LOS ANGELES Hollywood stars and the designers who dress them grabbed Oscar's spotlight on Wednesday in a fashion preview featuring vivid colors and the sparkling jewelry expected to wow fans on the Academy Awards' red carpet.
Flowing goddess gowns and slinky silhouettes were the highlight of a runway show hosted by the Oscars' fashion coordinator, Patty Fox, who said her goal was "to make the viewing public interested in what the stars are wearing."
Millions of fashion and movie fans will tune their TVs to the Oscar red carpet parade outside the Kodak Theater on February 24, where Hollywood stars turn out for the world's top film honors given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Images of tuxedo-clad actors and actresses in elaborate gowns are broadcast worldwide, inspiring global fashion trends and thousands of copy-cat looks.
Essential to the magic created on the red carpet, Fox said, is the collaboration between designer and actress, and her Wednesday fashion preview highlighted that connection.
"The thing that makes the style star icon feel comfortable ... is uniting the artist and the muse," said Fox, citing such duos as Catherine Zeta-Jones and Versace or Renee Zellweger and Carolina Herrera.
Designer Elie Saab saw her career skyrocket when Halle Berry accepted her 2002 best-actress Oscar in the now-famous gown with the peek-a-boo bodice and burgundy silk train.
To emphasize the link, Fox singled out past winners, then selected couture gowns that spoke to their style. While fans won't see how their favorite stars are dressed until they step onto the red carpet, Fox showcased a series of styles that sum up the best of formal wear, looks likely to be seen Oscar night.
DRESSING THE STARS
For Catherine Zeta-Jones, she chose an elegant strapless column dress with lightning bolt beads, art deco detail and a dramatic slit up the side from Lebanese designer Ella Zahlan.
She imagined Zellweger in a mustard gold strapless Angel Sanchez dress, reminiscent of the coveted Oscar itself.
This year on the red carpet, colors will be hot, especially cobalt blue and striking yellow. Gowns in grape, amethyst, scarlet and ocean blue fluttered down the runway on looks guaranteed to catch the eye.
"Color, color, color, color," emphasized Fox.
A tangerine Pamela Roland with a ruched front was presented as a look for Charlize Theron, and a one-shouldered red chiffon Valentino looked like it could be worn by Julia Roberts.
But eye-catching, elegant jewelry is a red carpet stalwart, and glittery sequins, beads and decorative flourishes are likely to make a big appearance this year.
A Randolph Duke dress reminiscent of Hepburn's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" signature look included pearl straps, while a Marchesa confection with a feathered bodice featured a band of silver and gold around its empire waist.
Nude-colored beads adorned an Isaac Mizrahi column dress with exposed back, and the surprise on an ivory Valentino was a cut-out back of lace that revealed -- yet did not reveal all.
"This is what we call an exit dress," Fox said.
(Editing by Eric Beech)