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Last Updated: Monday, 1 March, 2004, 13:43 GMT
Back to glamour for Oscar frocks

By Marcelle d'Argy Smith
Former Cosmopolitan magazine editor

Charlize Theron and Renee Zellweger
The best actresses pose for the cameras
Many of the stars nominated for this year's Oscars were not what you'd call household names. But what really kept us glued to our sets was who would win Best Frock.

Who'd look breathtaking? Whose outfit would make us groan? How much flesh would be exposed? Would any female lead who isn't a size two be allowed into the theatre?

With the exception of Renee Zellwegger in a strapless white satin dress that draped across her voluptuous hour-glass figure, bigger-than-size-two women certainly weren't allowed in the front row.

Renee wore a diamond bracelet, no earrings, her blonde hair swept off her face into a gentle twist at the back of her neck. She looked simply sensational.

In pictures
Naomi Watts

Slender Aussie Naomi Watts, nominated for 21 Grams, had a similar hairdo. Her pale gold sparkling strapless dress hugged her elegant body and she's one of those women that men and women sigh about.

Charlize Theron, clutching her Oscar for best actress, may have been the most beautiful woman in the room. That was a close call.

Her golden strappy dress with the kick pleat at the front looked marvellous against her pale tan. A wide diamond bracelet lent just the right note of old-style Hollywood glamour.

What was striking this year was the absence of flesh. Partly, of course, because few female stars have any, but even those that do were not baring it.

Fifty-something Susan Sarandon has Tim Robbins, sex appeal in spades, an Oscar and beautiful breasts. She was one of the few, maybe because she's one of the old school, maybe because her breasts are real, who decided to show off.

A wide shoulder strap of her black dress fell half way down her right arm all evening. We were left in little doubt as to the size and shape of her charms. Yes, of course, Susan Sarandon gets away with it.

Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts arrived flanked by two friends
This was the year of so many elegant, ladylike, feminine dresses that cleavage is beginning to look coarse. The big story is satin.

Sofia Coppola looked simple and understated in a black satin, plunge neck dress with little frills on the shoulders. No cleavage, of course, and hair that looked glossy and natural as if she'd just washed it herself.

Angelina Jolie looked positively majestic in a halter-necked, creamy satin, flowing, plunge to the waist dress. Again, not a hint of cleavage.

Another figure who looked simply terrific was Oprah Winfrey. She wore a 1950s-style grey taffeta moiré long sleeved low necked dress with a full skirt.

The diamond drop earrings shone against her black flicked hair. She was faultless.

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson starred in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation
The young woman who is unbelievably beautiful, talented, poised with the body of a real flesh-and-blood woman is Scarlett Johansson.

She wowed in skin tight dark sea green satin with a simple row of pearls.

It's possible she's beaten Angelina Jolie to the Sexiest Mouth in Hollywood award and with her pale blonde wavy hair, scarlet lips and throaty, knowing voice she's Monroe and Bacall rolled into one.

Who did messy? Sir Ben Kingsley's much younger new wife who he insisted on introducing as "Lady Kingsley" looked like a Barbie doll with masses of tumbling long blonde hair and little black dress.

Catherine Zeta Jones
Zeta Jones arriving for the Vanity Fair party
Julia Roberts never seems to get it completely right. A pale coffee-coloured satin plunge dress clasped with jewels at the waist draped across a boyish figure. Her hair is a mass of tumbling streaked curls. Yes, she has the widest smile in the business but will someone instil some hair and fashion sense into her?

But as for Catherine Zeta Jones - she looked predictably chocolate-box beautiful in a tight red clinging dress with lots of intricate design detail in the material.

She's old-style glamour. She's straight out of How To Marry A Millionaire, her accent wavers from Burbank to Port Talbot. Last year she got an Oscar and this year Bill Murray, wearing Helmut Lang, didn't. Hooray for Hollywood.

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