Hollywood’s hottest stars strutted down the Oscars red carpet early Monday in a stunning parade of bejeweled couture gowns, glittering diamonds and debonair tuxedos.
Many of Tinseltown’s A-list actresses opted for strapless dresses and minimal jewelry. While some made a statement with the metallic glamour of silver and gold, others opted for bold eye-catching colors.
Viola Davis, a nominee for best actress for her portrayal of a housemaid in the civil rights drama “The Help,” may have lost the award to Meryl Streep, but she was a definite winner in the race for Oscars fashion glory.
Davis wowed the crowd in a strapless emerald Vera Wang gown with a cleavage-baring neckline and pleated detailing fanning out from the knee.
“She did right by me,” Davis said of Wang.
Her co-star Octavia Spencer, who won the best supporting actress prize, chose a glittering white and silver gown by Tadashi Shoji, who has dressed her for most of her red carpet appearances during Hollywood's awards season.
And Jessica Chastain, who played a ditzy housewife in “The Help” and was competing against Spencer, earned cheers for her strapless black Alexander McQueen gown with gold detailing at the bodice and hemline.
“I was really trying to get noticed this year,” Chastain quipped, referring to her work in seven movies in 2011, including “The Help” and “The Tree of Life,” both of which were in the running for the best picture Oscar.
Chastain -- who bucked the Oscars trend for up hairdos, leaving her red tresses trailing down her back -- was also bedecked in $2 million worth of Harry Winston jewels.
Sparkling silver was a key look -- from the slinky one-shoulder Elie Saab dress worn by Milla Jovovich to the plunging V-neck Zuhair Murad number sported by Jennifer Lopez. Both presented awards on Sunday.
Oscars gold was also on display with Best Actress winner Meryl Streep resplendent in a glittering floor-length belted Lanvin dress.
And Angelina Jolie looked every bit the mega-star that she is, wearing a strapless black velvet Versace gown with a thigh-high slit and red, red lipstick.
Best Actress nominee Michelle Williams rocked a strapless coral-red Louis Vuitton number with cascading ruffles and a simple necklace, while “The Help” star Emma Stone opted for a flowing fire-engine red Giambattista Valli.
Last year’s Best Actress winner Natalie Portman opted for old Hollywood glamour, choosing a vintage strapless red Christian Dior gown with quirky polka dots.
Not too many pastels were seen on the red carpet, but “The Artist” star and best supporting actress nominee Berenice Bejo shone in a mint Elie Saab gown with a deep V-neck and bejeweled sheer sleeves.
Melissa McCarthy, also up for a best supporting actress award for her work in “Bridesmaids,” sported a blush Marina Rinaldi goddess gown with fluttering sleeves and jeweled detailing at the neckline and waist.
British comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen -- sporting full faux strongman regalia in a publicity stunt for his new film, “The Dictator” -- created quite a red carpet stir.
“I’m wearing John Galliano... the socks are from K-Mart,” Baron Cohen quipped, dressed in military white and dripping with medals -- and flanked by two sexy female guards in red berets.
The actor, a member of the cast of “Hugo,” then dumped what he jokingly called the ashes of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il from an urn onto TV presenter Ryan Seacrest. Security guards pulled him away.
Aside from Baron Cohen, best actor nominee George Clooney led the way for the men in classic Giorgio Armani black. Best supporting actor winner Christopher Plummer added a touch of flair with a velvet jacket.