A blue ribbon proved the most popular accessory at the 2017 Oscars, where fancy famous people paired designer threads and multithousand-dollar baubles with pins promoting the American Civil Liberties Union. Nominees Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ruth Negga, and Casey Affleck wore the protest pin, along with model Karlie Kloss—who happens to be dating Joshua Kushner, brother of one of the closest advisers to dear leader Donald Trump.
Ribbons aside, avoiding political statements at the awards show would have been close to impossible in a year that’s seen a movie about racism, scientific achievement, bathroom discrimination, and hating on Russia beat out all other Best Picture nominees at the box office. But certain things—things like Taraji P. Henson in devilishly low-cut midnight-blue velvet—defy the doom and gloom of the current political climate, reminding red-carpet viewers that as long as there is boob contouring and Henson serving with all she’s got, there can still be joy in this world.
Henson’s Hidden Figures co-stars, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe, brought two avian looks to the show—Spencer in silver Marchesa adorned with ostrich feathers and Monae in a head-turning Elie Saab get-up covered in beads, her breasts obscured by bird silhouettes. Her hips boosted like the queen of hearts, Monáe tied it all up with a belt and a headband crown of laurels.
A chain belt and a tight fade lent Scarlett Johansson’s floaty pink number a bit of a tough edge, keeping her style just this side of girly. (Ricky Camilleri accused Johansson of “rocking the alt-right cut,” and many Slate staffers disapprove, but as a participant in the dyke culture from which it was stolen, I applaud the look.) Leslie Mann went likewise billowy and bright in a brilliant pale chartreuse number with a full, tucked-under hem, like the most beautiful fitted sheet you’ve ever seen.
Full-on lace was a good look for Alicia Vikander, in flirty black ruffles, and Ava DuVernay, who arrived in a high-necked, long-sleeved, full-skirted gown made subtler with delicate details.
Lace turtlenecks showed up on Ginnifer Goodwin and Ruth Negga, too, in very similar vermilion dresses by Zuhair Murad and Valentino, respectively. Viola Davis got the color memo in stunning Armani Privé (and a sleek new hairdo).
Karlie Kloss pinned her blue ribbon to a white Stella McCartney column with a one-shoulder cape, topped by a wide choker made of diamond floral vines. Chrissy Teigen got her floor-length cape from Zuhair Murad, her gown covered in silver fireworks and tucked in with a jeweled belt.
Emma Roberts and Michelle Williams were twinsies in dresses that topped intricate ivory skirts with plunging black necklines. Roberts’ gown was vintage Armani Privé; Williams’ look makes for a schmancy step up from the ’90s goth white lace she rocked at the Golden Globes in January.
Lots of Oscars attendees did head-to-toe gold in the spirit of the award statue: Dakota Johnson wore satin high-necked Gucci and Cartier jewels she said she got “from a museum”—the dress could have been too stuffy or frou-frou on another actress, but Johnson’s understated, world-weary vibes made it work. Jessica Biel topped her KaufmanFranco dress with a Tiffany’s collar and a futuristic center-parted updo. In finger waves and rows of mesmerizing, twinkling fringe, Emma Stone made an obvious nod to the golden age of Hollywood venerated by La La Land. And Robin Roberts glowed in body-hugging sequins that pooled on the red carpet like molten lava.
Classic strapless gowns got gorgeous updates from Kirsten Dunst, in a corset top and pockets; Moana’s Auli’i Cravalho, whose dress made her a mermaid emerging from a scallop shell; and Moonlight’s Naomie Harris, in structured white sequins.
The internet’s current top crush, Mahershala Ali, who won Best Supporting Actor for his turn in Moonlight, showed up monochrome in black on black on black with a houndstooth pocket square. Riz Ahmed of The Night Of and The OA looked dashing in sapphire blue, a color more tuxes should be.
White and ivory jackets were sharp on lovably scruffy Dev Patel and Jharrel Jerome of Moonlight, who was smart to pair his with a black shirt underneath. David Oyelowo, in white jacquard from Dolce & Gabbana, can go home happy that he maintained his dedicated spot on the best-dressed men’s list.
Men have few avenues for flair in formalwear, which is why Pharrell Williams deserves a lifetime achievement award for his commitment to accessorizing. His outfit was doing a lot on Sunday night, with a brooch, necklaces, tails, and a cumberbund. Ryan Gosling gets an A for effort for his black-tipped shirt ruffles. But Sunny Pawar, the adorable and talented co-star of Lion, was the brightest star on the red carpet in his colorful kicks, reminding the adults on the scene that tuxedoes look better with comfortable shoes.