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Last Updated: Monday, 6 March 2006, 05:41 GMT
Oscar dresses seek glamour return
By Ellie Levenson
Fashion writer

The theme was "return to glamour" said host Jon Stewart. He was right for many of the actresses attending the 78th Oscar ceremony.

Michelle Williams
Michelle Williams went for the brave option of a yellow Vera Wang
Ziyi Zhang dazzled in a black bustier with a full skirt covered in Swarovski crystals by Giorgio Armani while Jessica Alba sparkled in a gold Versace halterneck.

Jada Pinkett Smith glowed in strapless sapphire blue Roberto Cavalli and Queen Latifah shone in a black Carmen Marc Valvo dress with layers of shiny material cut on the bias that shimmered as she walked.

J-Lo also went for glamour, eschewing the Jenny from the Block image to go for full on Jennifer Lopez style in a stunning floor-length vintage green gown.

It is often said that empire line dresses make even the slimmest of stars look pregnant. Rachel Weisz, winner of best supporting actress, really is seven months pregnant, and looked beautiful in her black silk empire line dress by Narciso Rodriguez.

Charlize Theron's dress was one of many striking outfits on show

Mismatched necklace

Yellow is a brave choice for anyone to wear; there's certainly no melting into the background if you realise halfway through that you've made a fashion faux pas.

Renee Zellweger carried it off in 2001 with a lemon yellow gown from the vintage haute couture collection Lily et Cie gown, as did Cate Blanchett last year in her pale yellow Valentino.

Michelle Williams, nominated for best supporting actress for Brokeback Mountain, chose to follow in their footsteps this year.

She wasn't a winner with an Oscar but her dress, a canary yellow number with a plunging tulle neckline and a classical style skirt by Vera Wang was.

Also in Vera Wang was Keira Knightley, in a burgundy one shouldered gown which made her look far older than her 20 years and didn't really go with her very large sapphire, emerald and ruby necklace.

Charlize Theron's dress came with an enormous shoulder bow

Earlier this year Reese Witherspoon's Golden Globe dress caused fashion editors to snigger into their champagne cocktails when they realised they had seen the Chanel frock a few years earlier, worn by Kirsten Dunst.

Witherspoon was the only one wearing her vintage Christian Dior white gown with its horizontal rows of silver beads at the Oscars.

Eccentric British males

It made her look a little bit like a curtain, but a very pretty curtain and, after winning her Oscar for best actress, a very happy one.

Of course the men do fashion too, albeit in a slightly more understated way. Host Jon Stewart opted to go for a plain black tie over the more traditional bow tie. So did Will Smith with his midnight blue ensemble.

Wearing bow ties however and representing a certain type of eccentric British male were Nick Park and Steve Box whose film Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit won best animated film and who collected their award wearing rather large, matching, stripy ones.

The night before the Oscars were the Golden Raspberries Awards, better known as the Razzies, awards that "honour" the worst films and actors.

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton wowed the red carpet in pink
If there was a Razzie for worst Oscar dress there would have been two lead contenders: Charlize Theron who wore a Christian Dior dress which would have been nice had it not been for the absolutely huge and completely pointless bow on her shoulder, and Naomi Watts who eclipsed the misplaced bow with her one shoulder tulle Givenchy dress.

Underarm netting

Perhaps she was merely showing commitment to her role as Ann Darrow in King Kong - it certainly looked like it might have been a nice dress once before being dragged by a giant ape through a jungle inhabited by dinosaurs.

But it was the older women, bar Felicity Huffman in an extremely low cut Zac Posen with underarm netting, who showed the youngsters a thing or two about what to wear on the red carpet.

Joan Rivers looked like she was having a great time in her grey floor length off the shoulder dress with a band of feathers around the bust; Italian Cristina Comencini, director of best foreign language film nominee Don't Tell in a black dress with a funky jacket; Dame Judi Dench in an Eastern inspired turquoise gown with embroidered floor length jacket.

And then there was Dolly Parton who managed it twice, appearing on the red carpet in a baby pink chiffon split number and changing into a white suit with sparkles for her rendition of Travelin' Thru from the film Transamerica.

See some of the dresses worn at this year's Oscars

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