Fashion

Meet The Oscars' Cape Crusaders

As per our style advisors, Natalie Portman et al, it’s time incorporate a superhero edge to our autumn/winter wardrobe

Emma Firth | 10.02.2020

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Signed, sealed, delivered: It feels like a long time coming, but we made it. The Oscars finally happened. Historically, this is the save-the-best-until-last, GBBO showstopper of fashion moments on the red carpet. Behind the seams, there is zero chance of last-minute shopping woes (Lana Del Rey the exception to this rule, who wore a $500 dress she bought from “the mall” mere hours before the 62nd Grammy Awards last month). Preparation is everything, often starting months before the event. The exposure for designers is not to be knocked; in less than 12 hours, as of writing this piece, #Oscars has already knocked up 2.7 million searches on Instagram. That is a lot of eyes.

And yet, even though the Academy Awards style watch hangover is one of the biggest talking points - often overshadowing the actual winners of the night – and the holy grail for designers as the likes and comments roll in, it still does not persuade us to drop a cool $150,000 on a bespoke ballgown. Lovely as that fantasy is, it’s actual wearability is pretty thin.

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At this year’s Oscars, however, the frothy, fairy-tale Princess dresses took a backseat. In its place: Trouser suits, stars using their clothes to make political statements, a sea of vintage (our favourite: Margot Robbie’s 90s Chanel throwback), oversized styles and a salute to accessibility. See Timothée Chalamet’s 'I’m just everyday people' attire, Julia Butters packing a turkey sandwich in her (OK, $2.5K) purse to the cape crusaders.

On the Marvel-esque spectrum, Natalie Portman proved superheroes really do wear capes, Dior Haute Couture capes no less, which featured the names of eight female directors who weren't nominated for the Best Director prize embroidered along the edge of her outerwear (including Greta Gerwig, Melina Matsoukas and Alma Har’el). Then Brie Larson paired her shimmering Celine dress with a matching floor-length cape. Elsewhere, there were the inbetweeners: from Maya Rudolph's burnt orange Valentino half-cape dress to Janelle Monae’s Little Red Riding Hood do-over, in a custom, crystal-encrusted Ralph Lauren gown (created using 168,000 Swarovski Crystals) with a glittering hood.

There’s usually an 80-90% chance this outwear trend will make an appearance come autumn (this season is no exception, with designer approval from the likes of Miu Miu, Celine, JW Anderson and more). Granted, options may be in no short supply, but it can still be tricky and daunting process to find one that suits.

Too much? It could veer on looking like you’re auditioning for a BBC costume drama (potentially, no bad thing TBH). Too little? We’re painstakingly close to entering poncho territory (the marmite of cover-ups). A safe bet: choose tailored cuts (a part blazer/cape hybrid a good entry point), block colours and wear a fitted, simple outfit underneath to offset the volume…

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