The Oscars afterparties are better than the ceremony itself, both fashionally and candid-photo-wise, because everyone gets to take off their stiff gowns and replace them with... slightly less stiff gowns.
The big one, as ever, was the Vanity Fair party, but this year’s took on a special significance: in the era of #MeToo, it was the first Oscars gala hosted by new Editor-in-Chief Radhika Jones (below, right), and perhaps I’m projecting but the guest list felt like it reflected the energy of her presence.
First of all, what a delight to see a relatively young (44) woman of color taking the place of Graydon Carter, who was starting to become a caricature of himself. Some of the first attendees to arrive seemed pointed, and certainly significant: Monica Lewinsky, who wrote a piece for Jones’s debut issue; Catt Sadler, the former E! host who left the network after discovering gross pay inequity; and Gretchen Carlson, the first woman to publicly accuse Roger Ailes of harassment. Whether this was an explicit message or not, surely Jones will tell us, but I’m going to interpret it as such nonetheless.
Beyond that specific sliver of political undertone, she hosted a large assortment of actors of color and queer actors and all of them just stunned all the way to the dang bank. First of all, queen age-defier and woman who deserves like 10 Oscars by now Angela Bassett donned my absolute dream suit, in minty sequins woven like lattice or mosaic; she will be taking your fashion meetings at her own leisure, darlings. Janelle Monáe is releasing a new album imminently and so is perhaps returning to her musician uniform, albeit in a more voluminous and colorful iteration. This is custom Christian Siriano, who’s quickly risen to become the best red carpet designer due to his inclusive sizing and ability to cut! the! fuck! out of a gown. He also designed Holland Taylor’s suit, deeply natty against Sarah Paulson’s sunray of a column dress.
In the sheer zone, Regina Hall’s leopard print golden shine is probably a lot easier to wear than it looks, so shout to her for combining sexy feline with probable (relative) comfort.
Gabrielle Union’s peach-and-silver number is some Princess of Monaco shit; Mindy Kaling and Patricia Clarkson both shine in their own takes on the blue sequin. I have to say this is not one of my favorite Tracee Ellis Ross looks, if only because it seems a tad conservative in comparison to the fashion queen’s normally adventurous spirit—but I also have to say that she’s still adventurous compared to 99 percent of everyone else, and I believe that the crystals are cupping her boobs, like a breastplate. Okurr!
Simple and elegant, two ways. You’ve got classic black on Shonda Rhimes and Amy Adams, who’s in Siriano and showing his draping skills, damn. And you’ve got Elizabeth Banks and Kathryn Hahn having a silver party, ready to shimmer and probably hit the dance floor.
Hamm is Hamm. There’s nothing more to say. Sofia Vergara’s gown is beautiful and reminds me of a beaded curtain in a really cool flapper’s boudoir; Joe Manganiello just reminds me of a full meal. Megan Mullally’s got what appears to be an eagle mid-flight on her neckline, which is hella funny! And it’s great to see Constance Wu out and about; I love her festive stripey number, and she is also inspiring me, against my will, to get bangs again.
Lena Waithe always looks very sharp, here in a sort of ‘90s Chanel power suit theme. Rashida Jones is living the dream in a very kind, flowing garden gown paired with a lightly mussed hairdo; she is not giving this evening any of her comfort and I applaud it. Olivia Wilde, with Jason Sudeikis, is fully ventilated. The Zadfather, known to other people as Donald Glover, is wearing a quilted velvet tuxedo jacket and no socks and will promptly put his feet up on the table and you will not be mad because he is your new Zadfather.
Among the black sheer trend folks, there were Lisa Bonet and Zöe Kravitz, two people who look identical and have impeccable style. And then there were the boob gowns, ranging from parched to Euro. Bleona Qereti is clearly the thirstiest person here, but it worked as there are like eight Daily Mail posts on her. I honestly wouldn’t be mad at all (get yours Bleona!) if it weren’t for the clear Rihanna rip-off situation—and also the fit is weird. Hannah Bronfman went for some ruffle stripes and I hate it! Jackie Cruz’s is my favorite of the three, not just because of the beading but because she just seems chic and advanced and unafraid of stupid American sex-negative norms.
Couples skate! Ciara and Russell Wilson know how to go for drama and look extremely French sophisticated, like they should be doing angular poses on a Paris balcony. Here is Emily Ratajowksi in a plush wine gown, with her husband of 20 minutes Sebastian Bear-McCloud, all better known by their street monikers Em Rata and Sebo. Halsey is wearing a shiny candy wrapper of a gown, along with G-Eazy pulling a minimalist formal look.
Does Ava DuVernay ever not look studious and fantastic? I think not. Charli XCX is wearing something more demure than we’re used to, but Kerry Washington and Jessica Williams have more than made up for it, in two looks that appear to pay homage to Shape of Water’s fish creature. We are all mermaids in Guillermo’s eyes, fam.
I’m not crazy about Halle Berry’s pattern, but I love that she’s out here like “I will wear a miniskirt forever,” bless. Joan Collins is dramatic and I truly hope she hung out with RuPaul, who, when I profiled him in 2012 and we discovered we had a mutual Wyoming connection (both his husband and I are from there), kept referring to a nearby Colorado city as “Fort Joan Collins.” A little anecdote for you. Salma Hayek switched out of her Gucci (psst... her husband runs the conglomerate) and put on a different one: a look by hip-hop stylist/legend Dapper Dan, who procured a collabo after Gucci’s Alessandro Michele “borrowed” an old look and then, after being called out on the internet, decided he should atone.
Lipstick red! This is Anne Wojcicki, in a nice tiered piece; I am including her here because she is the founder of 23andme and I figured you should know who is the keeper of your DNA ancestry. Grace Gummer’s lovely number matches her mother Meryl’s from earlier in the evening. The Haim sisters are taking chances and improving immensely on the Rodarte looks of yore.
Look at all this sparkle action?? Andra Day is one of my favorites style-wise, but this one just is above and beyond. She looks like an extremely expensive strawberry milkshake. Betty Gabriel changed her gown for yet ANOTHER deep v-neck that inspires me to work on those pec arm lifts you do while lying on your back, you know the ones. Jasmine Tookes’s gown is the sartorial manifestation of Fenty Beauty’s Trophy Wife highlighter; Mary J. Blige’s gown is like the paillettes are gold butterflies and she caught them in a net.
Naomi Campbell and her damn suits, always looking like a boss. Lupita Nyong’o changed into this cut-out gown and we are not worthy. Was Gucci a sponsor of this night or something? Here is Hari Nef, Gucci girl extraordinaire, wearing the Gucci caftan your davenport dreams of. Tiffany Haddish in chartreuse is like, bye girl, I got shit to do.