LOS ANGELES — It’s rare that an actress makes news on the Oscars red carpet for not talking about who made her dress. But that’s what happened Sunday night.

Instead of chatting with E! Entertainment TV host Ryan Seacrest about what she was wearing (a draped black-and-white gown she created with her childhood friend, designer Rosetta Getty), Patricia Arquette talked about her charity, GiveLove.org, which assists displaced children. And in doing so, she continued the debate about sexism and the red carpet.

A couple of years ago, a social media hashtag cropped up urging people to #AskHerMore. And this awards show season, there was such a revolt against E!’s mani-cam, producers got rid of the awkward finger crawl.

On the other hand, let’s not forget how much actresses profit from the red carpet — from multimillion-dollar dressing contracts, fragrance contracts and runway show appearance fees, all paid by fashion brands, which help to offset the lower earnings and shorter career spans of women in Hollywood. If you’re an actress and you get to enjoy the spoils of Hollywood, it’s only fair that you should be prepared to talk about it.

But it’s possible to have style and substance in life and at awards shows. And there’s no harm in admitting that fashion can be fun — for both women and men.

The Oscars red carpet had its fun moments, from the rose shoulder on Gwyneth Paltrow’s pale pink, one-sleeve design by British label Ralph & Russo, to the pearl-palooza (6,000 pearls, just try counting ‘em) on Lupita Nyong’o’s spectacular white Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein gown.

White dresses were one of the night’s biggest trends. We’re not talking basic white here, but showpieces elaborately embellished with sparkling pearls, beads and flowers showing off fashion’s dying art of couture workmanship.

Case in point: Julianne Moore’s Chanel gown in white organza embroidered with 80,000 small, white, hand-painted resin sequins and flowers. The dress took 987 hours of work and 27 people to complete, according to Chanel representatives. That’s #WorthAskingAbout.

Kerry Washington’s ivory Miu Miu bustier top and long chiffon skirt were also hyper-embellished, covered in glass beads, pearls and crystal embroidery.

Meanwhile, Marion Cotillard wore one of Dior’s modernist-couture gowns in off-white with an embroidered basketweave-like texture, and dramatic low-back bustle.

From white to icy pastels, Reese Witherspoon chose a Tom Ford pale blue column with black velvet band detail that fit her superbly. And Vogue editor Anna Wintour put her seal of approval on the pale trend, wearing a whisper pink gown and matching fur shrug.

Of course, you can always count on red gowns on red carpets. Rosamund Pike was a fashion firecracker in a strapless red Givenchy with sheer, waist-cinching details, a high leg slit and 3-D embroidery that brought to mind rose petals. Dakota Johnson also looked spectacular in a Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent draped red gown with a single knotted crystal rope shoulder strap.

Making designer news on the red carpet, Sienna Miller opted for a sweetly seductive black gown with velvet ribbon details from Peter Copping’s first collection for Oscar de la Renta, shown on the runway in New York just last week. And Cate Blanchett’s custom black silk velvet gown with thread silk chiffon details was by Maison Margiela designer John Galliano, who is trying to restart his career.

But what I was most impressed with was what we didn’t see a lot of — plunge-fronts, cleavage and same old sheer effects. Vive la difference.


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