Hanging with Madame Fred on the Red Carpet

So the dress I made from the Madame Gres design (or “Madame Fred,” as autocorrect likes to call her) did make it to the red carpet on time:


I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille…Sunset Boulevard was only a couple of blocks/drinks away. (You can read about how I slogged through this dress and three blizzards in this post)

Lucky thing I’d made the dress out of merino wool jersey, known for it’s weather-hardy, quick-drying properties, as a deluge during the red carpet arrivals was making everyone into a soggy mess.


(Those men are trying to stop the rainwater that was pooling on the tent from turning everyone’s haute couture into a wet tee shirt contest.)

I can report that it was truly loads of fun to wear this streamlined, fluid design to stroll among the acres of beads, tulle, trains, boning and other froufrou. Though as froufrou goes, this was definitely the best, most intricate work that I’ll have the opportunity to eyeball outside of a museum.

Take for example the dress worn by Best Actress winner Julianne Moore, by Chanel. Moore always looks classy yet approachable in her red carpet looks, usually opting for jewel-tone colors such as emerald and amethyst to compliment her red hair and pale skin. (Here are some lovely screen shots for you!):
For this outing, where she was considered pretty much a shoo-in to win, she chose an expertly-fitted sheath by Chanel with rows of black circles of beads that reminded me of open tins of caviar (and I mean that in a good way). Here’s what the L.A. Times reported about the construction of the dress:

“Julianne Moore’s Chanel gown in white organza was embroidered with 80,000 small, white, hand-painted resin sequins and flowers. The dress took 987 hours of work and 27 people to complete, according to Chanel representatives.”

What set this apart from the traditional “sheath with stuff on it” that you see frequently on the red carpet was the fine cut and fit, with the strapless bodice following the line of the torso and a skirt that came in slightly thigh-to-knee, then arched out at the back to give her room to walk. She was elegant and glowing in person.

Marion Cotilliard stayed true to her Frenchy vision of pushing the envelope with this Dior gown:


It looked a sheath in the front, but when she turned around revealed a rounded pleated back reminiscent of vintage Balenciaga.


Though one fashion rake in the media wrote that the fabric looked like it had been gone over with a giant hole-puncher, in person the dress, which is covered in white sequins with circular cut-outs, was classy and whimsical at the same time.

The red carpet itself is a bit of a zoo. Here’s Rosamund Pike sashaying by, looking a little “Moulin Rouge” in Givenchy…


I also got a good look at Zoe Saldana’s draped pale gown by Versace Atelier, which, on top of being classy, was expertly fitted to hug her curves without pulling, a rare occurrence on red carpets lately. She pulled off one of the better “old Hollywood” look of the night.


Reese Witherspoon’s gown by Tom Ford was equally well-fitted and classy.


And here’s my old nemesis, Meryl Streep, wearing a feminine tux look by Lanvin:

It was a good choice for someone who has been to the show frequently; by now she knows it’s freezing in the theater. And her outfit doesn’t look anything like mine! Proving that my graphics team, AKA the chipmunks who used to live in my kitchen, were the ones leaking information to her stylist after all. Good thing I fired them. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read this post)

And George Clooney was a no show! So, sadly, no ripping off of my dress to inspect the haphazard interior.

George Clooney
Sigh. I still forgive you, George. (Here’s the post explaining that in-joke.)

In case you think that the show day is all-glitz all the time, the truth is that for we “normal” women attending, the “beauty” team consists of your own brush, your makeup kit, and the nail place down the street. (Good thing they cancelled “mani-cam.”) And rather than attending that celebrity new age fitness workfarm, known as The Ashram, to take off a few pounds that weekend, I hiked briskly from Cinderella’s Castle to Tomorrowland on a Disney forced march, following a strict diet of burgers and root beer. But this is my real secret weapon:


The morning of the show, my husband and I went to the red carpet area to have a look around. Media people were already there in black tie, rehearsing for the hubbub later on.


Then I did some zen meditation over fabrics at The Fabric Store (where I bought the merino jersey I used for the Madame Gres dress), and clearly I had forgotten that there was still six feet of snow at home.


Security is so tight around the Dolby Theater the day of the show, that to escape it, we always walk over to Mel’s Diner for lunch, where American Graffiti was filmed.


Glamorous, I know. Believe it or not, the food’s pretty good.



During the show itself, everyone in the balcony was spending as much time on social media as they were watching the show, with people frequently popping out to partake of the open bar. Since it was chilly up there, I whipped the drape of my dress over my shoulders. I decided that wool jersey was just the ticket for black tie.

During the after party, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, who was wearing a sort of dinner jacket/chef’s jacket hybrid, was offering small plates that included baked potatoes in foil with sour cream (a very typical dish in the U.S. while I was growing up), but it was topped with a dollop of caviar, speaking of which.


The little shot glasses of pea soup were laced with truffle. The ironic high/low food pairings is so American in just the weirdest way.

The whole time I was blabbing away on Instagram, Twitter, and several Facebook pages, proving that I have become the social media freak that I frequently warn my son he might turn into. The next morning, during the 6:00 a.m. airport run, feeling like I had Cinderella’s other shoe in my mouth, I saw that haute couture master teacher and author Kenneth D. King had left this comment on a picture of my dress: “Beautiful, flattering, and fits far better than the borrowed stuff you see in the other photos of the “celebs”…

Sheesh, who needs an gold statuette when you hear that!

Now I’m back sewing some “vintage” garments from…1980 and the year 2000?

How’s your sewing going?

42 thoughts on “Hanging with Madame Fred on the Red Carpet

  1. Great post – a real insider view of the Awards – and after living through the blizzard creation of Madame Gres with you, I’m sure all of us readers are as thrilled with the blessings of Kenneth D. King as you are.

  2. Always love you Oscar-posts, it makes it somehow more real than just watching it on television.
    Already saw you photo on Facebook, you looked gorgeous, this pattern is so sublte and yet so special, perfect balance in my opinion.
    And I am a fan of Marion Cottilliard’s dress. Someone on the web compared it to a macro-photo of toilet paper, that was really too much. Though we could argue about the fabric, the style is symply stunning and forbides every discussion about the circle pattern.

    • I did get to see Marion C’s dress up close, and it was stunning. Also so unique compared to the more traditional gowns. The fabric was sequined, which didn’t show up so much in the photos.

  3. As home sewing couture/geek/freaks, we drool in front of the television, dreaming of having the lifestyle to wear and make such beautiful dresses. I am very glad at least one of us is just doing that! I can’t wait for next year!

  4. I’m not sure what makes me more envious: a trip to Disneyland or a compliment from Kenneth King! Of course I’m teasing, it’s definitely Kenneth King. No surprise that the wool jersey was a great choice!

  5. Thank you for the inside peek. Your frock is divine, as confirmed by King Kenneth himself.

    Do you get close enough to fondle any of those fabulous frocks? Actually just typing that I realise it is a silly question, I imagine the entourages keep the normal people well away! I’m afraid that if I was that close to that much couture I would run the risk of ejection as I would be begging “can I just please stroke your hem?”. Step away strange lady, step away. Better still, strange lady, just come with me…………………

  6. You and Madame Fred look oh so chic! And you showed my favourite dresses, too – those on Marion Cotillard, Julianne Moore and yes the Givenchy on Rosamund Pike (loved the bouquet of roses look).

    • It sure is fun to have a close-up look at that haute couture. I tend to spend more time looking at the outfit than I do at the star. Unless it’s George Clooney…sigh.

  7. Heureusement que je te lis …. , mais il fait quoi Georges ??? si il ne vient même plus aux Oscar !!!!
    Depuis qu’il est marié, il est ingérable … ,je te l’avais, déjà dit, l’an dernier qu’il fallait “l harponner ” (attraper tel un pêcheur) , avant qu’il ne soit trop tard !!!
    Magnifique travail et merci pour ce blog plein d’humour … Même si je ne comprends pas tout 🙂
    Ta robe de Mme Fred est superbe, très chic !
    A + Christine

    • Hello Christine! Did you see the Oscars from the beach in Thailand? You are so right, we should have harpooned George when he was still available. I hope you three are doing well, and that we are on the same continent again sometime soon. Love to you, Philippe and Alexandre.

      • Je n’ai malheureusement pas vu les Oscars, nous étions en Mer d Andaman, nous faisions sur semaine de bateaux, ( vacances scolaires) dans les îles autour de Phuket ( James Bond Island, Racha, … ) . Mais on a bien fait … Georges n était pas là ! A+ Christine

  8. Pingback: I sewed for the Oscars again, and lived! | Jet Set Sewing

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