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February 14 2011

Baftas 2011: style lessons we learned

Who shone and who didn't quite get the look right on Baftas night? Simon Chilvers gives his fashion verdict

See pictures from the night here

It helps to be best friends with a designer

If the ceremony ever got boring, which it did, then game of the night was surely what are Julianne Moore and Tom Ford gossiping about? Naturally, Moore was wearing a Ford – she was in his catwalk show and his film A Single Man, after all – and it was the night's fashion triumph. Midnight velvet could sound a bit stately-home curtains, but with Moore's red hair, bright lips and restrained jewels, this was the epitome of class.

Men in bow ties do look dapper. And modern


Tom Ford is on a winning bow-tie streak. The designer was naturally dashing in a large one while he also dressed both best actor winner Colin Firth and Nicholas Hoult in smaller versions.

If you're young, wear something fashion-forward


Star of True Grit, Hailee Steinfeld, may have looked older than her 14 years but Miu Miu was an inspired choice. Cool yet demure with the on-trend midi-length differentiating her from the floor-length brigade.

It's all about the right hair


Emma Watson's Valentino couture dress was gorgeous but now that the edginess has grown out of her pixie crop, the combination was a trifle ageing. Meanwhile, Helena Bonham Carter went signature bird-nest bun with a hint of dreadlocks and heaven knows what happened to Tracey Emin – her hair was so big it outshone her gold Vivienne Westwood. Imagine.

Colour can trump bland


A red carpet can easily turn into a sea of beige (see last year) so it was a relief to see stars embracing this spring's colour trend. Sam Taylor-Wood's tomato Celine dress and Emma Stone's one-shouldered Lanvin gown with split-pleat skirt were both hits. Note: both had belts to break up the colour. Meanwhile, Gemma Arterton proved you can do safe black but with a twist of bright: her simple yet striking velvet Yves Saint Laurent number was razzed up with an electric blue bow belt.

Surprises can be good


Wild trademark hair aside, Helena Bonham Carter decided to take the barking-bag-lady look down a notch from the mismatched-shoe debacle of the Golden Globes. Strangely demure, in a restrained black Vivienne Westwood.

Eveningwear: really the time to experiment with python?


In theory the idea of a snake-print Lanvin dress sounds quite fabulous but unfortunately, as JK Rowling found out, it's a pattern that can overwhelm.

Ditch one-shouldered for sleeves


There was talk at the Golden Globes about a resurgence of dresses with sleeves but this didn't really happen on Sunday night. It's a shame really, because, as proved by Livia Firth's gorgeous dress by ethical designer Nina Skarra, sleeves can add a real sense of elegance.

You can have too much of a gold thing


A jewel-encrusted Givenchy couture dress should be a total knockout. Unfortunately, the translation on to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo actress Noomi Rapace didn't add up. For gold tips though, look to Christopher Lee's brilliant wife Birgit who chose to razz up her plain black dress with one massive neck piece and a pair of wondrous specs.

Women can wear trousers at night


Yes, yes, yes, we know Tilda Swinton is a red-carpet wild card – she's super androgynous and has severe hair – but in a fashion season of trousers, her choice of wide-leg trousersuit and tux blazer by Colombian designer Haider Ackermann was smart. Heroic.


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


February 13 2011

The big picture: Julie Christie and Dirk Bogarde film Darling, 1964

As the Baftas approach, we look back to a past winner. British comedy-drama Darling earned its stars best actor and best actress awards in 1966

Photographs are time capsules, histories that compress information about more than the single moment when the shutter blinked. This one ranges across two centuries before settling on one charmed decade.

The water fountain, propped on a pedestal and topped by an officious obelisk, is a relic of Victorian philanthropy, catering to the thirst of the itinerant poor. The passing matrons could be Edwardian, wearing a genteel uniform – funereal hat and oppressively long coat, gloved hands and festoons of pearls round the neck – for a promenade to the shops. The young couple holding hands belong in a later, more relaxed era. She, idly dangling her bag from her hand rather than holding it protectively in front of her, wears a dress that could be by Mary Quant with a collar that makes her look like a sunflower. The old women are dressed for wintry old age; this sprightly pair – both with sunglasses, he with no tie and carrying a jacket he doesn't need – bask in the springtime of the body.

Time, like this north London thoroughfare, is a one-way street. The sun is behind all these people, and the shadows cast by bodies, slanting trees and the upright lamp-post are long. But the figure sitting down on the pavement, with a suppliant crouching beside her, is exempt from the flow; she has parked herself in a deckchair as if she were at the beach, not in a harried place of transit. For her it will always be 1965, and she will always – thanks to John Schlesinger's film – be beautiful.

The character played by Julie Christie in Darling is a go-getting model and sexual careerist; Dirk Bogarde is the television journalist who tracks her social rise. Almost 50 years later, the fable about vacuous, ephemeral celebrity remains tartly relevant. The photograph, however, is not satirical. Despite the Op Art glasses and the winklepicker shoes, Christie transcends fashion. Wearing a schoolboy's cap at a rakish angle while exhibiting – if you look very closely – a stocking top that marks the border beyond which the eye can't trespass, she also bestraddles the sexes. She bites her lip to signal a delicious, teasing indecision; Bogarde's bristling quiff alerts us to the urgency of his whispered appeal.

The overdressed frumps still plod through the dowdy, monochrome 1950s. But for me, Christie's shock of hair is as golden as the afternoon sun, her blazer dazzlingly candy-striped: in a black and white world, she radiates colour. Obelisks represent solar rays that were symbolically petrified, and the one at the kerb should be pointing its chiselled tip at her.


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


January 30 2011

Jason Solomons's Trailer Trash

Oscar-nominated Brits turn up the pressure on Bafta, Norman Foster makes an embarrassing noise… and Trash loses a grand but gains an opportunity

Put Bafta in the doc

The Facebook campaign to persuade Bafta to create a category for documentaries grew last week when three British film-makers were nominated for documentary Oscars. Lucy Walker's Waste Land, about "catadores" living in Rio de Janeiro's huge landfill site; Bansky's Exit Through the Gift Shop; and Restrepo, co-directed by British photographer Tim Hetherington among American troops in Afghanistan, revealed the strength in fact-based film -making among our native directors.

"It's madness that three Brits will be fighting it out at the Oscars but not at Bafta," Lucy Walker told me from the Sundance film festival, where she's currently on the World Documentary jury. "It's amazing to be back at Sundance, where Waste Land began its own journey exactly a year ago," she said. "British talent obviously excels in the documentary format, and everyone here from around the world seems to be with us on this one — why can the American academy recognise us but not our own British one?"

Lucy's thrilling and uplifting film, which traces the characters of the favela as they become part of Brazilian artist Vic Muniz's photographic project, does, however, receive a wide theatrical release in the UK next month.

Squeak as you find

I had the pleasure of interviewing architect Sir Norman Foster last week to discuss the documentary about his life and work, How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr Foster? We were granted an audience with him on the 38th floor of the Gherkin, where I found him in immaculate blue corduroy suit and navy polo neck, framed against the building's huge glass panes, with London stretched out beneath him. The interview was going well until my producer interrupted to ask Sir Norman to stop swivelling in his chair, which was issuing a loud squeak. "I'm terribly sorry," said Sir Norman, looking somewhat vexed that his perfectly constructed world wasn't functioning properly. He added hastily: "I didn't design the chair."

And the winner is… not me!

Trash predicted all 10 Best Picture nominees last week and was rather proud… until people asked if I'd put my money where my mouth was with a bet? No, but I haven't been able to sleep since, so I rang William Hill, which offers odds on all Oscar matters, to see what I would have won. Their spokesman, Rupert Adams, told me: "We didn't reckon on Toy Story 3 getting in there, so if you'd have come to us with that 10 beforehand, we'd have given you 100-1. Yes, a tenner would have got you a grand." Cripes. They're now offering me a special accumulator for the night itself, for charity. I've got a week to predict winners of the eight categories for which they take bets. The Oscars just got that bit more exciting.


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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