The Oscar Red Carpet is Boring

Celebrities are boring. All hail the (mostly) non-celebrities!

The Oscars took place this past Sunday, and with it came the annual critique of what gowns were worn. But guys, this year was SO BORING. Perhaps even the most boring Oscars red carpet ever. Everyone played it pretty safe, and the biggest fashion controversy was whether Anne Hathaway’s last minute gown was showing her nipples or not (My consensus: Just darts guys. Though don’t even get me started on her styling choices, which were obviously meant for a different dress). Everyone wore white or nude or pastel colours, and there was not a swan dress to be seen. Nicole Kidman, Sandra Bullock, and Catherine Zeta-Jones all seemed to be protesting The Great Gatsby being pushed back to May (and therefore not eligible for this year’s Oscars) with their gowns, and that’s really the most interesting thing I can say about them. The night’s most notable gowns were by and large not the ones worn by the major celebs, or if they were, they were notable for reasons that were not sartorial at all. Here’s our best dressed list for the 2013 Oscars Red Carpet.


Jennifer Lawrence, Dior
This is definitely a gown that’s notable not for being particularly interesting or daring, but because of the moments it created. Because let’s face it, this looks like one of those dresses that is made out of toilet paper for charity, though I honestly would not put it past Jennifer Lawrence to actually do this. It was lampooned a bit for being too bridal, but this dress created some of the best moments in this year’s awards show—Father of the Bride jokes, the adorable pratfall when Jen won best actress and both Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman tried to save her, the hilarious press conference moments afterwards when she was asked about the fall. This dress was a real troublemaker, but Miss Lawrence took it all in stride and has cemented herself as my imaginary Hollywood best friend forever.


Salma Hayek, Alexander McQueen
Salma Hayek looks like the tiniest, chicest Bride of Frankenstein, and I mean that in the best possible way.


Melissa McCarthy, David Meister
I don’t really get why so many people were up in arms about this dress. I think it fits her perfectly, and I think it’s a much more modern looking than the standard princess-y gowns everyone else was wearing. People really seem to love getting a bug up their butt when the big girl wears anything remotely different or interesting (See: Adele at the Grammys. You’ll note Adele went back to her trademark black after that, le sigh). Also, Melissa McCarthy is awesome and can wear what she wants, as far as I’m concerned.


Samuel L. Jackson, Designer Unknown
Samuel L. Jackson wins best dressed man of the night in his burgundy velvet jacket, shiny grey silk(?) shirt, and brown pants and bowtie. Men of Hollywood please note: only Sam Jackson can pull this look off. You will look ridiculous. Trust.


Emmanuelle Riva, Lanvin
Oldest Oscar nominee Emmanuelle Riva did not win Best Actress this year, but she looks fabulous while doing so in her voluminous blue Lanvin. She wasn’t dressed like a single other person on the RC, and she clearly had fun with her gown, twirling and dancing like she didn’t have a care in the world. To me, that’s way more important than making some best dressed list any day. Plus you know she was the most comfortable woman in that entire ballroom.


Sunrise Coigney, Zero + Maria Cornejo
Sunrise Coigney is a former actress who is now best known as being Mark Ruffalo’s wife. This gown isn’t my style, but you can definitely tell it’s hers, and she owned it. The choice of an electric blue bag to accessorize with it was positively inspired for the Oscars. Again this isn’t a look that most people could pull off, but Sunrise is doing it effortlessly.


Mark Andrews, Designer Unknown
Second best dressed man on the RC was hands down Brave director Mark Andrews, who accessorized his traditional blue Scottish kilt with a teal sporran (that would be the bag one wears with the kilt).


Rachael Mwanza, Vlisco
Rachael Mwanza, a 16-year-old actress from the Republic of Congo who managed to get a last minute visa to attend the ceremonies because of her role in best Foreign Picture nominee Rebelle (War Witch), showed her African pride in a traditional Ankara print gown. The gown was designed by renowned dutch textile company Vlisco, who have been around since 1846 and are known for their bright and colourful printed fabrics and supporting young African fashion designers. Ankara prints are typically associated with West and Central Africa, and were traditionally worn for ceremonial purposes. The prints and designs vary from region to region, but all are made with a similar wax print fabric technique, which involves printing the fabric with a pattern made of melted wax. In recent years designers like Diane von Furstenberg have been using these prints, and it’s become something of a trend, with celebs like Solange, Beyonce, and even Anna Wintour seen sporting it.


Helena Bonham Carter, Vivienne Westwood
It’s something of a testament to how boring the Oscars have gotten that this is what Helena Bonham Carter wore. I mean, this is practically tame for her, and it’s definitely something she’s worn before. That said, it was still one of the stand outs on the red carpet, which I think says a lot. DON’T GIVE UP, HBC!! WE LOVE YOU AND NEED YOU TO BE YOUR CRAZY DIAMOND SELF AT ALL RED CARPET FUNCTIONS!!!! I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M GOING TO DO WITH MYSELF IF THIS IS ALL YOU’RE SERVING UP NOW!!! I BEG YOU, FOR RED CARPET LOVERS EVERYWHERE, DON’T FALL INTO THE BORING TRAP!!

Muscovite Splendor

10 things about Olga Bulbenkova and the court dress of the House of Romanov

I had never heard of Olga Bulbenkova until a friend from high school added her to their inspirations on Facebook. I took one look at her stunning, opulent designs and knew that I had to know more about this woman and the style of the Russian court. Here are 10 things about this fascinating style and time period.

1 // Birth of a Fashion House
Olga Nikolaevna Bulbenkova (1835-1918), founded a fashion house called Madame Olga’s in St. Petersburg in the mid-1800s that went on to become one of the most popular for designing gowns for the Russian court, and specifically the Imperial Family. Not bad for the daughter of a priest.

2 // Not the Only Game in Town
Other important designers for the Russian court during this period include Izembard Chanceau, A.T. Ivanova, and the English designer Charles Worth. Each designer had their own unique look and specialty.

3 // Straw into Gold
Madame Olga’s house was known for its gold thread embroidery, which was done at the Novotikhvinsky convent. Convents were traditionally where this intricate embroidery was done.

4 // Palace Restrictions
All dresses made at Madame Olga’s followed the strict edicts for court dress that were set by Tsar Nicholas I in 1834. The cut, colour, and decoration of a gown signified its owner’s position in the court hierarchy. You could probably say that Nicholas I was a bit of a control freak.

5 // Uniform of the Court
This edict specified that women in the Russian court wear “Russian Dress Uniforms” (Paradnaya Plat’e). This was originally a white embroidered silk gown with a velvet overdress and long open sleeves in the Muscovite style. They had very full, bell-like skirts that fastened at the waist with a gold cord. These gowns were incredibly heavy and unwieldy, but were based on the traditional Russian style, as Nicholas wanted court dress to emphasize national Russian tradition as well as make it easier to tell the status of the women in his court. The style was eventually streamlined and modernized a bit, but still retained a look that was distinctly Russian. You know that amazing gown from the end of the animated Anastasia movie? It’s a very good representation of how the court style looked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

6 // The Topper
Elaborate jeweled headdresses called Kokoshniks were also required. Married women wore theirs with veils. Needless to say, I wish I had 10 of them. Luckily for me, you can buy them on Etsy (!!!!).

7 // For Royal Bods Only
The Edict on Court Dress also specified that only the Empress or the Grand Duchesses (The Emperor’s daughters) could wear cloth of gold, or cloth of silver. However, if the Empress was wearing cloth of silver, the Grand Duchesses couldn’t wear it at the same time. Unfortunately for the Grand Duchesses, the Empress liked wearing silver a lot, and the Grand Duchesses mostly got to wear it at their weddings.

8 // Colours of the Court
Attendants to the Imperial family could only wear gowns in two colours—garnet red and emerald green. It was always Christmas at the Russian court, apparently.

9 // Watch that Train
The length of one’s train was also important—the longer the train, the higher one’s status. I would be OK if we brought this one back.


10 // End of an Era
Madame Olga’s went out of business in 1917 when the Revolution came, since the dissolution of the court meant there was no longer any business for them. The house’s last large court commission was in 1913 for the 300th Anniversary of the House of Romanov (see above image).

And I had to add one more, because we couldn’t finish this without talking about what happened to these designers following the fall of the House of Romanov

11 // Death of an Industry
The Revolution also saw the extinction of the ecclesiastical embroidery you see on the gowns that houses like Madame Olga’s made. Most of the women who did this work fled to France, and were quickly snapped up by couturiers like Patou, Lanvin, and Chanel (Russia’s loss was Paris’s gain). This industry is only just now seeing a bit of a resurgence, as there are convents trying to practice this traditional art once more.