Best Red & Rehearsed: Nicole Kidman
The loop around the neck is causing some controversy – being the superstitious bitch that I am, I personally wouldn’t want to go anywhere near the suggestion of a noose, though I suppose when it comes to a lot of things, including facial freezing, Nicole and I don’t exactly see eye to eye. Still, in terms of high fashion, in terms of how she brings it on these occasions and her unwillingness to play it safe, more often than not, I love Nicole’s style choices and last night was no exception. Red Balenciaga, it clung to every inch of her, and as opposed to Charlize Theron last year with that gigantic bow perched atop her shoulder – the cherry on a brown taffeta explosion…and that’s just it: the difference is in the material, the difference is in Nicole’s sleek column vs Charlize’s pouffy prom and to me, the fabric wrapped around her small delicate neck is the essence of chic, and needless to say, if you ignore the scary sh-t above her neck, Nicole Kidman was workin’ it and she was ownin’ it HARD Maybe too hard. Red carpets memories can be short, you see. And even I forgot the gawky woman who made her Oscar debut on the arm of the GMD an awkward curly haired girl plucked out of obscurity for mutual benefit. The year was 1990 and she received widespread criticism for a decidedly fugly pair of “silver t-strap kitten heels” – a country bumpkin far removed from the couture goddess she is now. A year after that, she clumsily stepped on and ripped Angelica Houston’s train during the pre-show, causing the unflappable Cruise to grimace in embarrassment. This was also the same year Nicole donned a long, lilac Prada, almost an exact replica – though nowhere near as elegant – of Uma Thurman’s famous Pulp Fiction gown just one season earlier. All these details are chronicled in a fascinating book by Bronwyn Cosgrave called Made For Each Other, about the history of Oscar fashion and the lengths that celebrities will go to for the big night, from the days of Joan Fontaine and Vivien Leigh right down to Julia Roberts and Renee Zellweger. Anyway, by 1997, after several career setbacks, Nicole was determined to conquer the carpet, enlisting the help of L’Wren Scott and collaborating with John Galliano, eventually settling on the now classic chartreuse chinoise she paired with blood red lips and antique earrings. Her efforts though, even ten years ago, are a reflection of this woman’s ambition. Because Nicole has always played sweet and innocent and unaffected and yet this is the same girl who desperately chased down this dress, all the way up a mountain in Aspen, to secure permission from the socialite who had called first dibs after the gown was sent down the runway. Apparently it’s couture custom to get the blessing of the person who ordered it first, so when approval was finally earned, Nicole was then ready to reinvent herself at the Oscars, going so far as to remaining immobile for two hours in gridlock in order to prevent wrinkling. It’s the kind of effort that stems from extreme vanity, perhaps the same extreme vanity that has compelled her to preserve her face to the point of freeze. Still…her tenacity has paid off. Last night she was perfect. Nicole Kidman is as perfect as a statue. A gliding 6 ft statue slowly making her way down the carpet, aware of every camera and photographer, in control of every measured step. Perfect and practised and rehearsed, more mannequin-like than any model and ironically, it is this level of flawlessness that actually prevents her from achieving true grace. Because as we all know true grace comes naturally. And as perfect as Nicole is, she’s definitely not natural. Not anymore. Readily apparent to anyone on the carpet last night – she’d walk past people and after she was out of earshot, it’d be like: Damn, that face is freakin’ me out! Seriously gossips, without exaggeration, it is HARSH. A forehead that gleams, cheekbones at once fatty and skinny, fleshy lips that don’t really go anywhere…Nicole Kidman is indeed statuesque in every respect, no exaggeration. And if you look very closely, Katie Holmes isn’t too far behind.