If we were just going by their outfits on a hanger, I would have preferred Janelle Monae’s Oscar look to Salma Hayek’s, no question. I may not even have noticed Salma Hayek’s dress on a hanger because on a hanger it’s just another sequin – among a sea of sequins – whereas Janelle’s was much more inventive from a style perspective: the bustier and the orange skirt cut higher on one side.
Remember what I wrote in the site open today about risks at the Oscars? How the Oscars are often not the carpet where we see a lot of risk? This was a risk. And, weirdly enough, even though I’m almost always down with whatever Janelle wears, her risk didn’t pay off for me when it came off the hanger, whereas the more conventional look, the one on Salma, was the one that actually improved once it was showcased in person.
The issue, for me, with Janelle’s choice is that in motion, when she was walking around, and while she was on stage presenting, is that she didn’t look entirely comfortable. The bustier seemed to be sitting lower than it should have at various points, and the skirt, while it did look good in some photos, read awkwardly unbalanced in others. But mostly, in comparison to some of her previous style moments, there was just no excitement or life to it in person. By her standards, this one doesn’t rank. She proved that herself with the choice she made for the Vanity Fair party.
Look at this – it’s so much better!
Salma on the other hand totally animated a dress that had, at first glance, no business being as fun or as interesting as it ended up being. There’s really not much to it but a halter and some sequins, but the colour was pretty special. In a lot of the photos it reads red, but in person, and she was standing a few meters away, it was flecked with different shades of orange depending on how the light was hitting her – and the way the skirt flounced around, in sequins that were meant to mimic feathers, was spectacular. Especially when she was moving. You could see it pay off on camera when she was presenting because as Sarah pointed out, the set design really worked in her favour. It was the kind of dress that makes you happy, even if you’re not the one wearing it, just seeing it on someone else makes you feel like dancing and partying. Which I would not say about the dress she ended up changing into for Vanity Fair.
Salma’s is the reverse of Janelle here in that her Oscar dress proper was the main event, and the VF dress was an afterthought.