for 'Shakespeare in Love.'"

But what good is a good dress if all the curves aren't in the right place?

That's where trainer to the stars Gunner Peterson comes in.

Peterson tells ABC News, "While celebrities shouldn't be playing catch-up, a big event like the Oscars is a peaking moment. Eight weeks out is a good time to put the pedal to the metal. Time to do extra cardio and resistance training. Time to tweak the diet a little. The client will feel differently come awards time -- carry themself differently, mentally and physically. It's not easy, but it's an active choice."

Drew Barrymore, who eats lots of vegetables and chicken, and runs five times a week and lifts weights, told People magazine before one awards show, "I eat really healthy for a week. I want to eat whatever I want, but I can't. I am constantly battling my weight."

Jennifer Garner's trainer told the magazine, "She eats five times a day, with protein at every meal."

For the finishing touches, celebrities can just sit back and let someone else do the work; popular treatments include air-brushed tanning and Restylane to plump up cheeks and lips.

Standing on the red carpet is harder work than it looks. Some celebrities turn to Botox treatments for their armpits to stop sweating. And the latest trend -- in which a collagen enhancer is injected into the balls of the feet to cushion a long night of partying -- turns feet virtually into pillows.

But Peterson says in the end there's not a lot of mystery to looking good. He has tips for red carpet walkers: "Being more careful with portions, drinking plenty of water and getting lots of sleep. Lack of sleep creates new stress, and the body will store more fat."

For all the preparation time that goes into the Oscars, choices are often made at the last minute -- and with the hustle and bustle of awards night, there are sure to be mistakes. For instance, Reese Witherspoon wore the same Chanel dress to the 2006 Golden Globes that Kirsten Dunst wore to the Globes in 2003.

Kressley admits, "It's impossible with the mad dash at the end to keep track of all the details. Stylists are, however, keenly aware. They don't want the risk of embarrassment. Mistakes do happen though."

Boido says, "Often Harry Winston pieces aren't confirmed until five minutes before … literally when the stars are walking to their car to take them to the red carpet."

Whether it's last minute or months in advance, making it to the top of the best-dressed list requires the whole package.

Kressley says, "It's like a great painting, beautiful music, it's when the pieces together are more than the whole. But in the end there is no greater look than holding a gold statue at the end of the night."