The Oscars: A Night of Shilling and Shopping

Lady Gaga’s gloves deliver a message of hope.

Lady Gaga attends the 87th Annual Academy Awards.
Lady Gaga.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

We all know the deal: Oscar-nominated actresses are deluged with loaner frocks and jewels, plus a jumbo check to compensate them for their brand ambassadorizing. (They receive no monies toward the cost of deodorizing, however. They actually have to cough up for cost of their own Tickle and Tussy. Poor luvs.)

This system of grafting and shilling is hardly big news. What is news, however, is that—stop the presses!—the system actually works. Citing a study by “celebrity branding expert Jeetendr Sehdev,” Women’s Wear Daily announced on Friday that Oscar winners “boost a brand’s annual sales by 1.5 percent.” According to Sehdev’s research, Cate Blanchette’s Blue Jasmin win cha-ching’d $37 million smackers for the house of Armani, and the incredibly lovely Lupita Nyong’o’s 12 Years a Slave triumph delivered $63 million dollars into the Lancôme coffers.

Setting aside any rational questions about how on earth one might separate out the billions of variables and co-factors involved in this kind of marketing research and boldly leap to such numerically specific conclusions, I elected to embark on a similar study of my own. As I tuned in to watch tonight’s awards show, I decided to monitor my own consumer impulses. Which dolled-up A-listers—nominees, winners, hangers-on, or whatever—were triggering my shopping demons, and for what? The answers may surprise you.

Actress Dakota Johnson and actress Margot Robbie.
Dakota Johnson and Margot Robbie.

Photos by Jason Merritt/Getty Images and Kevin Mazur/WireImage

This year’s Oscar red carpet was drenched with a louche ’70s vibe. As soon as I clocked Margo Robbie and Dakota Johnson—both mincing along in decadent Saint Laurent frocks as if they were entering Studio 54—my consumer impulses went into overdrive. I felt a strong urge to send out for a few jars of quaaludes and crate of poppers. Then I remembered the old ticker and thought better of it. Did I feel the inclination to purchase an actual item from Maison Saint Laurent? Coincidentally, I just shot my shekels on a pair of age-inappropriate silver Saint Laurent glamrock sneakers last week. I think that’s quite enough for now.

David Burtka and Neil Patrick Harris, Felicity Jones and Naomi Watts.
David Burtka and Neil Patrick Harris, Felicity Jones and Naomi Watt.

Photos by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

An impractical pale gray hue was inexplicably ubiquitous. How reckless these Hollywood people are? If Naomi Watts (Armani), Neil Patrick Harris (Bruno Cuccinelli), or Felicity Jones (Alexander McQueen) think for one minute that they can deep-fry chicken wings in those outfits without spattering, they are severely mistaken. #Stainremover.

Eddie Redmayne and Ansel Elgort.
Eddie Redmayne and Ansel Elgort.

Photos by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Foofy hair was everywhere, and that was just the men. Eddie Redmayne and Ansel Elgort were both rocking a Mr. D’Arcy Regency swirl. A Mr. D’Arcy Regency swirl is not right for everyone. I am very glad Clint Eastwood did not have one. Memo to me: Stock up on a few salon-size cans of Elnett Superhold hairspray and give the swirl a whirl.

Julianne Moore and Marion Cotillard attend the 87th Annual Academy Awards.
Julianne Moore and Marion Cotillard.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The craft of fashion—le couture de Paree—was heartwarmingly present. Lady Gaga, Julianne Moore, and Marion Cotillard served full-throttle couture magic in Alaia, Chanel, Christian Dior respectively. Les petits mains (translation: the little hands, the name given to French couture artisans) must surely have bloodied their fingertips in order to finish these gowns on time. (Reminder: We’ve run out of Band-Aids chez nous.) And speaking of hands: Lady Gaga’s magnificent giant red Alaia washing-up gloves were a timely and caring nudge to dish-doers everywhere to protect their hands by stocking up on Marigolds. Thanks, Gaga.

David Oyelowo attends the 87th Annual Academy Awards.
David Oyelowo attends the 87th Annual Academy Awards on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage

The most powerful influencer of the night? Was it the lovely Reese Witherspoon in Tom Ford, or the lissome Sienna Miller in Oscar de la Renta? No. The most got-to-run-out-and-get-me-one-of-those look was worn, in my un-humble opinion, by a brilliant, touching, handsome male thespian. The incredible Mr. David Oyelowo, star of Selma, in his divine red Dolce and Gabbanna tux made all the other geezers look like cater-waiters. 

Mazel tov, y’all! 

Read all Slate’s coverage of the 2015 Oscars.