Refined glamour as stars hit Oscars red carpet

LOS ANGELES Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:25pm EST

British actress Kate Winslet (R), best actress nominee for ''The Reader,'' and Spanish actress Penelope Cruz (L), best supporting actress nominee in ''Vicky Cristina Barcelona,'' pose on the red carpet at the 81st Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 22, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed

British actress Kate Winslet (R), best actress nominee for ''The Reader,'' and Spanish actress Penelope Cruz (L), best supporting actress nominee in ''Vicky Cristina Barcelona,'' pose on the red carpet at the 81st Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 22, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Refined but unapologetically glamorous, Hollywood's biggest stars strode the red carpet at the Oscar awards on Sunday with white dresses, bold necklaces and one-shoulder gowns among the night's top trends.

Despite an economic recession that has many Americans pinching pennies, stars didn't pare back their finery, delivering the glitz for which Hollywood is known.

"If I turn my head, I don't see any change," designer Valentino said on the red carpet, adding that any toning down of Oscar style would be "very, very bad."

Style experts called the night a return to clean, sophisticated Hollywood style, saying actresses such as best actress nominee Kate Winslet and "Slumdog Millionaire" star Freida Pinto went for classic looks.

Winslet achieved her retro look in a grayish blue one-shoulder gown with black details by Yves Saint Laurent that she told reporters was "quite comfortable," a swept-back hairstyle and diamond earrings.

Pinto donned a darker blue beaded one-sleeved gown by John Galliano.

Winslet and Pinto stood out for the choice of blue, as many actresses favored white and other light colors.

NIGHT OF WHITE

Penelope Cruz, who picked up the best supporting actress Oscar for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," and her fellow supporting actress nominee Taraji P. Henson of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" wore voluminous strapless white gowns.

Best actress nominee Anne Hathaway also wore a white gown, studded with sequins, that style expert Jennifer Fisher called "perfect Hollywood glamour."

Asked on the red carpet why she had chosen the Armani gown, Hathaway said: "Wouldn't you want to wear this dress?"

Other light-colored gowns included Sarah Jessica Parker's belted light mint green strapless dress by Dior.

Chunky, collared necklaces were also one of the night's big trends, with best supporting actress nominees Henson and Amy Adams of "Doubt," garnering the most buzz with their Fred Leighton designs.

"Thank God the necklace returns to Hollywood," style expert Michael O'Connor said.

Other necklaces that stood out on the carpet were best actress nominee Melissa Leo's spider-shaped diamond pendant, designed by her friend Katherine Wallach, and best actor nominee Mickey Rourke, who wore a picture of his Chihuahua, Loki, both around his neck and in a pin on his lapel.

"I was going to bring her with me," Rourke said of the dog, who died six days ago. "But she is with me."

Fashion misses for the evening for Fisher included supermodel Heidi Klum's bright red Roland Mouret futuristic gown, which she paired with big, chunky diamond earrings and bracelets by Lorraine Schwartz.

"It looked like it should have been on Star Trek," Fisher said.

For O'Connor, best actress nominee Meryl Streep missed the mark with her gray off-the-shoulder gown.

"It was just not the right shape for her," he said.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Bernie Woodall and Cynthia Osterman)

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