Art Institute of Pittsburgh fashion students play red carpet critic for Oscars

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .


The Oscars can be a goldmine for "Oh!" and "Ugh!" fashion moments -- and a chance for asprining designers and buyers to put their knowledge of trends, construction and style to the test. 

Artist and designer Casey Droege, who has taught at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh since 2010, tasked students with applying what they've learned in the classroom to the looks worn by stars as they sauntered down the red carpet at the 85th Academy Awards. 

Here are their thoughts on some of the best and worst styles ... 


Sleek, classic styles dominate at Oscars by fashion design major Erica Ersik, 35, of Hopewell

JessicaChastainFrom sleek to classic silhouettes, the gowns were anything but uninteresting.  It was impossible to choose a "best dressed" because there were so many captivating looks.  The two most stunning were Jessica Chastain (right) in copper Armani Prive, reminiscent of old Hollywood, and Charlize Theron in a white, structured Dior Haute Couture.  As a designer, I love garments that have architectural influence. 

As for the less appealing, Jennifer Garner’s Gucci with the cascading ruffles down the back was not a favorite.  The award for risk taker goes to Halle Barry in Versace.  The gown was graphic with an art deco vibe that was eye-catching.  Renee Zellweger’s metallic gold Carolina Herrera was striking because it gave the impression of hammered metal.

With prom and wedding season approaching, designs are sure to gain influence from these red carpet looks.  The strapless, embossed Dior Haute Couture gown worn by Jennifer Lawrence is one to be replicated.  The designs at the Oscars accomplished their sole purpose, which is to make an impression!


Stars sparkle in sequins, beaded embellishments by fashion retail management major Megan Rossi, 24, of Youngstown, Ohio

AmyAdamsThe big trends were sequins/beaded embellishments.  Many dresses on the red carpet had some kind of embellishment work.

I absolutely loved Amy Adams (right) and Naomi Watts' gowns.  Amy's pale blue Oscar de la Renta with fitted bodice and full bottom flattered her figure.  Also, her makeup and hair just worked with this dress.  A+ to Amy's stylist!  Naomi Watts wore Armani Prive. Fun fact: she worked with the designer on the dress.  It was sequins galore, on trend with the night's other styles, and everything hit the right spot -- don't think many people could pull this shape off! 

Worst dressed:  This award goes to Anne Hathaway's pale pink Prada, which showed side cleavage.  The only thing Anne had going for her was the adorable haircut. I also wasn't a fan of Kerry Washington's coral Miu Miu.

I didn't feel like anyone was a risk taker this year, but it's worth mentioning that Helen Hunt wore a blue strapless dress from H&M.  I think you will see looks like these in the store, minus the $700,000 worth of jewels!


Celebs bring 'A' game to Academy Awards by fashion design major Trevor O'Neale, 23, of Baltimore, Md.  

OliviaMunnJessica Chastain looked absolutely entrancing, as she channeled something between old Hollywood glamour and the alluring radiance of Jessica Rabbit.  And Olivia Munn (right) in Marchesa -- need I say more? The actress blew us away wearing a beautiful red-and-gold embellished bodice with scoop back gown by Marchesa.  We can't forget about Catherine Zeta Jones, a gilded golden goddess in a metallic Zuhair Murad gown. Anne Hathaway also was beautifully chic in Prada, with crisscross straps across the back, back-tied sash and sultry slit. 

Sally Field, Jane Fonda and Emmanuelle Riva must be mentioned for their spectacular portrayal of an almost matriarchal manifestation when they stepped onto the scene. The architectural and streamlined look of Jane Fonda’s canary yellow Versace gown exuded pure majesty. Sally Field looked absolutely demure in a red pleated, sheer Valentino gown, and Emmanuelle Riva personified immaculate in a custom-made monochromatic Lavin gown with cape.

The Oscars brought to mind the regality of textiles of the Baroque Era, so I believe gowns for the upcoming prom and homecoming season will incoporate this trend of metallics and embellishments -- it's all about the details. I also see sneaking its way into mainstream fashion over the current uproar of jewel-toned colors is minimalism and the resurgence of neutral or maybe even earth tone colors. 


Metallic, edgy looks leave their mark by fashion retail management major Bri Proctor, 21, of Pittsburgh

NaomiWattsMetallic, edgy, ink-colored gowns definitely made their mark on the red carpet, and we can expect to start seeing some similar takes on the sparkly statement trickling down to the larger markets.  Stars such as Naomi Watts (at right, in Armani Prive), Nicole Kidman (in L’Wren Scott) and Jennifer Hudson (in Roberto Cavalli) turned a lot of heads as their gowns glimmered down the carpet.

Also, an important beauty trend to note: the “wave.”  Old Hollywood is definitely coming back, as actresses Reese Witherspoon, Naomie Harris and Catherine Zeta Jones all opted for old-school, voluminous, smooth waves in their hair to simply, yet glamorously, accent their gowns.

Then there is always someone who puts in all the effort and seems to fall short of what was expected from them.  Jennifer Aniston lacked her usual “wow” factor in her voluminous red Valentino dress.  Though she could never look bad, Aniston just didn’t have that glow that fans look forward to seeing.  Some hot rollers, a slimmer cut gown and an edgy accessory would have spruced the look right up!

Associated Press photos


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