Watching The Oscars is always a chore. Everyone in fashion has to watch the ceremony for the clothes, and those of us who teach have a special obligation to observe the show carefully. The Academy Awards are a gift to class discussions, not only in terms of the dresses, but in terms of the broader issues the event suggests. As strange as it may sound to those who watch The Oscars for fun, the ceremony is a pretty good barometer of what our culture as a whole is feeling.
That understood, I came away from The 86th Academy Awards feeling sort of good. Host Ellen DeGeneres teased the A-List stars, but her banter was playful and good-natured. The acceptance speeches were eloquent and genuine, quite a change from Anne Hathaway’s overly rehearsed and faux-emotional acceptance speech last year. Although the ceremony’s theme (Celebrating Heroes) didn’t come across, the fact that heroes, both real and fictional, were applauded at all was a pleasant and positive departure.
As for the fashion, nobody dressed to shock, with both ladies and gentlemen looking elegant, grown-up, and respectful of the ceremony.
Were there missteps? Well, of course. The producers should have seen that Kim Novak, at 81, wasn’t truly up to the task of presenting. John Travolta’s mispronunciation of singer Idina Menzel’s name was so completely off that one wonders if the wrong name had been written on his autocue. Still, these were minor moments in a ceremony that was good humored, warm, focused on family (heartening to see how many nominees came with their moms!), and succeeded in humanizing the galaxy of stars whom we usually see airbrushed to perfection on the cover of a magazine...and all it took was a slice of pizza.
Amanda Hallay is a full-time professor at LIM College where she teaches courses that explore the relationship – both past and present – with fashion and the world that wears it.