Red Carpet Hits And Misses

Mar 3, 2014

Now that we know who walked away with the Oscars, it’s time to discuss who rocked the red carpet. Vogue contributing editor Andre Leon Talley joins Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti and Jeremy Hobson to look at some of the fashion highlights of the evening.

Andre Leon Talley’s Picks

  • Lupita Nyong’o
  • Sandra Bullock
  • Meryl Streep
  • Bette Midler
  • Zac Efron
  • Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto
  • Pharrell Williams

Guest

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Transcript

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

It's HERE AND NOW.

And now that the Oscars have been handed out and the parties have wrapped up, we can get to the really important stuff. Of course, Jeremy, that is what everyone was wearing on the red carpet.

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

And we've got the best person to do that with us here once again. Andre Leon Talley, contributing editor for Vogue magazine and editor-at-large of Numero Russia. He is with us from NPR in New York. Andre, welcome back.

ANDRE LEON TALLEY: Thank you. Glad to be here.

HOBSON: Well, first of all, tell us how big of a night this is for fashion in general.

TALLEY: Well, as Alessandra Stanley said in The New York Times today, it's Easter in terms of fashion when it's the Oscars. Yes, it is the biggest night for fashion in the world. How many people watch the Oscars? I don't know, a hundred million, 92 million? And then, of course, you know, the famous Ellen tweet crashed the whole network.

(LAUGHTER)

HOBSON: She took a selfie with a bunch of actors, for people who didn't see this, and tweeted it out and asked it to be retweeted more than any other tweet. And I think...

CHAKRABARTI: More than two million times or something, yeah.

HOBSON: Yeah. Exactly.

CHAKRABARTI: Well, what was your favorite outfit of the night? I mean, there's a lot of buzz around Lupita Nyong'o, who not only won best supporting actress, but seemed to steal the show in that light-blue Prada?

TALLEY: Well, as she called it - it's a beautiful Prada dress, and she called it Nairobi blue as it reminded her of the blue skies of her native Kenyan home. Lupita has singlehandedly become the best-dressed lady in Hollywood this season across the board of all the red carpet events, from the Golden Gloves when she was in the beautiful red Ralph Lauren cape dress all the way up to last night in the beautiful Prada.

And my next favorite dress was - and believe it or not, was Sandra Bullock in this beautiful Alexander McQueen dress; midnight blue, beautifully draped, hair on the side. It was almost as if she were giving a version of Rita Hayworth from "Gilda" with more elegance than the actual costume that Rita Hayworth wore in the famous movie. The rest of the great ones, even the ones who got the best awards, the women are all wearing the same dress all the time. It's the same old, same old.

HOBSON: Well, what did you not like? Give us some examples of stuff that you thought was bad?

TALLEY: Well, I didn't think that anything was necessarily horrible. I think that what is just a yawn is that they always have the same dresses. Jennifer Lawrence, of course, she makes a fortunate at Dior so all of her dresses are Dior. I mean, where is the element of surprise? The same with beautiful, beautiful Cate Blanchett who so deserved her award as Best Actress in "Blue Jasmine." But she was at the Golden Globes in a black lace Armani Prive dress.

The best-dressed people to me were Meryl Streep, who comes to the Oscars - sits there unadorned, puts her hair in a bun, puts her glasses on - in a beautiful Lanvin blouse and skirt with a glittering belt. Glenn Close and Zac Posen were so appropriately dressed for what she was doing in that tribute to people who died and gone on last year. And then, of course, I can't say enough about Bette Midler, who is 68 years old, who absolutely was smashing in her performance of "You Are The Wind In My Wings."

HOBSON: "Beneath My Wings."

TALLEY: And the dress that she wore on stage was so nuanced, so elegant for a woman of 68 who looks so absolutely pitch perfect. It's not always the grand dames who get it right, but I do think that last night, for me, Bette Midler and Meryl Streep and Glenn Close - and, believe it or not, in a strange way even Liza Minnelli seated with the blue streak in her hair. It's all about that kind of confidence that comes with, you know, decades of wonderful experiences in Hollywood and your wonderful lives and giving the audiences something to dream about.

I think Lupita is giving young girls great dreams. As she said, every young girl's dream is valid. And that was a beautiful, ethereal, fabulous Prada dress. That was a great dress. And so was Sandra Bullock's.

HOBSON: OK. Let me ask you about the men because we did see both the winner of the Best Actor award, Matthew McConaughey, and the Best Supporting Actor winner, Jared Leto, in their white tuxedo jackets.

TALLEY: It's very difficult to wear white tuxedo jackets, but they did pull it off. I think that Jared looked much better with his beautiful studs in his shirts and his fabulous, perfectly, perfect, perfect, perfect ruby red bowtie. For me, the best-dressed men were Pharrell Williams because he crashed through the boundaries of what is considered Hollywood black tie with his extraordinary long Lanvin dinner suit with the pants cropped at the knee, no socks and beautiful shoes.

CHAKRABARTI: Shorts. He wore shorts. Let's call it what it is. He wore shorts on the red carpet.

TALLEY: You know what? He wore - OK, let's call it what it is - short pants.

(LAUGHTER)

TALLEY: Brilliant move of a brilliant artist who also at the Grammys wore this incredible pork pie hat that, you know, well, it's a vintage Vivienne Westwood hat. Three days later, Vivienne Westwood had 3,000 demands for that hat. So that's how you push fashion. And Zac Efron?

HOBSON: Hmm.

CHAKRABARTI: Hmm?

TALLEY: Wonderful in his sort of shrunk - the jacket looked like it had been thrown in the washing machine and shrunk two sizes.

(LAUGHTER)

TALLEY: But when you are Zac Efron and you look that good, you can get away with it. So it's almost as if the men come with a kind of confidence and swagger that the women have lost. The women are in a herd. They're afraid to go out of the box of the strapless dress and a big train. Always, always the possibility of a train wreck.

HOBSON: OK. I want to ask one other question, and this is something, Meghna, I'm not even sure if this seems weird to you. But I don't understand why the host of the Oscars, no matter who it is, changes their outfits many times throughout the evening. It seems like an odd thing to do. Andre Leon Talley, what is that about?

TALLEY: Well, I sort of agree with you. I do think that it's not necessary to change three times and then to point out that you change...

(LAUGHTER)

TALLEY: ...as Ellen did who, by the way, was a great host.

HOBSON: Yeah.

TALLEY: She looked great in the beginning, and I think that if you're going on for two and half to three hours, you probably think, oh, my God. I've got to change. I've got to give them something else. But as she changed, the outfits became less fascinating to me. The first pantsuit or trouser suit or jacket she wore was absolutely right on, spot on. The white one was great until she said I've added a scarf.

But she's Ellen DeGeneres. She can do what she wants and people love her. America loves Ellen DeGeneres, and so do I. I didn't like it when she put on the big, pinky sort of...

HOBSON: Oh, from "The Wizard of Oz."

TALLEY: ...Glinda the Good Witch homage to "Oz."

HOBSON: You didn't like that?

TALLEY: No. Not necessary.

HOBSON: Oh, I thought that was kind of funny.

(LAUGHTER)

TALLEY: You know, the substance is more important now. This last evening, this was a great moment for us because there was great substance and emotions. When Pharrell sang the song "Happy" and the whole stage was flooded with people from different walks of life, different age groups and diversity - a major moment. Another major moment was when the lady who was in a documentary "20 Feet from Fame," I think I may have mispronounced the title...

CHAKRABARTI: "20 Feet From Stardom," yeah.

TALLEY: Oh. Darlene Love, when she sang a cappella, it was - it brought the house down. These are the moments that mattered because you will remember those moments. You will remember the speech of Lupita. You will remember the speech of Jared Leto concerning AIDS. The substance and the emotions and the human range of emotions, to me, was more important than what the people were wearing. And as I said, for me it's always a yawn. A strapless dress is safe. Who is the woman who is going to go on stage in a pantsuit? Where is that woman?

HOBSON: Ellen.

CHAKRABARTI: I think it's the host of the show.

HOBSON: She was hosting, I think.

(LAUGHTER)

CHAKRABARTI: But, Andre, I take your point about the substance and thoughtfulness and originality and the actual content of the show. But it does sound like you're throwing down the gauntlet because you want to see that same thoughtfulness in what people are wearing.

TALLEY: Absolutely. I do want to see people that - where the clothes looked like they were in the closet, not just delivered by the messengers into the hotel suite. I just want to see people who seem to have more fun with their clothes. Fun in a way that, you know, it looks like, wow, they love that dress and they wore that dress. All the dresses looked right.

HOBSON: Andre Leon Talley is Vogue contributing editor. He's also the editor-at-large for Numero Russia. Andre, thanks as always.

TALLEY: Thank you. Happy to be here.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PHARRELL WILLIAMS: (Singing) It might seem crazy what I'm about to say. Sunshine, she's here, you can take away. I'm a hot air balloon....

HOBSON: This truly was one of the highlights of the show last night when "Happy" was sung and all of the members of the audience starting getting up and dancing along with Pharrell.

CHAKRABARTI: Yeah.

HOBSON: From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.

CHAKRABARTI: I'm Meghna Chakrabarti. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.