Actresses raise the fasion stakes this year

Coco Chanel once decreed, “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”

And this year, classy and fabulous they are. The glamazons of the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild have significantly raised the red-carpet fashion ante. The early award shows are no longer Oscar’s ugly stepsisters.

With Sandra Bullock in Alexander McQueen, Drew Barrymore in Atelier Versace, Chloe Sevigny in Valentino, Anna Kendrick in Alberta Ferretti and Marion Cotillard in Dior, the Golden Globes have once again brought out the haute runways looks.

At another time, these dressy gowns would have been reserved for the Oscars. No more.

“There once was a different spirit at each of these awards shows. This season, that changed. Actresses have stepped it up. It’s much more glamourous — much more of a gown moment,” says celebrity stylist Robert Verdi. “There had been blips of it, but the watershed happened this season.”

All three awards events are equally important and competitive, according to “Entertainment Tonight” fashion commentator Steven Cojocaru. “Images are heavily critiqued and dissected. These girls are being fed to the lions.”

Hence the added pressure on actresses to land the best gown — the one that will crown her the red carpet star. And there are only a few frocks that can create that high-voltage moment.

“The dress … has to do its job, which is to increase the celebrity’s visibility, raise her Q rating, elevate her as a tastemaker and style leader,” says Verdi.

It’s big business if an actress becomes recognized as a style icon as clothing, beauty lines and endless other endorsements beckon.

And while it’s great to wow them at both the Globes and SAG, a star runs the risk of throwing in the fashion kitchen sink too early as is the case with Kate Hudson. The actress wore a drop-dead Marchesa to the Globes and a killer Emilio Pucci for SAG.

So what does Kate wear to the Big One?

“It’s hard to say how far a star can go,” Verdi mulls. “What’s left? Princess Diana’s wedding gown?”

Ah, but there’s always Paris. The fashion shows recently wrapped up, and stylists are betting that A-listers will be wearing creations from Elie Saab, Armani Prive or Chanel Haute Couture.

“I hope to see these girls wear the best of couture, the best of the runways,” adds Cojocaru. “But they have to be very calculated in their risk. They don’t want to look like they’re wearing a costume.

“When a star is in the middle of an Oscar campaign, the clothes and presentation are vital,” Cojo concludes. “These girls are like racehorses. They’re in serious competition. They have to look like Oscar winners.”

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