There's an old, really tasteless joke that goes: What's black and white and red all over? A nun falling down the stairs. I don't know who told me that "joke" (is it even funny?) or why I remember it, but it's what sprang to mind during Sunday night's Oscars. Not because there were any clumsy clergy people messing about, but because the red carpet was awash in boring gowns in those same colours.
Black: the safest of them all; revered for its slimming properties, and ability to mask wrinkled fabric, dimpled bottoms and spilled skim chai moca lattes with low-cal chocolate shavings; boring.
White: the riskiest of all colours; reviled for its knack for highlighting the area of the thighs where 4am pizza binges go to die, and its ability to attract stains without being anywhere near dirt or a dirt-wielding tool (I swear, I once got a white dress dirty just by standing in the middle of an empty room and looking to the left); evil.
Red: friend to both blonde and brunette; the go-to colour for middle aged ladies looking to "mix it up"; Valentino's favourite, therefore garnering insta-chic appeal; attributed to Santa Claus during the period of mid-October through early January, and really, who wants to be linked to a fat man with a sweet tooth?; predictable.
I'm not saying there weren't ladies who looked smashing last night — Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Jennifer Aniston (in time, you will learn of my love for her), Amy Adams, Evan Rachel Wood, Robin Wright Penn, Taraji P. Henson, John Legend's smokin' hot date — looked beautiful, resplendent even. I will even tip my hat to the ones I don't particularly care for: Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway (though I feel like this young vixen is consistently shopping in the seniors aisle. Wear something flirty and youthful, already!). But I long for the days of swan dresses, backwards tuxedos and sparkly showgirl getups with headdresses. Why is everyone so afraid of landing on a worst dressed list these days? Don't we all buy those trashy tabloids specifically for the "fashion police" and "what were they thinking" sections? Isn't it more enjoyable to bask in the glory of red carpet premiere schaudenfreude? Weren't Gwyneth's pit stains way more interesting than her Pepto pink dress? Didn't we all want Drizella to get the Prince really wasted and have her way with him on Cinderella's bed? I think I've said too much...
Don't get me wrong, there were definitely some stinkers out there. Beyonce, Sarah Jessica Parker, Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Hudgens pop to mind. But theirs were not risks, they were just examples of bad stylists and poor judgement. And in Miley's case a reluctance to exorcize the Disney demons. I long for the Bob Mackies of yesteryear. I'm talking about over-the-top, out-of-the-park, off-her-rocker, forgot-her-meds, just-off-a-bender train wrecks. I want Cher! Bring back Bjork! Where's Cybill? And if one of them could top off her look with Aretha's Inauguration Day hat, that would be really cool too.