LOS ANGELES – There was no shortage of glamour and color on the shrunken red carpet at Sunday's Academy Awards, despite the war in Iraq.
Renee Zellweger pulled out all the stops in a tight embroidered chiffon red gown with delicate spaghetti straps by Carolina Herrera. Julianne Moore paired her bright green strapless gown with its line of ruffles down the front with dramatic dangling earrings.
Because Oscar organizers eliminated the traditional red-carpet arrivals and ushered celebrities past reporters straight into the Kodak Theatre, there had been speculation that the usual fashion show would be toned down. It seemed few, though, shunned glitzy styles.
Zellweger in particular did not disappoint the cameras. Walking to the theater slowly, she regaled the small pool of photographers allowed near the entrance to the theatre in her barebacked dress. She wore no necklace or earrings -- just a 16-carat red ruby ring on her left hand.
Black certainly had its place on the red carpet. Nicole Kidman arrived in an elegant, understated, vintage asymmetrical black dress with a handkerchief hem -- and she didn't stop to flirt with the cameras. Salma Hayek's outfit, also by Herrera, featured a black embroidered lace, V-neck top with an attached white silk long skirt.
Catherine Zeta-Jones also had a two-tone look: a Versace gown in dark brown and black chiffon with amber and bronze embroidery.
Even Meryl Streep, who's known for subdued styles, selected a glamorous black dress with silver sleeves and an elaborate, early 20th-century Fred Leighton necklace with emeralds and diamonds in a leaf pattern.
Diane Lane wore a sparkling bronze, body-hugging strapless dress with a skirt covered in feathers that she accessorized with pink coral and diamond drop earrings, also from Leighton.
"Well I'm glad they've cut back on all the glitz," host Steve Martin said sarcastically as the show opened. Then he joked about the lack of a red carpet, "That'll send 'em a message."
Martin wore a one-button tuxedo with peak lapels by Giorgio Armani and a black bow-tie. The traditional look also was favored by Jack Nicholson, Michael Douglas, Richard Gere, Ed Norton and John C. Reilly.
Small pins inspired by Picasso's "Dove of Peace" were visible on the lapels of Adrien Brody's midnight blue suit by Ermenegildo Zegna and director Pedro Almodovar's Armani one-button black tuxedo. Kathy Bates put her peace pin on the satin opera coat she wore over an Eric Gaskins cranberry silk gown.
Indeed, there were as many pins as the usual diamond-studded chokers and dangly drop earrings, which just weeks ago would have come as a surprise considering this is the Oscars' 75th "diamond" anniversary.
Halle Berry, who wore a burgundy floral dress by Elie Saab when she won the best-actress award last year, again chose an outfit by the Lebanese designer. This time it was a beige one-shoulder beaded tulle gown.
"I think we saw a shift toward softer looks with touches of tulle. Rather than getting embellishment from stones and overdesigned gowns, we saw a lot of nuance -- draping and one-shoulder accents," said Tom Julian, a trend analyst and the official fashion commentator for Oscar.com. "The rope-twisted shoulder was probably the newest thing we saw on a lot of actresses. It was very visual."
Gold lace covered Kate Hudson's champagne chiffon Versace gown, and Hilary Swank's pink ballerina-style dress was a short skirt with a long tulle overlay and a Bulgari diamond brooch at her waist.
Meanwhile, crystals added sparkle to Jennifer Garner's pale blue, spaghetti-strap gown by Versace, and Marcia Gay Harden wore a draped one-shoulder green gown.
Heather Graham was in a black gown with a sheer inset, and Geena Davis' black Escada gown featured a deep V-neck and layers of ruffles.