Created by Oscar Holland, CNN

This week marks two decades because Hollywood served up a person of its worst-received pink carpets of all time. On a night of major wins for “A Attractive Brain” and the very first “Lord of the Rings,” 2002’s Academy Awards were being — in accurate Y2K design — awash with spaghetti straps, seen midriffs and shapeless eveningwear.
At the time, previous Cosmopolitan editor Marcelle d’Argy Smith branded it a “night of vogue blunders,” prior to contacting out quite a few stars for their initiatives. Julia Roberts, in a black Armani gown, looked “monotonous” Whoopi Goldberg, who hosted the ceremony dressed like a glittering peacock, brought “a type of circus aspect to the proceedings” and Barbra Streisand was “swathed” in a velvet burgundy “wrap/tent/curtain.”

More damming testimonials ended up saved for the year’s ideal supporting actress, Jennifer Connelly, who opted for a dishwater-coloured tulle gown and not-pretty-matching scarf (a shade explained by Smith as “pale dung-coloured,” and by Scripps Howard news company as “phlegm-colored”). Somewhere else, Cameron Diaz divided views in a floral print costume, ’80s Oscar-nominee Sally Kirkland sported an sick-advised bejeweled bindi and Faith Hill took a painfully literal approach by teasing her overall performance of “Somewhere More than the Rainbow” with a strappy rainbow-coloured Versace gown.

Variously described as "pale dung-colored" and "phlegm-colored," Jennifer Connelly's gown was one of the night's many flops.

Variously explained as “pale dung-coloured” and “phlegm-coloured,” Jennifer Connelly’s robe was a single of the night’s lots of flops. Credit score: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

The night time will, nevertheless, often be remembered for one of the most maligned outfits in Oscars background: Gwyneth Paltrow’s infamous “goth” costume (pictured top rated). The formless Alexander McQueen creation showcased a scrunched-up taffeta skirt and sheer bodice that still left little to the imagination. The actress’ significant eye makeup and milkmaid braid aided protected the outfit’s location on “worst-dressed” lists for several years to occur.

In a characteristically slicing evaluation of the evening’s appears to be like, very long-time Vogue editor Suzy Menkes, then of the Worldwide Herald Tribune, wrote that the evidently bra-considerably less Paltrow “seemed like she was off to see her private trainer.” (She also explained Connolly as staying “drear as a drowned nymph”). The Guardian’s fashion author Jess Cartner-Morley in the meantime wrote that the star “came a cropper” in “gap-yr plaits, goth eye make-up and clunky jewellery.”

There was, arguably, worse to arrive. At the Self-importance Honest afterparty, “Meet up with Joe Black” star Claire Forlani wore what can only be explained as a sequined breastplate held up by perilously skinny string ties Selma Blair arrived in a hardly-there fringe dress that seemed a lot more like a shabby tablecloth and Heather Mills opted for a bizarre midriff-bearing two-piece. Actress and creator Suzanne Somers’ dress may well simply have doubled up as low-priced curtains, and Television host Daisy Fuentes confirmed up in jeans and a blouse, as if she experienced forgotten it was one particular of Hollywood’s most special parties.

The afterparty saw even more classic Y2K style, like Claire Forlani's open-backed crop top.

The afterparty noticed even extra vintage Y2K type, like Claire Forlani’s open up-backed crop leading. Credit score: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Pictures

Most dull ‘of all time’

What truly irked style critics was not the well-intentioned flops, but the collective lack of ambition. Just a 12 months right after Björk’s unforgettably eccentric swan dress, 2002’s red carpet felt like a meek, minimal-risk affair.
This may perhaps have been for good rationale. Held just six months following the 9/11 attacks, the party was engulfed by hyped-up safety and an understandably restrained atmosphere. Armed law enforcement stood guard, stars ended up despatched by way of steel detectors and vogue-watchers who were blessed more than enough to safe a seat on the purple carpet experienced to go through new history checks, the LA Occasions described. In retaining with the nationwide mood, numerous stars arrived in respectfully minimal-crucial gowns, with Reese Witherspoon, Glenn Near, Helen Hunt and Renée Zellweger amid the many famous people to put on black that night.

This was no justification for Menkes, having said that. Contacting attendees’ efforts “the most tedious Oscar outfits of all time,” the critic singled out Naomi Watts’ unadventurous corseted dress from a “sea of black,” crafting that “even Gucci, generally a dead cert for pretty dresses” experienced made the star search “sedate.”

Naomi Watts was one of several stars opting for low-risk black gowns.

Naomi Watts was 1 of a number of stars opting for low-hazard black robes. Credit history: KMazur/WireImage/Getty Photographs

Samantha Critchell, then a fashion author for the Connected Push, was more diplomatic, describing the evening’s pink carpet as one particular of “conservative” style on which “quite a few stars performed it secure.” Wanting again, 20 yrs on, she attributed their style possibilities not to 9/11, but to trepidation surrounding the surging desire in crimson carpet model.
“In the early 2000s, trend became a microcosm for the rest of the world,” she told CNN in a telephone interview. “I started covering the crimson carpet with Jennifer Lopez’s how-did-it-keep-closed Versace robe (at the 2000 Grammys) — we didn’t do ‘night-of’ protection of the style in the ‘hard-news’ media until that moment.

“There turned a realization that individuals dresses were going to determine you. And I believe it experienced additional to do with the rise of fashion as a pop-culture power — and a serious-time drive — and noticing that folks had been sat at dwelling judging these outfits.

“There was no E! and no pre-show until eventually then, and I think that decisions have been likely safer since of not being aware of how to navigate that.”

As for the riskier appears, Critchell theorized that quite a few superstars have been “participating in versus style” by presenting a thing unpredicted or diverse from former outings. Nicole Kidman’s frilly pink Chanel gown contrasted with the elegant chartreuse Dior dress she famously wore to 1997’s ceremony, while Jennifer Lopez’s common robe and bouffant hairstyle was juxtaposed towards the raunchier seems she’d become recognized for.

Sally Kirkland sports a bejewled bindi as part of her gold-and-silver look.

Sally Kirkland athletics a bejewled bindi as part of her gold-and-silver glimpse. Credit: David Lefranc/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Visuals

Even Paltrow’s outfit can be noticed as an try to stay clear of remaining pigeonholed, Critchell explained. “She had been the princess a couple of decades right before (in 1999) in that pink Ralph Lauren dress, and I believe she was actively playing versus that,” she included.

“Celebs did not have a prospect to show their other sides in the way they do now. You already know them, you what their fashion is, you know their impression on almost everything. But it was not uncommon in 2002, or any of those people other (pre-social media) decades, for somebody to enjoy towards what they did prior to, since they failed to want to be stereotyped.”

Rays of hope

There were a handful of hits amid the flops that night time. Kate Winslet’s 1-shouldered Ben de Lisi dress was extensively praised, and the evening’s males fared much better amongst critics, with Will Smith praised for his Ozwald Boateng fit and gold tie.
One of the night's few winners: Halle Berry in Elie Saab.

One of the night’s couple winners: Halle Berry in Elie Saab. Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Visuals

There was truly only a single winner, nevertheless — on each the pink carpet and the awards stage. On her way to getting the initial Black female to claim the Academy Award for ideal actress, Halle Berry shocked in gown that transformed the fortunes of its designer, Elie Saab. Like Paltrow’s outfit, it consisted of sheer major and taffeta skirt, though Berry oozed glamour in crimson and champagne, with strategically put floral detailing finishing the glance.

“I assume Halle Berry’s outfit has stood the take a look at of time,” Critchell explained. “It’s not a costume somebody would have on today, but she was the belle of the ball. She was predicted to earn and, as fashion writers, we were being all waiting around for her switch. It fulfilled the second it was memorable, and it was suitable for a finest actress.”

However, whilst the outfit is now deemed among the Oscars’ best-at any time appears to be like, it wasn’t a hit with anyone on the evening. The Guardian’s Cartner-Morley wrote that Berry’s outfit, comprehensive with its “gaudy embroidered web bodice,” experienced presented “loads to cringe about.”

Relevant online video: A temporary background of the crimson carpet

Her contrarian get serves as a reminder that fantastic crimson carpet fashion is in the eye of the beholder — and consequently the dilemma of whether or not 2002 was the Oscars’ worst yr relies upon, as ever, on who you inquire. In truth, offered the present interest in all things Y2K — a revival that has heralded the return of small-rise denims, crop tops and butterfly clips — the electricity of hindsight (and the thoughts of Gen-Z style-watchers) may possibly be kinder to 2002’s outing than one could possibly be expecting.

“I never assume it was the worst-dressed,” Critchell stated. “I will not know if there would at any time be a instant you could outline as that. But it was a distinct time.”