What Happened at the Oscars?
The Best Dressed List from the 2022 Academy Awards and the Vanity Fair Afterparty
As a metric for which movies matter, award shows are obsolete.
How many of us watched all — if any — of the nominated films? And how many of us — if any — agreed with the nominations, let alone the Academy’s seemingly arbitrary rulings? All of it seems arbitrary. The culture — aka the internet — decides what has staying power. And time decides what’s truly tasteful.
When it comes to the Academy Awards, what matters is the ceremony. And during the pandemic’s lonnngggg nights of cultural drought we were utterly starved for pomp and circumstance. With no gowns, no drama, and no candid interactions between unanticipated and newly famous people (this year’s best and least predictable conversation pairing: Bradley Cooper and Zendaya), what was the point?
But now we’re back in business. Are we better for it? Debatable.
The 2022 Academy Awards — held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles — were a fledgling attempt to make a bygone Hollywood ritual interesting again. It was packed with painfully engineered bids for relevancy. Each and every moment felt like a cry for help or a cry for attention — from having three hosts to those random, confusing performance moments. Some of these attempts at virality fell flat … meanwhile unexpected, unprecedented moments got all the talk.
All of this is to say: the only thing the Oscars are good for are the outfits. Besides, I consider this whole award season a tedious lead-up for the Met Gala in May. So until that blessed Monday, I’m left with red carpets for ceremonies that nobody watches.
At least this year brought a bevy of elegance, bright colors, and unexpected risks that actually paid off. Here are some of the best looks from the glossy night:
Queen Bee opened the show with her chill-inducing performance of her Oscar-nominated song “Be Alive.” Featured on the King Richard soundtrack— spoiler alert: it didn’t win … somehow Billie Elish did? Still, Beyonce stunned in a neon, tennis-ball colored dress by David Kona. In all honesty, they should have ended the show then and there. But they didn’t. And so we persist.
Red carpet royalty Timothee Chalamet wore one of the night’s buzziest outfits of — I mean who can resist a sparking disco ball of a heartthrob in black sequins? His womenswear-inspired cropped Louis Vuitton jacket was paired with that daringly bare torso and Cartier white gold. The feminine and masculine touches blended to form one of the most eye-catching and memorable looks of the night. He never disappoints.
Seems like Jessica Chastain has been on the campaign trail for a year. Since her Emmy campaign for Scenes of a Marriage and now her achingly vulnerable performance as the title character in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, she’s pulled no shortage of delectable styles. This ombre Gucci look would have been worth her Oscar alone, and that little gold statue made for the ideal accessory.
Jada Pinkett Smith
All that can be said about The Sl*p has already been said so I will — dear reader — conscientiously refrain from commenting. I will say: Jada’s daring emerald couture dress swallowed up any who dared to go near her on the red carpet. As it should! This statement piece is not for the faint of heart so Jada was the one and only person to carry this matchless couture look!
Venus Williams and Serena Williams
Celebrating the Best Picture nominated bio-pic about their lives, the Williams sisters showed up looking every bit the main characters they are! Venus was the picture of minimal elegance in a sleek, white Elie Saab gown — let’s not overlook that gorgeous curved cutout. Meanwhile, Serena floated down the carpet in a chiffon pink Gucci gown with striking black details and accessories.
Celebrating her role as Venus Williams in King Richard, Saniyya Sidney made her Oscars debut in not one but two of the best looks of the night. Both gowns were whimsical for her age, while also making timeless fashion statements. We have a new fashion icon in our midst and I’m so excited to see what she does next.
Not to be left out, Demi Singleton, who plays Serena in the feature film, rounded out the fearsome foursome in a custom Miu Miu gown. That cursed skirt set is behind us. And in its wake, one of the most luscious gowns of the night.
Star of Pam and Tommy, it only made sense that Lily James rock this 90s/early-2000s inspired Versace look. Pink is the color of the season — so Lily was one in a long line of gorgeous women in gorgeous rose-hued gowns. This delicate lace number was the perfect choice for James, especially when paired with those hot pink platform heels.
In another pink gown, television personality Zuri Hall understood the assignment. It’s giving Disney princess. It’s giving regal. It’s giving Valentine’s bouquet. And we want more, more, more.
More pink! Mila was an awards statue in herself with her classically fitted, metallic rose drapery. The tailoring, the color, the flow: everything hit every right note. Brava.
Megan Thee Stallion
Megan! Megan! Megan! Before her viral remix of Encanto’s “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” took place on the stage, Megan had business to attend to: shutting down the red carpet. In her Gaurav Gupta gown she looked pure Botticelli's “Birth of Venus.” And that’s all I have to say about that.
Who said nude tones can’t be exciting? Regina Hall looked ethereal, yet regal, in shades of brown. Her Vera Wang look was one of the most thrilling of the night and didn’t need any garish hues to make it so.
In my book, Schiaparelli can do no wrong. This ornate, custom dress on Maggie Gyllenhaal was giving Met Gala 2018: Heavenly Bodies. Which is to say, it was quite the statement, quite the art piece, and it reminded me of better days.
Ever since her unforgettable 2014 Oscars debut, Lupita Nyong'o has proven that she’s one of the best-dressed people in the world. This Prada look only confirms what we already knew: she’s perfect and we want to be her.
Chloe Bailey and Halle Bailey
When Angelina Jolie strutted along the 2012 Oscar’s red carpet in a daring leg slit that went up to her hip, she couldn’t have imagined the impact it would have on future fashionistas. This year, the singing sisters both showed some leg in boundary-pushing pastel. Astonishing.
Kodi Smit McPhee
Supporting actor nominee Kodi Smit McPhee flaunting Bottega Veneta was yet another standout in pastel. But rather than looking like a vintage prom disaster in a powder blue tux, this suit paired with elegant silver jewelry was one of the night’s standouts.
Another suit moment that dared to venture beyond the classic black tux was Simu Liu in custom Versace. One of the most likable celebrities on the carpet, Liu’s outfit was similarly well-received for its slim fit and ravishing hue.
After much strife and controversy, Miss Zegler made it to the carpet — and thank goodness! Her effortlessly fitted black gown and sweet, unexpected bob were some of the top sartorial choices of the night.
If I know one thing, it’s that Dakota Johnson is going to kill a Gucci look. The Vanity Fair Oscar party was no exception. Dramatic feathers balanced sedated shades for a look that dominated most of the main show.
Yes, I too thought I’d had enough of those barely-there, bejeweled “naked dresses” after the 2021 Met Gala. But I was wrong. British model Adwoa Aboah proved that there is still room for a YSL sheer dress in my heart and this is the one.
Sorry … one more … and it’s Timothee Chalamet … again
Most stars engaged in the age-old outfit change between the Oscars and the Vanity Fair Oscar party. But none as strikingly as Timothee Chalamet. After his elegant show of sequins and lace he wore to the ceremony proper, Chalamet changed it up completely by showing up at the Vanity Fair party in all leather. The stark contrast from feminine to masculine materials was vestiary genius. My hat: off to him. My jaw: on the floor. It’s giving juxtaposition. It’s giving duality. It’s giving range. Get you a man who can do both.