Oscar Fashion vs. Globes: What’s the Big Difference?


Awards season is a veritable smorgasbord of red carpet fashion. Stars bring out the big guns and riskier styles, knowing that now more than ever, all eyes are on them. And no red carpets are more memorable that the yearly Globes and Oscars walks. The fun-loving, younger sibling Globes has already paraded its fashion offerings before us, and this Sunday, Feb. 26, it’s the Oscars turn and the biggest question on many of our minds is: what will everyone wear? Well, with the help of acclaimed fashion designer Marc Bouwer and stylist to the stars Robert Verdi, we’re taking a look at red carpet patterns from years past and this year’s trends to prepare ourselves for the gamut of Oscar gowns.

Every year, we spy an array of disparate, risky, and colorful Globes gowns and by the time we get to the Oscars a month later, our favorite stars have whittled those experiments down to a more polished, austere look for biggest night in Hollywood. Part of that stems from the fact that the Globes are simply more laid back, like a Sunday night dinner party for the A-list, whereas the Oscars is more of an honorable ceremony and the big parties come afterward.

For high res images click on the image to visit our Golden Globes gallery.


No stranger to dressing stars for the red carpet (just ask Melissa Leo’s 2011 Oscars dress, which he designed), Bouwer helped us hone in on some of the differences between the ceremonies: “There are probably brighter colors worn to the Globes. People take a little more of a risk because it’s more casual,” he said. In fact, just looking through last year’s photos, those elements are clear. In 2011 we found Michelle Williams taking a risk with a juvenile daisy frock at the Globes, and following it up with a demure, effervescent ivory Chanel gown at the Oscars. Natalie Portman also got a little more playful at the Globes, showing off her baby bump with a ballerina pink dress with ruby red rose detail, and toning it down with a gorgeous, mature royal purple gown for the Academy.

Even Scarlett Johansson made sleeker choices when it came time for the Oscars, eschewing her risky and polarizing windswept updo for a sleeker, more modern bob. Verdi explains the shift, “Oscar fashion is always more dramatic and glam and amped up than the Globes. At the Globes, the stars get to have more fun with what they wear.” The Globes are the place for the dramatic and risky – Anne Hathaway’s head to toe nude sequins and January Jones’ racy, revealing scarlet dress would be huge risks for the Oscars, but at the Globes, they fit right in.

And as Bouwer sees it, that’s because the stars “save the best for last.” He said stars “really zero in on the style that is their favorite for the Oscars, and their second choice is for the Globes.” Perhaps that’s why the Oscars often see such classic lines, like Jennifer Lawrence’s simple, yet eye-opening red gown or Mila Kunis’ delicate, feminine lavender dress.

While there’s certainly a bit of a pattern for 2011’s shifts from Globes to Oscars looks, in 2012 things seem to be a little more complicated. Looking through the looks from this year’s Globes, we see a great deal of risk – a symptom Bauer attributes to a larger shift. “There is definitely a futuristic move in fashion,” Bouwer said, adding, “…the shoulders and the sleeve treatment, the geometric cuts, the asymmetry, the sharpness of silhouettes. These are the people leading fashion in a new direction.”

That futuristic look was rampant at the Globes this year. From Salma Hayek’s geometric, glistening bustier, to Rooney Mara’s severe, yet elegant black dress, to Emma Stone’s hipster glam blood red gown – edgier was better at this year’s Globes.

For high res images, click on the photo to visit our 2012 Globes gallery.


Of course, two stars in particular really shined in that arena: Angelina Jolie and Tilda Swinton. Angie donned a floor length white silk gown that hugged every inch of her svelte shape. It was demure and expected, except for one crucial element: the pop of red peeking out at the top of her dress. “The slash of red makes this dress look very modern,” said Bouwer. “It still has that old world glamour and romanticism, but it’s vampy and it’s clean.” It’s no wonder Jolie topped countless best-dressed lists. Swinton’s androgynous, yet romantic look had fashion experts talking for weeks: she combined the romantic mermaid silhouette and soft light blue tone with her signature, more severe tailoring with the tuxedo jacket on top. “That is architecture and romanticism coming together absolutely beautifully,” said Bouwer.

But how will these edgier looks inform Oscars fashion? Last year, a few risk takers braved more innovative looks on the red carpet, and Verdi sees that trend continuing, “I think that for The Oscars we’ll see an eclectic assortment of styles, some futuristic and some modern,” he said. In fact, Cate Blanchett’s white, structured and embellished frock arrested everyone’s attention in 2011, drawing awe and ire alike. Melissa Leo followed up her architectural, black 2011 Globes dress with another structured and polarizing gown. Those dresses were not just a few risky flukes. Bouwer sees us shifting towards more futuristic fashion: “It started with Gaga…the essence of that is filtering down into wearable sophisticated style,” he said. And with the edgier looks moving to the forefront of fashion – both Bouwer and Verdi name avant garde “it” girl Rooney Mara as one of Hollywood’s top fashionistas – we could be in for a very interesting red carpet come Sunday’s “ultimate fashion show.” Besides the only dresses that are still talked about for years to come are the ones that shocked us. Stars would be wise to take a little more risk. 

For high res images, click on the photo to visit our 2011 Oscars gallery.

And as Verdi puts it, “A lot of women want to be noticed as great tastemakers and trendsetters and fashion leaders and therefore they try to find a gown that suits not only their personal image but their idea of what beauty, glamour, and star style is.” As lovely as Amy Adams looked in her demure navy Oscars gown and as lovely as Michelle Williams was in a glittery Chanel dress in 2011, all we could talk about was Blanchett’s revolutionary silhouette or Mila Kunis’ daring neckline. After all, the Oscars ceremony is the perfect time to make a statement – it’s one night when the whole world stops to admire Hollywood royalty in their finest. But no matter what the outcome – geometric cuts, romantic princess gowns, or boring old strapless getups – we’ll have plenty to talk about come carpet time.