By Maria Caspani
(Reuters) – “Pose” star Billy Porter had promised a surprise for Sunday’s Oscars red carpet – and he delivered with a gold-filled grand entrance.
Porter, who has dominated red carpets in the past year with headline-grabbing, gender-fluid outfits, kicked off the 92nd Academy Awards celebrations in a Giles Deacon custom couture outfit, rocking a gold-feathered top and a voluminous printed gown paired with custom Jimmy Choo shoes – also golden.
“Welcome to the #academyawards2020. Let the fashion games begin!,” Porter wrote in a Twitter post in which he shared a photo and details about his outfit.
Rain threatened to dampen – if not the mood, perhaps some of the elaborate hairdos and dresses of the many Hollywood stars walking the red carpet on Sunday afternoon.
Actress Regina King, one of the night’s presenters and the winner of last year’s best supporting actress award for her role in the film adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel “If Beale Street Could Talk,” walked the red carpet in a single-strap light pink Versace gown with a diamond-laced top.
“I think it works with the weather because it’s warm,” King said, jokingly referring to the chilly weather outside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Asked by TV personality Ryan Seacrest about last year’s win, she responded, “It’s still surreal in a lot of ways for the piece that it was that I won for — that James Baldwin has so much to do with American culture, American literature. I still can’t believe that this is the anniversary of that moment.”
Best supporting actress nominee and Hollywood royalty Laura Dern also chose pink for this year’s awards ceremony. She graced the red carpet in a pale pink gown featuring a top encrusted with draped black crystals.
Julia Butters, the 10-year-old actress who starred in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” alongside Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, chose a pink dress with puffy sleeves and reportedly stashed a turkey sandwich in her designer purse.
“Julia Butters brought a turkey sandwich in her purse because ‘I don’t like some of the food here,'” Los Angeles Times reporter Amy Kaufman wrote in a Twitter post that showed a photo of a smirking Butters and her sandwich.
Brad Pitt, who won the statuette for best supporting actor, and Leonardo DiCaprio, a nominee for the best actor award, both wore tuxedos with a bow tie, and both showed up unaccompanied.
Fresh from her triumph at the Grammy Awards, singer Billie Eilish hit the red carpet in oversized Chanel jacket and pants, while “Little Women” star Saoirse Ronan, who is nominated in the best actress category, sported bangs and a multicolored gown.
But it was not just about glitz and glamor.
Director Spike Lee paid homage to late Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant on the Oscars red carpet with a purple and gold jacket with the number 24 embroidered on the lapels – the number of Bryant’s jersey.
“Tribute, honor, homage – we all miss him,” an emotional Lee said during a brief interview on the red carpet.
Academy award winner Natalie Portman delivered a statement on Hollywood’s poor record on gender equality with a Dior cape embroidered with the names of female directors.
Portman said she wanted to “recognize the women who are … not recognized for their incredible work this year.”
Wearing a crystal-studded, hooded Ralph Lauren gown that reportedly took 600 hours to make, actress and singer Janelle Monae delivered her message during a pre-show interview with Billy Porter.
“I think the important takeaway is to listen to black women,” Monae said when asked about her role in “Harriet,” a movie about the life of slavery-era hero Harriet Tubman. “When we are in positions of leadership, when we have your support we can do the unthinkable.”
(Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Jonathan Oatis)