Since I blogged only about Autumns and Winters at the Golden Globes (working and mothering cut into my computer time, alas), I think it's fair to focus on the Summers and Springs at this year's Academy Awards.
I'll start with the adorable Reese Witherspoon.
Despite how cute she is, it's hard to find pics of Reese in flattering colors; I get the feeling she's a Light Summer who's not comfortable with the perceived girliness and insubstantiality of the Light Summer palette.
Here's one of the only pics I could find showing her in a color that's Light Summery:
So sweet. I'd love to see her looking like this more often.
The gown she wore to the 2006 Oscars was also a natural color:
In both of the pics above, our eyes go to Reese's face. The colors look as if they're lifted right from her skin. Her naturally low level of contrast is not overwhelmed.
For most big events, unfortunately, Reese chooses colors more appropriate for a Winter. This year's Oscars was no exception.
(I won't nitpick right now about her artificially blonde hair. Though I oppose it on principle, she is, as a Light Summer, one of the few seasons who can convincingly fake blondisme.)
Things from the neck up are pretty harmonious, I think.
Apart from the silly but inevitable black liner, the overall look is Reese, only better. She has a beautifully light and neutral-cool cheek, and a beautifully light and neutral-cool lip. The hair is a natural-looking combination of golden, neutral and ash tones. Reese presents a beautiful Light Summer visage.
It's when we zoom out that things become less sweet.
To her credit, she's showing a lot of bare skin next to her face, which will always neutralize the effects of a bad color somewhat. (Your skin acts as a harmonious color.) Also, the band of white at the top of the dress isn't bad for her.
But the huge block of black, and the contrast between the black and the white, keep dragging the eyes down to the dress and away from her face.
And when you look back up at her face, what you see first is black eyeliner and white teeth. Your brain is connecting them to the black and white of the dress.
The result is that the black-circled eyes and the grinning mouth seem to leap out at us, detached from the rest of her face. Weird. Not lovely.
Gwyneth Paltrow, another Light Summer, came very close to completely embodying her season's beauty. I believe she missed the mark by just a hair - or maybe I should say by an eye. Let's look first at those eyes:
There is something peculiar and not Light Summery happening around Gwyneth's eye here. The liner and mascara are too dark, and the shadow reads as muddy.
(The hair is also too one-dimensionally yellow for Light Summer, IMHO... but it's not a deal-killer. )
I think it's the eyes alone that prevent Gwyneth from achieving full Light Summer radiance. See her in the gown, which should flatter a Light Summer. You want to like it, but something's a tiny bit off.
Now look at the picture again, and mentally fill in a more natural-looking eye:
Way better, don't you think? The eye makeup was creating the interference.
On to yet another Light Summer: Cate Blanchett.
I almost always find that Cate Blanchett beautifully presents her true colors. Her Oscars look this year, though, was widely criticized. What was right and what wasn't?
The face was perfect, I thought.
Very light, very natural, more cool than warm as befits a Light Summer, and in the earring a tiny touch of golden glow. Just lovely.
(And she declined the too-dark liner that's de rigeur on red carpets. Strong woman!)
So why all the criticism? I believe it was nothing more than the peculiar design of the dress.
The big circle is just weird. And those crusty bits look uncomfortable.
The colors in the gown are actually darn good for her. The white is cool and a touch greyish; the darker areas of the crusty bits read as greyish-pink and greyish-purple; and the tiny bit of bright yellow is a nice Light Summer accent.
Wouldn't it have been wonderful to see her in a gown of these colors but with a more pleasing design? Oh well.
Now for a few Springs.
I suppose I'd better address Scarlett Johansson first and get it over with.
When I look at this all I can think is, "Oh, Lord."
She's so very, very beautiful. Yet most of us looked better at our high school prom than Scarlett does here. Why, Scarlett? Why the weirdly orange eye? Why the violet lace? (And P.S. - Why the messy hair?)
Well, Scarlett J. frequently picks colors that don't flatter her. (Google images of her and you'll see.) She's young and gorgeous, so we forgive her. She has time yet to discover the truth of her beauty. Here are a few examples of occasions when she has done better:
Let's look at Scarlett again in that violet, alongside a lovely Deep Autumn who deserves the color:
Like night and day. Or like Autumn and Spring. ;-)
Another dress everyone was talking about was Amy Adam's deep blue gown. I saved a picture of the gown in a file called "OK, not great."
Before we look at it, though, let's see Warm Spring Amy in a really good color, at the 2008 Oscars:
Oh, wow. Fantastic.
Notice that she can handle a fair bit of depth. Some Warm Spring colors do go that deep. Notice also that she needs vivid (highly saturated) color.
Now, to the dress in question. This blue is very close to one of Warm Spring's deep blues. And it's nice and vivid. So why isn't the effect here as magical? Why do we see the dress before we see Amy?
I think it's mainly an issue of balance.
This is a very deep blue - as deep as Warm Spring's colors go. It's in the palette because it's the complement to one of Warm Springs beautiful oranges, but blue is a cool color. Coming right up to Amy's neck, it creates an effect of too much cool and deep. Yes, Warm Springs are flattered by contrast, but in this case the deep blue is more dominating than contrasting.
See how much more flattering a similar blue is when Amy balances it with a larger expanse of very light skin:
Here, the blue and the orange balance each other. The warmer lip helps as well.
Let's look at a Spring who, in spite of artificially lightened hair and a too-dark eye, reads as very natural: Jennifer Lawrence.
The right color can make up for a lot.
Honestly, I'm not sure what Jennifer's exact season is. I never noticed her before the Oscars. I only know she's a Spring because she looks so perfectly balanced in this very warm, highly saturated color, and because the blonde hair doesn't look totally wrong on her. (Again, I won't nitpick, though I'm sure her true color would be more glorious.)
Is she Bright, maybe? I think not... Imagine this outrageous color going all the way up to her chin, like Amy Adams' gown. I don't think it would work. I think there's a limit to how much color this girl can take.
What other Springs and Summers got it right - or wrong?