Contrasts in Style: The 93rd Academy Awards Is A Glimpse Into The New Fashion Amid the Pandemic

As this year’s Oscars takes place in-person, we witness the changes in the fashion landscape since the global health crisis began.

The biggest night in the entertainment calendar had just ended, and we have witnessed a historic win through Chloé Zhao, the first Asian woman to receive Best Director, for Nomadland.

While Zhao’s film received nominations for categories like Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Cinematography, the director humbly graced the Oscars in an understated yet elegant ensemble from Hermes.

The rest of the nominees and guests of the 93rd Oscars held in Los Angeles had shown up in different looks—a major physical event since the COVID-19 outbreak began. The result was an explosion of color, styles, and a view of how a pandemic-situated show looks like now.

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The red carpet of the 93rd Oscars. (Photo from CNBC)

Change in the fashion climate

The pandemic inevitably changed the Fashion Week calendar. In mid-2020, prestigious fashion houses like Gucci and Saint Laurent had to limit their collections and shows. With economic devastations across the globe, it is only natural to elude extravagance or excess.

In the local scene, we witnessed the rise in new collections of designers highlighting sustainability. As stylist and entrepreneur Pam Quiñones forecasted in a CNN interview, “the next six months to a year is the rise of local labels.” She shared the fashion trend in the pandemic features wearing cozy loungewear and pieces that can be worn even to teleconferences at home. Collections focused on comfort at this time when physical events are limited or discouraged.

While sustainability was in the minds of those in the fashion industry, many continued working on their collections in their signature way. Some of their products of creativity, hope for a good future, and desire to move forward were seen in the red carpet looks of the 93rd Oscars. The night’s fashion scene was a fusion of glamor and restraint with hints of elegance.

The anticipated night

Fashion houses and designers had to be inventive moving forward. For instance, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski of Hermes claims the Fall 2021 collection is a message of “conviction of designing clothes for a confident woman. It was about resilience.” From high-neck day to evening dresses, wrapped skirts, to leather fastenings, Hermes focused on the intimacy of socializing even behind closed doors.

This was what Chloé Zhao had worn during her triumphant night. The latticework of Hermes embodies a muted design with tiny beads. Yet she placed her own twist to it by pairing the dress with classic white trainers—a manifestation of her signature laid-back style.

Similar to the choice to be modest, Youn Yuh-jung who won Best Supporting Actress for Minari, donned a long navy dress by Marmar Halim. In an interview with her Hong Kong-based stylist Alvin Goh, he shares, “She told me this and I’ll never forget it: ‘I do not need to stand out… I don’t need big jewels; I don’t need crazy clothes.’” Initially, the gown had panels but Youn had it taken out as she didn’t want a puffy-looking dress. “She wants to be understated… she wants to be comfortable,” Goh adds. The gown was paired with simple Chopard jewelry, Roger Vivier clutch, and Bottega Veneta heels.

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While there are nominees who opted for something discreet, some aimed for breathtaking ensembles expected for a red-carpet look. Carey Mulligan, a nominee for Best Actress for Promising Young Woman, wore haute couture from Valentino, specifically a piece from Pierpaolo Piccioli’s spring/summer 2021.

The stunning, wearable art is dubbed “Debora, Giuseppe, Nina, and Paola D.” Taking a total of 350 hours to make, the gown features detailed embroidery of iridescent sequins with pearl reflections. The dress is among Piccioli’s “Code Temporal” collection. “My idea is to witness the moment,” says Piccioli. The collection is all about living at present and the quality of design outliving trends. So, it is no surprise Mulligan’s gown made it to MEGA’s Best Dressed list.

Another nominee for Best Supporting Actress, Amanda Seyfried, was stunning in her Giorgio Armani gown. The custom-made look takes the shape of an upside-down flower. As Armani explained, the choice for the hibiscus red hue makes for a great contrast against the black and white frames of Mank.

These contrasts of looks in the 93rd Oscars only prove the fashion industry is learning to navigate the pandemic’s impact. With inventive concepts that reflect realizations from this global health crisis, it is possible that we will continue to witness designs that are nothing short of incredible artistry.

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