Oscars 2019 – An Homage to Vintage Fashion?

NOBODY knows the red carpet like William Banks-Blaney. Able to call up almost any global fashion reference on demand, he’s the only person we want to talk to when the Oscars come around – for brilliant insight, expert knowledge and always some great gossip on the side. This year we asked for his take on the fashion messages emanating from LA – and the influence it might have. 

“I think it was one of the most exciting red carpets for many years, and while there are obvious nods to the great couturiers of old, there was a fresh breath of real individuality,” says the founder of williamvintage.com –  known for selling dresses that are as rich in fashion heritage as they are in style kudos. 

While last weekend’s carpet didn’t claim many vintage fashion triumphs as per J-Lo’s 2003 vintage Valentino (previously owned by Jackie O, no less), Natalie Portman’s 2012 vintage Dior; or Emma Watson in 2008’s archive Ralph Lauren, it proved plenty of influence from the past. Here are William’s most notable fashion references:

“Lady Gaga’s look shows a debt to Mugler’s 1997 Les Insectes collection,” he says. “Plus this year’s Best Original Song winner (for Shallow, which she wrote alongside Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt and Anthony Rossomando), wore a vintage $30M yellow diamond previously worn by Audrey Hepburn when promoting Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The gloves and hair also have a very Hepburn feel.”

“Selma Blair’s look, by Tamara Ralph of Ralph and Russo, is a huge homage to Madame Gres and her work in the 1950s, with its organic flowing lines, sculptural inspiration and mastery of colour.”

“Constance Wu wore a Versace look that recalls Yves Saint Laurent’s 1999 Marrakech collection, inspired by the idea of spice routes and western romantic ideals of the ‘East’.”

Wow-factor backless dresses had a moment this year too, with Irina Shayk (accompanying Bradley Cooper who was nominated for the Best Actor, Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay awards for A Star Is Born), in incredibly sexy black Burberry and Charlize Theron in Dior. “Sinuous lines of bias cut silk, backless and in the perfect pale blue are all trademarks of the 1930s Art Deco, and combined with Therons newly coloured and bobbed hair, it’s a Jean Harlow homage and a throwback to the glory days of Old Hollywood,” William says.

The whole thing gets the Eco-Age team (who incidentally celebrated our very own inaugural Green Carpet Challenge at the Oscars in 2010 when our co-founder Livia Firth wore a dress by From Somewhere – made from end-of-line offcuts – to accompany her husband Colin who was nominated for A Single Man), excited about the future of awards shows and their potential for pushing the agenda for vintage fashion. Dare we go a step further and think that everyone might rent a vintage dress by next year? One step at a time…


Explore all Green Carpet Challenge looks through the years. 

What does the future of vintage fashion look like? Glenn Ebert shares his insights