Simply Coco – How One Woman Changed the Fashion Industry Forever

Deep in the countryside of Saumur France, August 19, 1883 bore the birth of a baby girl given the name Gabrielle Chasnel. As the illegitimate daughter of a forsaken romance between an aspiring seamstress and a Nomad, Gabrielle would grow up ashamed of her family and later lead her life in denial of her past. Still against all odds, she would become a legend; one who would eventually be known to the world as Coco Chanel. As an integrative fashion designer, Coco single-handedly launched what is now considered to be one of the world’s most recognized brand names: Chanel. Named after her adopted surname, the company which first began in a small French village nearly 100 years ago is now worth an estimated 11.8 billion dollars. How exactly did Coco Chanel accomplish such a rags-to-riches fairytale? Her journey was not a simple one.

Gabrielle Chasnel began her life as the second child of Jeanne Devolle and Albert Chanel, a young and unwed couple searching for independence and identity. When Gabrielle was born, her birth was recorded by two illiterate employees of a local hospice. The workers were not sure of how to spell ‘Chanel’, prompting them to improvise and spell her surname incorrectly as ‘Chasnel’ on the birth certificate. Later as an adult, Gabrielle would refuse to correct this mistake in fear that the truth of her illegitimacy would become public. The Chanel family struggled financially during Gabrielle’s childhood, with Albert and Jeanne often sacrificing their own food to feed their children. By the time Gabrielle was 12 years old, she had 4 siblings in total. Despite having relatively close relationships with her family now, Gabrielle would later insist that she was an only child, and pay her real siblings off as a way to prevent public humiliation from the truth about her real family. Her father left early in 1895 that year to expedite across Europe, leaving Jeanne alone to support their 5 children. The combination of loneliness and stress led Jeanne to face a series of medical problems. Her health matters only became worse over the years, and she eventually died from tuberculosis in the winter of 1895.

Gabrielle’s father returned for a short while, but soon left again in hopes of saving up money to raise his family. Because of his absence, the Chanel children were divided to stay with extended family and orphanages. Gabrielle, along with her older sister were sent to an orphanage. Since they had no money, the girls stayed at the home for free. Still, this was in no way considered a privilege. The nuns or “aunts” as they were referred to at the Catholic-based home were extremely cruel to the Chanel sisters in particular, and often singled them out for being ‘charity cases’. To ‘earn her keep’, Gabrielle was forced to became a seamstress. Though assured that her stay there was temporary, Albert never returned to his family.

Gabrielle remained in the orphanage, visiting her other relatives only during school vacations. On the occasions that she did visit, various female family members adamantly taught Gabrielle techniques to improve her sewing. At the age of 18, Gabrielle left the orphanage and began working for a local tailor. Despite talking freely about her experience at the orphanage, and explaining in meticulous detail the abuse in which she encountered from the ‘aunts’, Gabrielle later insisted that she was more than thankful for her upbringing. She once told a French newspaper that “I’ve been ungrateful toward the odious aunts. I owe them everything. A child in revolt becomes a person with armor and strength. It’s the kisses, caresses, teachers, and vitamins that… turn [children] into unhappy or sickly adults. It’s the mean and nasty aunts who create winners… under nastiness looms strength, and a passion for grandeur.” Still, Coco frequently contradicted herself, blaming the aunts for her all her inferiorities. This irregularity from her interviews led many to question her honesty in later years.

The first decade of the 1900’s not only brought the fresh start of a new century, but also many personal changes for Gabrielle. After adopting the name Coco during a brief stint as a café singer from 1905-1908, Gabrielle met and began an affair with a man she was introduced to while working at a tailoring shop: a French playboy and millionaire, Etienne Balsan. Gabrielle, hereafter referred to as simply ‘Coco’, quickly turned into a member of an accustomed high-class society. Life became a materialistic game in which Coco thrived to have more riches than anyone else. Balsan endowed Coco with splendors of the rich life, including diamonds, dresses, and pearls. During her time spent living with Balsan, Coco took on the hobby of designing hats for herself. Soon, this frivolous pastime became a much more profound talent and interest of the budding designer. In 1907, Coco opened up her first shop which offered a range of chic raincoats and jackets for a generous cost. Coco later confessed that the shop was in fact Balsan’s lavish Paris apartment, and that she had taken it over after leaving him the prior year. Though the fashionable boutique was located in the center of thriving Paris, France, the store was not as prosperous as Coco had hoped. She was requested to surrender the property in early 1908. Still, the lack of success from her shop failed to disappoint or discourage Coco; it only made her more determined.

On a chance occasion prior to World War I, Coco reconnected with Etienne Balsan’s former best friend, Arthur “Boy” Capel, a wealthy English polo player who Coco later referred to “the only love” of her life. The two soon began a madly passionate relationship that lasted from 1909 until 1918, though Capel was never completely faithful to Coco. Still, Arthur had a lasting impression on the styles of Coco, and his abundance of money helped her to gather enough resources to open another shop. With his support, Coco eventually gained access to a desirable property and financial assistance to open her second millinery shop in Brittany, France.

This time Coco experienced much more success than she did with her previous shop. Impressive clientele at Chanel’s shops, including famed American diplomats and renowned French actresses helped to build her notable reputation. In the middle of 1913, Coco opened her third and largest boutique in Deauville, featuring original women’s sportswear. This was a huge change from the common corsets that most women opted to wear to impress their husbands. A preferred location helped this shop become more profitable than the others; most women in Deauville during the World War I era were coming to realize that women should dress for themselves instead of their men. The wardrobe in which Chanel offered seemed captivating and liberating to women of this time.

Nonetheless, Capel’s influence played a huge role in deciding what fashions Coco would choose to style and sell. For example, the design of Arthur’s favorite blazers inspired Coco to incorporate a squared, masculine touch on classic suit designs. These styles still remain a staple part of the Chanel wardrobe. Coco and Arthur’s affair lasted for many years. Though Capel married Diana Wyndham, an honorable English aristocrat in late 1918, he still remained close to Coco. Later in her life, Chanel listed Capel’s fatal car accident in late 1919 the “single most devastating event” in her life. Many believe that the tragic loss of her great love was the sole reason why Chanel never married.

In the year preceding Capel’s death, world ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev introduced a distraught Coco to famed composer Igor Stravinsky. Aside from consoling Coco’s broken heart, Sergei became a close friend and supposed companion. Chanel offered Diaghilev and his family to reside with her in her French estate. During the time in which this temporary abide took place is when it was rumored that the two had an affair. Two years after her so called ‘illicit affair’ with Diaghilev ended, Coco introduced a new product: a perfume, called Chanel No. 5. The new fragrance quickly became, and remains one of the most lucrative products of the Chanel empire. A man named Pierre Wertheimer was announced Coco’s partner in the perfume portion of the business in 1924. It was also speculated that Wertheimer may have been yet another one of the many lovers Coco had in her lifetime. Still, Wertheimer remained a close confidant and his family continues to control Chanel’s perfume company today.

In 1923, Coco told Harper’s Bazaar magazine that “simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance”. Chanel applied this statement to each and every feature of her company. The clothing she designed was always ensured to be simple, comfortable, and revealing. One of Coco’s greatest talents was the art of upgrading fabrics that were considered ‘poor’, such as jersey. Coco was also extremely influential in helping design the iconic 1920’s flapper: young women who strutted around with sleek hair and flat chests, publicly applying their makeup and smoking with long cigarette holders.

In 1925, a woman named Vera Bate Lombardi became Chanel’s official public relations liaison to several European royal families. Lombardi was reported to have had the highest correlations to build the House of Chanel. Interestingly enough, it was Lombardi’s personality whom Coco established her English Look based upon. Lombardi introduced Coco to her aristocratic family members, including her uncle, the Duke of Westminster and her cousin, the Duke of Windsor. Her close relations with many other royals only assisted in Chanel’s creative rule of the fashion world.

Also in 1925, Coco introduced her long-anticipated signature cardigan jacket. The iconic Chanel jackets have several distinguishing designs, and are constructed differently than the traditional tailored jacket. For example, Chanel’s original pieces contain silk lining quilted directly to the fabric, opposed to the usual inner structure of pad stitching. Additionally, Chanel jackets all feature machine sewn and hand-stitched fabric, providing them with more durability. The distinctive Chanel three-piece sleeve is also constructed similarly before being hand sewn to the jacket’s body. The arrays of heavy trims, metal buttons, and curbed chains sewn to the hem have a functional purpose as well. All of these factors together grant the finished product with a tremendously comfortable garment. Most of Chanel’s inventive fashions, including her signature jacket have not changed much since their original debut. This can prove that Chanel’s integrative styles were the product of a brilliant woman beyond her time.

The year 1926 brought the birth of what is now considered to be ‘the’ staple item in every woman’s closet: the signature little black dress. Now commonly referred to as simply a “LBD”, the little black dress was an instant success for Chanel, prompting American Vogue to call it the “Ford”; just as Henry Ford’s Model-T car, the LBD was an immediate hit and widely available. Chanel’s first creation of the little black dress was a slash-necked, short silk dress with diagonal pin-tucks serving decoration. Though many may perceive the LBD as too plain, Coco strongly believed that fashion should be just as functional as it was chic. Ideally simple, her interpretation of the LBD was designed to conceal stains and to fit every woman. The little black dress also is extremely versatile and can be dressed up or down to fit different people’s needs perfectly. Some believe that Coco’s early years spent at the convent orphanage with nuns offered Coco an intuitive affinity for the “uniform” worn by the women who had raised her in her time of need. Regardless, Chanel’s legendary LBD has remained the epitome of simple elegance for over 80 years.

In 1939 at the start of World War II, Coco closed all of her shops. She believed that in the middle of the entire world’s chaos, fashion was not a top priority. Coco began residing in what would become a more than 30 year stay at the Hotel Ritz Paris. During the Nazi occupation of Paris, she was widely criticized for engaging in a steamy affair with Hans Gunther von Dincklage, a German officer and Nazi spy who secretly arranged for Coco to remain in the hotel. During this same time period, Coco maintained two other residences, both of which were also located in France.

In fall of 1943, Coco sought to end 4 years of professional partition with Vera Bate Lombardi who was staying in Rome. Though Lombardi was unaware of it then, Coco’s true intention was to contact Lombardi’s relative, Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill was a member of the Walter Schellenberg Nazi plan “Operation Modellhut”. Chanel extended an offer for Lombardi to resume her work for Paris’ House of Chanel. Lombardi was overwhelmed until she discovered the truth behind Coco’s request. Vera adamantly repudiated Coco’s request, citing the fashion designer’s guise as “cut-throat”. Vera was later captured as an English spy and was locked in a Roman prison by the Gestapo. Chanel was also briefly arrested for war related crimes, shortly after Lombardi’s detainment. However, Coco’s close ties with the British Royal family ultimately prevented her from being taken to trial.

Two years after her close encounter with prison, the Nazi Empire crumbled and France was free once more. Still, the French government warned of harsh punishments to French citizens who may have partnered with the Nazis. Coco’s previous ties with Hans Gunther von Dincklage provoked several rumors about her loyalty to France. Fearfully Chanel fled to Switzerland, in hopes of obtaining a fresh new start. Coco chose to convey an upscale, yet relatively low-key lifestyle, residing in upper Lausanne aside the sandy shores of Lake Geneva. She could often be seen indulging in beauty treatments at the Valmont Clinic, which was in close proximity to her oceanfront home. Chanel was also frequently witnessed at the Steffan tea room in upper Montreux, a popular spot for local celebrities. During her stay in Switzerland, a distraught and spiteful Coco began to create her own collection of perfumes without informing her partner Pierre Wertheimer. Though Wertheimer believed his legal rights were breached, he settled the disagreement with Coco civilly. She eventually sold inclusive rights to her name to the Wertheimer family in exchange for a monthly remuneration. This stipend helped to support her and her live-in friend: former Nazi spy, Hans Gunther von Dincklage.

1953 marked the year that Chanel finally returned to Paris, only to discover that famed designer Christian Dior was now the alpha of the couture world. Coco decided to consult her estranged former business-partner Pierre Wertheimer for guidance and financial back-up. In return, Wertheimer was awarded full rights to all Chanel products. Their alliance was hoped to have sparked a flame that would reignite Coco’s majestic stance in the fashion industry. However, this was not the case for the French selection of her clientele. Chanel’s new collections were not successful with local Parisians. It is widely speculated that this is because of Coco’s publicized previous relations with German officer von Dincklage. Still, her collection was celebrated by Americans, who would later become her most prevalent purchases.

In February of 1955, the now famous Chanel suit was re-introduced to the public. Her casual yet sophisticated styles once more captured the eyes of women globally. Also in the same month, the fashionable Chanel chain handled quilted leather handbag originally premiered. Coco additionally and impressively established her first men’s cologne, referred to in France as eau de toilette, which she named Pour Monsieur. Chanel’s spring collection was granted the Fashion Oscar at the 1957 Fashion Awards in Dallas. Soon after, Chanel introduced pea jackets and bell bottoms, whose popularity soared in the 1970’s. Coco is also believed by many to be the initial trend-setter for the now popular suntanned skin look. On the eve of her return from St. Barts, Coco sported a summer glow to a fashion show, standing out from the rest of the powdered and pale faces of all the other women.

January 10, 1971 was the final day of Coco’s life. Her obituary listed her as still “designing, still working” at the time of her death. Though she led a remarkable and extraordinary life, Chanel died alone, with only the presence of her sketches and fabric samples to keep her company. In the last years of her life, Coco had become somewhat of a recluse, only leaving her home when absolutely necessary. She had few real friends, and no family. Many may have envied the aspects of Coco’s glamorous and wealthy lifestyle in theory, but most would not have traded their own lives for hers. Though Coco died with a superfluous amount of money, she was lonesome, and never got to experience the one-of-a-kind love and joy of having a husband or children. After her death, Coco Chanel left behind a true legacy. Still, her life seemed as empty as her pockets were during her childhood. She was 87.

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Interesting Facts On Fashion’s Favourite Rebel Vivienne Westwood

Largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave into the mainstream, not only is Dame Vivienne Westwood a fashion designer, activist and businesswoman, but also most certainly a fashion mastermind.

Punk pioneer Vivienne Westwood is undoubtedly one of Britain’s most recognizable living icons and has left a clear mark in the fashion world, as well as in other areas. Her contributions to modern times are not only creative, but also political and cultural.

Get to know the fashion world’s favorite rebel with these interesting facts of her life and career.

1. She was born Vivienne Isabel Swire

She became Vivienne Westwood when she married Derek Westwood. The marriage only lasted 3 years.

2. Vivienne is a war baby.

She was born during World War II on April 8, 1941 to working class parents in Tintwistle, Derbyshire, England. She lived in a part of the country that had grown up in the Industrial Revolution. She didn’t know about art galleries, seen an art book, nor been to the theatre.

3. She almost gave up fashion and art

Vivienne started sewing clothes for herself at the age of 12 and studied fashion and silversmithing at the University of Westminster’s Harrow School of Art at age 17. But after only 1 term, she left to study at a teacher-training college and eventually became a primary school teacher. Reason why she left the university – she didn’t know how a working-class girl like herself could possibly make a living in the art world.

4. Fashion still calls for her.

Even as a teacher, Vivienne still was able to create her own jewellery, which she would sell at a stall on Portobello Road. She even made her own wedding dress for her wedding with Derek Westwood. After her split with Derek, she met art student and soon to be music business maverick Malcolm McLaren and he became her business partner and lover for 10 years.

5. Vivienne Westwood is the Godmother of Punk

Malcolm opened doors for her in the fashion and art world starting by dressing up the punk rock band that Malcolm managed, the Sex Pistols. The partners soon opened a boutique on King’s Road in Chelsea and called “Let It Rock”, later known as “Sex”, then as “Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die”, “Seditionaries” and lastly “Worlds Ends”. When it opened, the shop proved to be an important fashion and cultural centre for the punk movement, which began in the 70’s in the UK, then spread around the world, and is still very much alive today.

6. A Fashion Mastermind continues to evolve

After the punk era, Vivienne experimented with other themes in the early years of her career starting with her main women’s ready-to-wear line entitled “Pirate” that offered a romantic look which burst onto the fashion scene of the British capital and ensured the collection’s place in history. Her following collections took inspirations from diverse sources such as the film ‘Blade Runner’, the desert landscape, undergarments and Tokyo’s neon signs. She dubbed the period in her career from 1981 to 1985 as “New Romantic” and the one from 1988 to 1992 as “The Pagan Years”. During the latter period, Vivienne’s heroes changed from punks and ragamuffins to ‘Tatler’ girls wearing clothes that parodied the upper class.

7. She does the unexpected

Fast forward to present day… 2014 was a big year for Westwood. She designed not only the new Virgin Atlantic uniforms but also beloved pop culture icon Miss Piggy’s wedding dress for the Disney film ‘Muppets Most Wanted’. The highly anticipated wedding of Miss Piggy and her groom Kermit the Frog took place at the Tower of London where the bride walked down the aisle in a Vivienne Westwood long ivory court wedding gown, with corset detailing and paillettes made from recycled plastic bottles.

8. She’s a Rebel with a Cause

Vivienne often uses her catwalk shows, especially for her menswear and Red Label lines, as platforms to campaign about issues that she supports, such as climate change and Scottish independence. During London Fashion Week in September 2014, for her Red Label Spring/Summer 2015 collection, she sent her models down the runway wearing ‘Yes’ badges, proudly showing her wish for Scotland to break away from the UK. So it is no surprise that Vivienne was inducted into the Scottish Fashion Awards Hall of Fame for consistently used Scottish textiles and fabrics within her collections as well as for the significant impact she has made for campaigning for human rights and environmental issues.

Vivienne Westwood’s distinct point of view and passion are very much unique and worthy of praise, as she has shown throughout her career which so far spans over five decades. To this day, she remains as one of the most sought-after and influential designers, inspiring other brilliant and creative minds such as Karl Lagerfeld and John Galliano. She has dressed everyone from the Sex Pistols, to the Princess of Wales and many of today’s most iconic celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams and Marion Cotillard, just to name a few.

We cannot wait to keep witnessing what Dame Vivienne Westwood will do next.

“My clothes have a story. They have an identity. They have a character and a purpose. That’s why they become classics. Because they keep on telling a story. They are still telling it.”
– Vivienne Westwood.

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British Designer Fashion For Real Women

Fashion is all about getting inspiration from your culture, environment and people, and then bringing life into it by expressing it through various means. Fashion industry puts in huge amount of money to hire new and fresh designers, who come up with new fashion ideas for men and women.

People around you have become more fashionable with time, and follow fashion trends. Designer fashion is expensive, highly sophisticated and classy. There are a few prominent players in the British Designer Fashion Industry. To name a few, John Galliano, Paul Smith, Christopher Bailey, Stella McCartney, John Richmond, Philip Treacy, Vivenne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Julien Macdonald have topped the list of British designer fashion. They not only specialize in clothing but also have a variety of accessories and bags available at their outlets and cater to a huge market globally.

This year, the high-flying British fashion Designer was Christopher Bailey, who won himself the title of Designer of Year 2009. The award was presented to him during the British Fashion Awards ceremony. He has turned Burberry, a traditional brand, into something really huge and global. Christopher Kane and John Galliano also won fashion awards.

British designer fashion for real women is always about a variety of colours; this year, designer collection was not about providing customers with variety, because of the recession and economic downturn, but was to provide them with affordable quality stuff. They used simple and less expensive material matching up to buying trends of the public.

British designer fashion collection for real women included darker shades initially; blacks, blues, browns and greys. Every designer had a black dress in his/her collection. Because of the limited collection, the designers only played around with these colours. They used grey with other colours in combination. These darker colours in combinations look extremely trendy and chic.

But, there was a gradual change to brighter colours, which really turned the moods, because darker shades, if used in abundance, can build boredom. So, it was definitely nice to see a change in colour combinations. Pastel colours became popular during the end of the year 2009. This winter, the British designer fashion was all about brighter colours for both men and women.

British Designer Fashion for real women include a long list of accessories from belts to clutches. Studded belts are extremely popular all around the UK. British Designer fashion is all about accessorizing. Wearing a plain black outfit can make you look chic but until and unless you do not accessorize yourself with a clutch, belt, jewellery, watch or other stuff, it does not add glamour. British designer fashion for real women makes you look trendy and fashionable by providing you with new and sleek cuts. It helps you enhance your body shape, without adding bulky layers to your outfit.

You can be bulky, but the cuts you wear make a huge difference. British Designer fashion for real women does not only cater to slim women, but also provides nicely stitched outfits to bulky women.

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And the Award Goes to… See All the Style Highs and Lows from the 78th Annual Academy Awards

For several years now, the Oscars have offered up the same dreary formula: Witness a brilliant comedian morph into a bumbling amateur (the latest victim, Jon Stewart), wade through scores of long-winded acceptance speeches, and watch every movie you knew would win do precisely that. But just when it looked like the 78th Annual Academy Awards were shaping up to be yet another night of lackluster broadcasting, Crash snagged the Best Picture statuette, and our faith in the unknown was restored. Was it also a night of shockers on the fashion front?

Well, not exactly. With the stakes this high, today’s starlets are far more likely to commit minor fashion faux-pas than sartorial crimes a la Bjork, Cher, or Lara Flynn Boyle (which is, let’s face it, why we watch the show anyway). Even so, as the Beauty Addict Red Carpet review [http://beautyaddictmag.com/thescoop/redcarpetwatch/redcarpetindex.html] reports, there were some superb and unexpected showings…and yes, a few stupefying moments, as well.

The Winners

After black and white stole the show at several awards shows, a handful of more unlikely hues made their mark at the Oscars. Keira Knightly bested the field in an asymmetrical eggplant taffeta gown by Vera Wang with dramatic trumpet skirt and vintage Bulgari necklace. Also outfitted by Vera Wang, Michelle Williams dazzled in a frothy marigold tulle dress with floor-sweeping train and Harry Winston jewels. Amy Adams made a chic statement in a chocolate Carolina Herrera taffeta frock with ribbon accents, corset bodice, and oversize aquamarine earrings (the baubles borrowed from Herrera’s personal collection). Similarly stunning were Jennifer Lopez in a vintage olive green ruched dress from Rita Watnick at Lily et Cie and Bahar Soomekh in a lemon chiffon gown by Calvin Klein. Salma Hayek and Jada Pinkett Smith both glowed in formfitting teal Versace and cobalt Roberto Cavalli, respectively. Several celebs opted for gold, the best of which was Jessica Alba’s embroidered lace Versace halter worn sans necklace (a piece many stars eschewed this year in favor of bold earrings). Other elegant golden girls included Carolina Kurkova in a fluttery Empire strapless dress, Jennifer Garner in glittering a Michael Kors number, and Jane Seymour in a glamorous Pamela Rolland fishtail gown.

Not surprisingly, several celebrities also sported basic black, but more often than not, their ensembles looked more somber than stylish. Some of the best colorless ensembles were Rachel Weisz’s figure-flattering silk embroidered Narciso Rodriguez gown and Queen Latifah’s strapless Carmen Marc Valvo, which, once again, left the queen looking more fashionable than most of the size-zero set. Of course, there was also an array of paler gowns, ranging from stark white to creamy metallic. Nicole Kidman looked especially fresh in a sleek embroidered ivory satin dress by Balenciaga (although Kidman also eschewed the necklace, her clutch bag was an accessorial work of art). Naomi Watts’s haute beige Givenchy number was equally lovely, as was Diane Krueger’s white-and-gold Elie Saab strapless gown. While we could’ve done without the breastplate-style bodice relief pattern, Uma Thurman’s cream Versace with plunging neck and cap sleeves still looked stunning nonetheless (although the Swiss Miss Lacroix she wore two years ago made for better TV). And Reese Witherspoon’s beaded vintage Dior gown wasn’t the night’s fashion frontrunner, but it did represent a marked improvement over last month’s Chanel-Gate getup.

The Losers

Unlike the legendary Oscar gowns we love to hate and the cleavage conundrums that ruled the Golden Globes, most of this year’s fashion gaffes didn’t resemble floats in a parade; they simply lulled us to sleep. Several colorless ensembles—Hilary Swank in Versace, Jennifer Aniston in Rochas, and Jennifer Jason Leigh in Prada—won’t make it to Mr. Blackwell’s, but we won’t remember them tomorrow. Catherine Keener’s gray Monique Lhuillier, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s charcoal Bottega Veneta, and Sandra Bullock’s navy blue Angel Sanchez also looked a bit flat. After her exquisite appearance in chartreuse last month, we were disappointed to see Ziyi Zhang wearing a strangely scalloped black lace bustier (both ensembles were by Giorgio Armani, who, it seems, got it right the first time). And Felicity Huffman, who we were beginning to think was beyond red-carpet reproach, chose a plunging Zac Posen that left her looking shapeless.

Still, there were far worse transgressions. Lisa Rinna, who apparently didn’t get the memo about last month’s décolletage debacle, opted for a shiny violet dress sans much-needed bra (why, oh, why?). Charlize Theron, who rarely makes a red-carpet misstep, looked somehow matronly (we wondered how that was possible, too, and the coiffure didn’t help) in voluminous dark green Dior with ginormous one-shouldered bow. But the evening’s worst showing hands-down belonged to Helena Bonham Carter, whose ill-fitting knee-length blue satin dress looked as if it were about to swallow the actress whole. The frock, coupled with out-of-control bouffant and white shoes, will at least provide some watercooler fodder for the day after.

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