By Leanne Italie, Associated Press
Ruth Negga dripped in responsibly sourced rubies with a custom Valentino gown to match, Nicole Kidman appeared fashion-effortless in Champagne-colored Armani Prive and Janelle Monae made a large statement in a black tulle Elie Saab gown with soup-to-nuts embellishment—bird broaches, feathers, sequins, beads, and crystals—on Hollywood's biggest night at the Oscars.
Hailee Steinfeld, a presenter, walked in a positively ethereal, pleated back ruffle couture gown in a floral design with a long, sheer train, from Ralph & Russo. She's been a recent person-of-interest on red carpets. This time, her hair was up and she let her bare shoulders speak volumes.
Meryl Streep, who exchanged words over Oscar gowns with Karl Lagerfeld recently, wore midnight blue satin. It was Elie Saab Haute Couture and fell off her shoulders with delicate beading, slim ankle trousers underneath.
There was plenty of ornate gold, including a fringed dress on Emma Stone that appeared part goddess, part flapper. It fit her perfectly. Charlize Theron, always a red carpet favorite, received the metallic dress memo, hers in a gold-pleated lame veiled in black by Dior Haute Couture, paired with huge 25-carat, pear-shaped diamond earrings from Chopard.
Dakota Johnson, in Gucci, carried off a strong, strong gold look that might not have worked on all, while Jessica Biel went for edgy textured gold with long sleeves, the latter a popular trend for the evening at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Negga accessorized with something extra on her first Oscar red carpet as a nominee—a blue ribbon in support of the ACLU. She gave kudos to the civil rights group for helping the real "Loving" couple as they fought their way to legal marriage as a mixed-race couple. And she shouted out her home country, Ireland, poised in her red tiara and statement earrings.
Her gown was long-sleeved with a high lace collar in a bright red that can be tricky on red carpets. As for the ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, Negga planned to enjoy her moment: "My win is my nomination." Negga's little ribbon popped up elsewhere on the red carpet, including the lapel of Lin-Manuel Miranda, who noted his tuxedo came from Yonkers, New York, the same shop where he got his high school prom tux in 1998.
A standout this awards season, "Elle" nominee Isabelle Huppert, shimmered in a blush-tone Armani Prive, her hair loose with diamond ear cuffs ideal punctuation marks. Does the French legend care about fashion? The dark lacquer on her nails popped against her belted gown with loose, romantic sleeves.
"Well it looks like I do pay a little bit of attention," she said. "I think all these things are rituals and you have to honor the rituals."
Also in Champagne: Felicity Jones, who wore a princess look that fell above the ankle. Kidman's look had just the right amount of sparkle in a jeweled halter style, bright red lips and her hair in a romantic bun.
Little Sunny Pawar, the kid star of "Lion" who has been a source of great fun on the carpet this season, flashed a peace symbol and adjusted his bow tie on the carpet in a bite-size, black tuxedo, a huge smile on his face and trainers on his feet.
Who slayed in trendy velvet? Presenter Taraji Henson, in off-shoulder deep blue by Alberta Ferretti and a diamond necklace perfect to show off her decolletage. She looked every bit the movie star with a high side slit. Her "Hidden Figures" co-star, Octavia Spencer, also went off the shoulder in a feathery dove-gray silk organza gown by Marchesa.
Ava Duvernay, the creator of the film "13th," wore high-neck, long-sleeved gray, pleats providing a bit of a bustle effect. Halle Berry wore a huge head of tousled curls (she usually rocks a pixie) to go with her slinky, one-shoulder dress. It was Versace Atelier beaded sheer, fresh from the runway.
Rocking two tones: Michelle Williams, plunging black on top and Champagne below the waist, by Louis Vuitton. It popped against her pixied platinum hair.
On the couples front, Chrissy Teigen joked with hubby John Legend on the carpet dressed in white Zuhair Murad Couture with gold embroidery and a dramatic cape. Legend wore Gucci. Another favorite carpet couple, Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, chatted amiably — he in a Tom Ford tux and she in a slinky KaufmanFranco textured gown with a statement gold-and-silver collar adornment that lent the appearance of metallic fringe.
Associated Press reporter Nicole Evatt contributed to this report.
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Photographs by Richard Shotwell, Jordan Strauss, Chris Pizello, and Matt Sayles for AP