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Published: Thursday, 3/4/2004

Oscar fashion: Glamour, not glitz

Holly Hunter in a tulle and chiffon dress by Vera Wang.
Holly Hunter in a tulle and chiffon dress by Vera Wang.

We miss Cher.

The annual gown and tux parade at the Academy Awards is usually the greatest fashion show on earth. While most folks show up looking gorgeous and glamorous, viewers have always been able to count on the fact that someone would goof up, big time, and it would be great. And usually, that someone was Cher.

The singer and actress of course was legendary for her excessive ensembles. Rooster feather headdress? Did it. Outfit made from netting and beads and nothing else? Ditto. Colorful print bandeau and sarong, suitable for a beach party? 1974, baby. It was all deliriously tasteless, and after Sunday night's exercise in nice, safe outfits, we yearned for Cher.

Uma Thurman's Cossack fantasy dress made us shake our head, but listlessly. Diane Keaton's Annie Hall throwback failed to make us jeer. Even Best Everything winner Peter Jackson's widely criticized sloppy tux and tresses elicited only a faint cluck of disapproval, overwhelmed as we were by the Sea of Safe.

Still, the red carpet parade Sunday offered a few excuses to stop playing computer games and look up.

‚óŹPoised in pink. Best Actress nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes appeared in a pale pink dress and capelet designed by fellow New Zealander Liz Mitchell. The Whale Rider star, now 13, sported a sparkling barrette in the shape of a whale, and trendy drop earrings. All in all, she struck a perfect balance between age-appropriate modesty and grown-up charm.

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