Peacock or Chameleon?


by Camilla Ridley

Oscars 2019 Red Carpet Lady Gaga

What are the key trends from the Oscars and what is the awards season telling us about how we should dress for special occasions this spring-summer?

Did you see Charlize Theron and Constance Wu at the Oscars last night? Didn’t they look fabulous? Two very different dresses but I bet they both felt like a million dollars. And poor Glenn Close. I mean if you go dressed as an Oscar you could probably be accused of tempting fete. But if she'd probably would have become the iconic 2019 oscars dress and we all might be going to weddings and  Ascot looking like extras in a Spandau Ballet video!

And while it seems like there’s a stark difference in the dresses at the three major awards ceremonies (The Grammy’s, Bafta’s and Oscars), this year three uniting principles for special occasion stood out. And if you look more closely, a clear thread of this season’s key fashion trends is clearly visible running through all of the most successful looks. 

To analyse this and discuss the impact the awards outfits are going to have on occasion wear this year, we’ve assembled our Ridley London Panel of experts. Joining me on the panel tonight is 'on trend' influencer Becky from @bricksandstitches and celebrity stylist Annie Miall. So if you're ready ladies, lets start with our first Oscars Night insight and a key trend for this spring summer...

Janelle Monae at the Grammys and Olivia Coleman at The Baftas

Two very different approaches to monochrome. The attendees at The Grammy Awards adorned the step and repeat with avant grade costumery while those who graced the red carpet at The Baftas were far more demure. Janelle Monae at the Grammys and Olivia Coleman at The Bafta Awards.  


Unique to this year was the splash of colour, variety and depth of hue in dress choice. We are all in agreement that this trend toward bold and vibrant colours is both a personal statement of and a response to last year’s ‘Times Up’ dress code decree of black only for The Golden Globes, Baftas and (less enthusiastically) at The Oscars, issued in solidarity of the #metoo movement. Pink, in particular, was a key feature and the brighter the better.

Annie: Colour is always my first port of call when beginning the process of selecting that dress for that occasion. It is the ultimate suggestion of the personality one wishes to project and it's the opportunity to use colour to make a statement. And just as we must, stars of the silver screen choose the uniform best suited for the occasion and whether to use the event to stand out- ‘the peacock effect’ or to blend in - ‘the chameleon effect’. Ultimately every attendee should choose a dress that will flatter the body- that the cut, colour and fabric make her look and, as a bi-product, feel confident at a moment when the world's cameras are on her with fashion critics in toe. 

Becky: I love a splash of colour and I'm definitely noticing a trend tonight and across the fashion press in general right now to very bright 'hot colours'. I always feel colour is quite a personal thing though and some colours really suit me while others don't. Do you think the colours on show tonight have been specifically matched with the wearers? 

Annie: The classic colour theory is right and if you look at the really hot colours on show tonight, they're almost exclusively all being worn by actresses with dark features, so tanned complexion and dark hair. And it’s true bold colours need to be applied with a little more control for those with fairer complexions but it certainly doesn’t rule them out altogether. Just look at Helen Mirren. Wow. A veritable English Rose if there ever was one. But didn’t she look great. The skill here was the way the hot pink tulle chiffon was carefully layered to give the impression of bold monochrome but with added subtlety of depth.

CamillaAnd balanced with a very classical shape and flattering plunging neckline. But most importantly it really fitted like a glove, creating an overall effect of lightness, effervecents and fashionability. Effortless modern elegance personified!  👍

Becky: 👍

Annie: Absolutely 👍


AnnieI also thought Contance Wu's yellow Versace dress was also absolutely beautiful. And once again the secret here was striking the perfect balance of bold colour that really suited her matched with an understatedly classical shape, clever tailoring and an almost floorless fit that really enhanced her slender form and features.

BeckyLoved it. In full agreement here. 👍

Camilla: Me too. Yellow can be a hard one to pull off. I think the lesson here is if you add extra detailing, whether it's through layering and texture or print. And the cut really flatters you're always onto a winner. Especially if it looks like you're not trying too hard to stand out or upstage anyone. This rule on striking the right balance mixing chameleon with peacock especially applies to more formal English environments like traditional daytime weddings or the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. 👍  

AnnieI really couldn't agree more with you on this Camilla. 👍


Vibrant Colours - 'Pretty in Pink'

 Oscars 2019 vibrant colours silk dresses

Hot pink made a splash on the red carpet on (from top right) Angela Bassett and Gemma Chan in Valentino. Helen Mirren's dress cleverly plays with colour through multiple layers of chiffon and Constance Wu wears a yellow silk maxi dress by Versace.



Metallics were embraced by many of the attendees in, primarily, slim fitting gowns. This look proved solid as a fashion forward alternative to the sequins of yesteryear with the finish applied to soft colour palates as well as traditional jewel tones.

Oscars 2019 red carpet metallic dresses

Emelia Clarke poses in lilac metallic, while Glenn Close chose gold in a nod to the Oscar statue in Carolina Herrera. The train alone weighed 42 lbs. Awkwafina, of Crazy Rich Asians, dawned the pale metallic in a stylish suite complete with silk pussy bow blouse.

Probably most boldly embraced by J-LOs slinky mirror ball number. Great for an Oscars party or an Ibiza nightclub…but probably not a Surrey wedding or the Royal enclosure.

Annie: I couldn’t agree more with the analysis here. And once again it’s touching on the point of embracing context and striking the right balance between peacock and chameleon. Although the choice of gold was somewhat misjudged in hindsight, Glenn Close’s incredible gold gown with its extraordinary cloak style train really flattered her and helped her to look fabulous. 

Camilla: Metallics are definitely a key look for this season and have been on our trend radar for sometime now. Although they’re not totally mirrorball, some new metallic styles have just arrived in store at Ridley & Co. To add a little more versatility we’ve layered these sparkling statement finishes with lace and chiffon so their reflective essence is just a little more demure.  

Becky: Camilla has just shown us these metallic lace numbers and I’ve got to say they’re really eye-catching and bang on trend. I love them but not sure they would work on the mother of the bride?!

Annie: I think it depends on style and the time of the event. Just look at Glenn Close. If it’s a fabulous summer evening celebration…why not. But I agree with avoiding full mirror ball…especially here in England. there’s nothing worse than suddenly finding you’re reflecting and blending in with the grey weather! On the other hand I think the dash of colour is great. Epitomised at the Oscars by the awesome Awkwafina. This season’s must have wide legged trouser suit,  super cool retro cut and finished in pastel lilac metallic. the perfect balance of chameleon and peacock. Again I thought Emelia Clarke’s beauty elegant metallic lilac maxi dress got the balance just right for the Oscars this year.

Camilla: I wasn't sure about Awkwafina’s trouser suit but loved the fabulous oversized pussy bow. A fantastically cool nuanced statement and bang on the big bow trend for this spring summer.  If you want to add a bit of an edge to the ubiquitous cream trouser suit this summer and you’re looking to make a bit of a style statement…all be it a slightly British one…why not try one of our new Kathy silk blouses available in a range of solids or floral designs. 

Camilla: Let's return to the aforementioned dress worn by Glenn Close. I loved the cut. I think this dress is sympathetic to her age without making her look matronly. 

Becky: Agreed, I love the neckline. The dress was age appropriate. Given that it made her look like the Oscar statue, it would have been the dress of the evening had she won.

Annie: I think she looked regal and elegant- the elder stateswoman in the room. I knew she would go classic, as this is in keeping with her personal style, however I'm surprised she chose gold in view of her 7 previous Oscar nominations that didn't result in the gold statue.

Camilla: Well, I think we’re in agreement on this one; the dress would have been more meaningful had she won. She does looks fabulous though. 👍

Becky: Agree about how she looks in the dress. I think she's a peacock, 👍


Skirting- Big and Tiered

This year saw more attention to the skirt than the bodice with big and tiered skirting through layering tiered seems and tulle under skirting. In this way, the attendees were relying on garment structure to portray an hour glass figure. The surprise of the night was, for the first time on a man, seeing the skirting in Billy Porter’s tuxedo gown by Christian Siriano.

Oscars 2019 red carpet man dress

Billy Porter made history with his tuxedo dress. Gemma Chan in a chic pink dress with tiered skirt and Tina Fey in blue draped dress with knife pleated skirt.


Camilla: We are seeing quite a lot of big skirting tonight. I like the way that it’s being used in place of needless embellishments. I think a lot of the attendees have discovered that you can make a big impact with the structure of the garment. This is far more sophisticated than bejewelling a figure hugging gown.

Annie: This is more fashion forward and something I think we started seeing at The Met Ball. The stars are becoming more experimental in their dress structure choices. The dress works if the choice is compatible to the body type, flattering the figure.

Becky: For me, the chicest dress of the night was worn by Gemma Chan from Mary Queen of Scots. The tiered skirting, the way that the silhouette was exaggerated really worked for her. 👍

 Camilla: I liked it as well. The high neckline ruffle really shaped the look. It’s important to note that as she wasn’t a presenter nor a nominee, it’s easier for Gemma Chan to be more experimental with her choice of dress. 👍

Annie: It was a bold choice because the cut was asymmetrical and the colour bold. Those two elements worked together rather than competing. She looked beautiful 👍

Tina Fey

Becky: Tina Fey played it safe with a strapless gown with a pleated skirt. I’m happy that knife pleating is back. It looks just as strong in printed fabrics as it does in solids. I’m all over this one. 👍

Annie: This dress is quite sophisticated as there is pleating in the drape of the bodice as well as in the skirt. The colour is fabulous. Love it! 👍

Camilla: The dress has a train as well. Other than your own wedding, when can a girl wear a train? This is a classic for the ages; a beautiful dress. 👍



This year, lace and tulle graced the red carpet with aplomb. Generous layering created chic silhouettes inspired by the costume elegance of classical dance.

 The Oscar Red Carpet- silk tulle dresses

Best actress in a supporting role nominee Marina de Tavira achieved an elegant silhouette with copious layers of silk tulle. Linda Cardelini made a splash in red tulle.

With strong looks from nominees Marina de Tavira and Kacey Musgraves, the best looks featured a fitted bodice with a tulle skirt, however some of the guests, like Linda Cardelini, threw caution to the wind and wore the look top to bottom.

Annie: How do you ladies feel about the tulle tonight?

Camilla: I think it’s youthful and playful. I quite like the fullness in the skirts.

Becky: I may be wrong, but I think it has to be age appropriate.

Camilla: Linda Cardelini’s look has come up for a lot of criticism, particularly in the tabloid press. My husband thinks the dress is uber chic. What do you think?

Annie: This is a good illustration of getting the balance between spectacle and sophistication and on that front, its a dress that's divided opinion! Normally I would say that its too much up top but in this case I think she gets away with it with the plunging neckline. Its daring and different and if you aren't a nominee or presenter isn't this your chance to have some fun?

Becky: I think I'm going to sit on the fence on this one.

Camilla: I'm inclined to agree with Becky on this one.


The Modern Prairie

The prairie dress remains on trend for day wear and variations on the cut are moving into evening. A number of attendees and presenters alike were balancing signature elements from the look to create modern inspirations with varying degrees of success. Even E network’s fashion panel expert from the red carpet broadcast was seen proudly sporting this season’s must have style with it’s signature high neck, billowing sleeves in the hot pink colour so prevalent on the red carpet. Without doubt, the printed silk prairie dress is the must have garment for this spring summer and we’re likely to be seeing them everywhere in varying degrees of American boho style. What makes them so great is their flattering, elongating maxi dress length and their demure high neck lines. For me the styles that really worked were all exquisitely fitted and perfectly balanced with a mixture of subtle colour and delicate lace detailing. Of course, the key to success is working carefully with the wearer to enhance their natural body shape.

Oscars 2019 red carpet Charlize Theron

Academy award winner Charlize Theron in Dior.

Becky: If you are looking to elegantly stand out from the prairie crowd I absolutely loved Charlize Theron’s Dior dress. It was such an inspired minimalists take on the classic Prairie. She just looked awesome.

Camilla: I agree, I loved it. The crisply understated  silhouette just nodded to the prairies and the powder blue silk worked brilliantly with Charlize’s slender figure and new dark bob. It oozed class delivering a refined hourglass silhouette. And the high halter neck line, puff shoulders and sleeves were brilliantly balanced with the surprise reveal of the scooped back.

Annie: A lot of the media have been unsure about this very fashion forward dress. But the key to success is the way it enhances Charlize’s natural slender physique. Chic is the word and such an elegant and original take on the Prairie dress. I’m not sure this dress would work so well on someone whose not as tall and more curvy. And again, this is very much an evening dress. Although with the right enhancements it would make a fabulous wedding dress.

Becky: I guess this is where print, colour and detailing come into their own.

Camilla: Absolutely. I noticed quite a few high neck dresses and interestingly very few low-cut dresses exposing the décolletage. I think this speaks to where we are at the moment culturally. The prairie dress is quite safe and demure. Modernised and deconstructed for an evening dress is refreshing and exciting provided it’s done well. On the other hand best actress winner Olivia Coleman’s dress again was inspired by the Prairie style but was successful in a completely different way.

Becky: I loved it and it really made Olivia look absolutely gorgeous and very refined. Exactly what you need as a serious actor. 



This year florals made an impact on the red carpet, both in chiffon prints and as embellishments. Feminine and classic, this look reflects the current trend in day wear.

Oscars 2019 red carpet floral dresses

The night belonged to Best Actress winner Olivia Coleman, seen here in an elegant dress with silk sash and train adorned with flowers. Maya Rudolph embraced florals in a pink chiffon maxi dress.

Camilla: There were two approaches to florals this year. Less is more, as Olivia Colman approached it or more is more. I liked the variety this year and it was nice to see florals on the red carpet for a formal event.

Annie: Florals are no longer for day only. Floral prints remain a way that women can make a statement through printed silks that is feminine and classic. I like the choices in warm colours. 

Becky: I love wearing florals to formal evening events. For me, florals are to Spring as animal prints are to Winter. (Well, actually this year I’m still wearing animal prints for Spring!)


Camilla: I think we hit the high notes on this year’s Oscars. Shall we reconvene for The Met Ball ladies? This was fun.

Becky: Very definitely!👍

Annie: Count me in!  👍











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