LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ethereal, strapless silhouettes and wavy tresses gave the Oscars red carpet a patina of old Hollywood glamour on Sunday as the year's top actresses and presenters led the way in blush, grey and black sequined gowns.
"There were no misses this year, everyone had very good taste," said Avril Graham, executive fashion and beauty editor at Harper's Bazaar.
"Silver Linings Playbook" Best Actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence, 22, wowed critics with her off-white Christian Dior Couture strapless gown with a full-tiered skirt and a long necklace dropping down her back.
The actress, who is the face of Christian Dior's Miss Dior brand and has been wearing the designer to the awards leading up to the Oscars, said it was the only dress she tried on for the event.
Fellow Dior brand ambassador Charlize Theron wore a white strapless couture gown from the French fashion house.
Halterneck column gowns were a popular trend on the red carpet as stars opted for a long and lean silhouette this year.
"Les Miserables" star Amanda Seyfried opted for a pale grey and lilac embroidered Alexander McQueen halterneck dress, while her co-star and Best Supporting Actress winner Anne Hathaway received mixed reviews for her blush pink Prada halterneck satin strapless gown with a daring low back.
In an interview on the red carpet Hathaway quipped, "it's business in the front and party in the back."
Hathaway "had a shade of Audrey Hepburn in her pastel Prada," with her cropped pixie cut, Graham said.
Blush and nude hues were a hot trend on the runways for spring and were echoed in the clean palettes on this year's Oscar red carpet.
"The Master" supporting actress nominee Amy Adams stunned crowds in a strapless pale grey full-skirted tulle Oscar de la Renta gown, while last year's supporting actress winner Octavia Spencer wore a blush Tadashi Shoji number.
Zoe Saldana's white strapless bustier Alexis Mabille dress was offset by grey underlays peeking out.
Contrasting the off-white gowns were the actresses picking gold, gunmetal greys and bright colors that stood out on the red carpet at Hollywood's Dolby Theater.
Jessica Chastain, nominated for Best Actress for "Zero Dark Thirty," channeled golden-age Hollywood glamour with a deep gold sequined Armani Prive strapless dress, accessorizing with soft side waves in her auburn hair.
Hal Rubenstein, editor-at-large at InStyle, said this year's red carpet choices showed "restraint," with trends for strong silhouettes paired with old Hollywood glamour.
"The shapes were really strong yet simple, not over-adorned ... it was a real harmonious look from top to bottom," Rubenstein said, naming Jennifer Hudson in navy Roberto Cavalli, Nicole Kidman in black sequined column L'Wren Scott, and Chastain's gold strapless Armani as his top picks.
Metallic sparkle was another big trend on the red carpet, with Naomi Watts, Best Actress nominee for "The Impossible," leading the way in a gunmetal sequined one-shouldered Giorgio Armani gown.
Catherine Zeta Jones, in a gold sequined Zuhair Murad gown and Halle Berry in a strong-shouldered silver and black striped Versace fitted gown, followed suit.
Quvenzhane Wallis, the 9-year-old actress competing with Best Actress nominees Lawrence, Watts, Chastain and Emmanuelle Riva, accessorized her navy sparkling Armani gown with a fluffy puppy purse.
"The Sessions" Supporting Actress nominee Helen Hunt shunned high-end designers to wear retail brand H&M in a navy blue strapless gown, stunning fashionistas with her choice.
"Lincoln" Supporting Actress nominee Sally Field added color to the red carpet in a full-sleeved vibrant red Valentino dress.
Reese Witherspoon stood out in a strapless cobalt blue Louis Vuitton gown, "Django Unchained" star Kerry Washington wowed critics with her coral and blush Miu Miu dress and Jennifer Garner, holding husband Ben Affleck's hand, wore an eggplant purple strapless flowing Gucci gown.
Editing by Mary Milliken and Stacey Joyce