The biggest upset of Oscar night wasn’t “Crash.” It was Charlize Theron’s gown.
The South African actress shocked viewers and fashion insiders on the red carpet with her haute couture “scissor” gown selection by John Galliano. “Two years ago, she won the Oscar for ‘Monster,'” says stand-up comedian Liam McEneaney. “This year, she came as ‘The Creature From the Black Lagoon.’ ”
Looking like an origami project gone awry, the garbage-bag-green-colored silk satin gown that Theron wore was wrong in every way – from the puffy bow on her left shoulder to the “X marks the spot” folds in the center.
“It looks like she has two heads,” says celebrity stylist Robert Verdi. “She clearly didn’t want to talk to the person on her left.”
Theron, who is the face of Christian Dior’s perfume J’adore, rarely misses a fashion beat on the red carpet, but this might join the ranks of historical fashion faux pas like Demi Moore’s bicycle shorts and Bjork’s swan dress.
So, what happened? How did one of Hollywood’s favorite A-list dressers choose such a dud?
“It’s one of those sad things where couture doesn’t translate to the red carpet,” says celebrity stylist Philip Bloch.
“There’s been many other cases, like when Celine Dion wore a tuxedo jacket. Or when Jennifer Garner wore that white lace Oscar de la Renta with the bow at the waist, but people said it looked like a tablecloth.”
Possibly, Theron tried too hard.
Hal Rubenstein, fashion editor of In Style magazine, says Theron is “very particular” about her fashion selections, and instead of choosing from 27 dresses on a rack, she comes up with a concept and then sends the dress back and forth to the designer, in this case John Galliano.
“She knows just what she is doing,” Rubenstein says. “She has a firm grasp on how she looks. Once, she sent back a dress because it was the color of a rose. But what she wanted was the color of the edges of the rose when the rose started to fade.”
Theron’s stylist Lisa Michelle Boyd also goofed by not snapping a polaroid picture of the actress beforehand.
“Now that I see the photos, I pick her as worst dressed,” says Joan Rivers, who initially named Theron best dressed on the red carpet.
“Truly, I’m telling you when she walked on the carpet in real life, she blew everybody out of the box. I wanted to rip it off her and wear it to Buckingham palace.”
“Then, I saw her on camera, and it looked like she was hiding a hickey.”
Still, celebrity stylist Robert Verdi applauds Theron for pushing the envelope, saying that the dress will be remembered for years to come, ending up on postcards and collector’s items.
“It was dramatic and iconic,” he says. “People judge it because everyone likes a Miss America pageant.
“Still, she pushed it and she did it and it’s going to live on. But nobody will remember the negative things. They’ll only remembered she took the risk.”