Old Hollywood dominates at Oscar fashion preview

BEVERLY HILLS Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:26am EST

1 of 4. Model Janica De Guzman gets her hair and makeup done backstage at the Oscars Designer Challenge at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, California February 10, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Redmond

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BEVERLY HILLS (Reuters) - Charcoal gray, platinum and white gowns paired with diamonds dominated a preview of red carpet Oscar fashions on Tuesday, recalling the glamour and understated elegance of old Hollywood stars like Grace Kelly.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes the Oscars, focused its annual preview on seven up-and-coming designers who are vying to have their original gowns worn onstage at the Academy Awards on February 22.

The contestants were not instructed to use particular colors, but Oscar fashion coordinator Patty Fox said a palette emerged from the group that she called "Hollywood Silver."

"Maybe it's like silver screen. We've got a lot of platinums, we've got charcoal grays, light grays, ice colors, some black touches for definition," Fox said.

Fox declined, however, to link the muted colors to the economic recession that has many Americans pinching pennies.

"I hope the economy does not reflect on Oscar night because it is just one night to feel great," she said.

Stars, however, may choose to tone things down when considering what jewels to wear.

Diamonds -- smaller and less showy than in previous years -- are expected to take center stage on the red carpet.

"You are going to see a little bit more conservatism," said Martin Katz, a Beverly Hills jeweler. "We won't see as many blingy diamonds."

The dresses competing in Oscar night's "Designer Challenge" included a strapless black lace and pink silk mermaid gown by designer Alan del Rosario, a platinum jacquard strapless gown by Maria Pinto, a black embroidered lace drop shoulder gown by Marianne Kooimans, and a slate grey charmeuse and chiffon angel dress by Moire Conroy.

Also among the group were a white gown with gray fluting by Nicolas Putvinski, a white silk draped Grecian gown by Robert Rodriguez and a platinum crepe lame strapless gown by Sam Kori George.

Many of the designers, including del Rosario, Putvinski and Rodriguez said they were inspired by old Hollywood stars, with Rodriguez specifically calling out Grace Kelly.

The winning design will be chosen by the public, who can vote for their favorite gown at www.oscar.com from the afternoon of February 10 through February 17.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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