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Best Dressed at the 2012 Academy Awards

It was white hot on the red carpet during last night’s Academy Awards as enough ivory, cream, champagne, and silver gowns flooded the scene to fill the Notre Dame cathedral. But rather than resembling a pre-Labor Day “White Party,” a Royal Wedding party, or a taping of some high-class Bridezillas show, these white looks exuded glamour in a thoroughly modern way, ranging from very minimalist (as with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Tom Ford dress) to high on shine (as with Jennifer Lopez’s shimmering gown). Only two of the ladies in our best-dressed list wore colorful dresses (a first!), but that goes to show that white doesn’t have to mean boring.

Here are our favorite looks of the evening (in no particular order):


E! News host Giuliana Rancic managed to outshine most of Hollywood’s leading ladies in a cream-colored Tony Ward Couture gown that fit her petite silhouette perfectly and featured such feminine embellishments as feather-like motifs along the cap sleeves and hugging her torso. The layered tulle skirt and dainty twin added an ethereal effect.


Rooney Mara once again chose a simple silhouette with a pearl white Givenchy gown featuring a slightly V-shaped neckline, and very architectural lines along the torso with trangle-shaped, fold-over accents along the bust and a slight mermaid-like tail featuring layers of glorious tulle. The banded straps along the low-cut back, meanwhile, gave the gown the slightly tougher edge we associate with Mara.


Call her a caped avenger, if you will, but Gwyneth Paltrow‘s custom Tom Ford look was one of the night’s very best. The simple gown was cut exquisitely and featured a straight column skirt, an asymmetrical neckline with just a tad of ruching, and dainty cap sleeves. And that cape she donned on the red carpet only served to increase the glamour quotient.


Cameron Diaz channeled beach princess glamour in a strapless, cream-colored Gucci dress with a fitted bodice and a long multi-layered skirt featuring undulating ruffles along the side of the skirt that gave the frock movement and recalled ocean waves. The shimmering embroidery that seemed to follow the placement of these ruffles, meanwhile, added the glitz to make the gown worthy of such an opulent night.


Jennifer Lopez knows what dresses will best accentuate her voluptuous frame — which is why she keeps coming back to those deep V necklines. For the Oscars, Lopez chose a long-sleeved, floor-length gown custom made by Zuhair Murad which, of course, integrated a plunging neckline, and featured a sheer underlay and sparking silver strips that radiated from the waistline in a starburst-like fashion. My one reservation: those slits along the half of the sleeves, which detract attention from the gown itself and seem a bit unnecessary and out of place.


Actress Jessica Chastain was among the few actresses who didn’t opt for a white gown at last night’s Academy Awards, and it proved to be a great decision for her since her black Alexander McQueen gown was absolutely stunning. The baroque-style embroidery practically beckoned onlookers to stare for longer periods of time, keeping all eyes on Chastain.


Though some critics slammed Emma Stone‘s red frock as being too reminiscent of Nicole Kidman’s 2007 gown, I thought she looked lovely in that deep crimson shade. Plus the bow motif at the shoulder and the high neckline complemented Stone’s sunny personality and worked with her trademark coquettish style.

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