Not again, Kate

Was she even listening after the BAFTAs?

What did Kate Winslet wear for her Oscar moment? Grey. Grey, I tell you!

Was it a job interview? No. Had a relative recently died? I believe not. Was it about to be the most exciting evening of her entire life? Quite possibly.

Oh dear.

And the winner-takes-all colour of the night? White. Penelope Cruz, tick. Nicole Kidman and Marisa Tomei, tick. SJP, ditto. OK, it was pale green, technically, but it looked white in the photos. Even Miley Cirus (lose the belt, love). But Penelope in her Balmain won the out and out prize. Vintage, voluminous, delicate, lovely. Worthy of an Oscar all by its little old self.

Ah, the Oscars. Danny Boyle was as gracious as ever. Kate managed to hold it together. Ricky Gervais was there in spirit as a joke-writer, even if he didn’t get to present. The filming of ‘Slumdog – The Oscars’ would’ve brought as much of a tear to the eye as the original (adapted) screenplay. All that was missing was Joan Rivers dissing the dresses.

Bring back Joan! Enough with the bright young things desperately asking inane questions of stars who are trying not to look as if they’d rather have all their veneers removed without anaesthetic than dignify them with an answer. It’s basically a frock show, with statues. Joan knows this. We know this. But not even Joan could have dissed Penelope.

Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be Penelope Cruz in vintage Balmain and be the most beautiful, stunningly talented, fabulously dressed woman on the planet, winning a prize so valuable studies have shown it will actually prolong my life.

There. I feel better already.

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Jade – a gem

What do 176,000 hits on an NHS web page, Elton John and a scruffy van outside Harrods have in common? Those of you paying any attention to the news at the moment will be screaming, ‘Oh, come ON! Jade Goody. OBVIOUSLY.’ And you’re right, of course.

She’s an odd mixture, our Jade. The ordinariness. The vulnerability. The preternatural talent for publicity. I know far more about her than I ever cared to. But now, suddenly, I care. Because women all over the country – young women – are finding out about cervical cancer and will be doing more to avoid it thanks to her.

The relevant web page used to get 2000 hits a day before Jade got the bad news in the Bollywood Big Brother house. That rate went up to 176,000 and has now settled down at two or three times what it used to be. Rates of young women going for smear tests have risen by 20% in one hospital.

The reasons we were originally fascinated by Jade were all negative. Then she reappeared on our screens and got a reputation for bullying and our fascination increased. Mine didn’t much, I have to say, but it was hard to avoid at least a vague idea of what she was up to when you’re as much of a fashion-and-celebrity junkie as me.

What little I knew, I didn’t like. But more than that, I didn’t care. Then this woman I didn’t like much or care about got a disease I’m not personally involved with (don’t know anyone with it or who’s died of it) and somehow I got suckered in. I actually DO care that she’s chosen to live out her last few months in public. I admire her for it. I know she seems to be addicted to TV cameras, and that she needs the money, but whatever her reasons, she’s doing something useful at a time when most people would just shut down.

I’ve known friends with other types of cancer and often wondered what exactly were the horrors they were going through. I was too polite to ask, and they didn’t want to say, but it was difficult feeling desperately sorry for them and their families without knowing exactly what it was they were fearful of and what I was feeling sorry for. The Jade warts-and-all approach is actually helpful.

So when I was walking past Harrods this lunchtime and spotted a crowd of paparazzi lurking by one of the side doors, and when it turned out they were waiting not for a person, but for a wedding dress in a covering, and when I surmised that the dress in question must be Mohammed Al Fayed’s contribution to Jade’s weekend wedding (about which I know so many unnecessary details, including the location at ‘one of Elton John’s mansions’), and as I watched the dress being hoiked into a grubby white van by someone in overalls, instead of feeling massively let down by the outrageous cult of celebrity that even sends photographers out for dress coverings for reality TV stars, I was touched.

Perhaps it’s partly because she has two young boys and so do I. Perhaps it’s because she’s got Max Clifford involved (smart move, Jade) and he’s a genius. Perhaps it’s because Sir Elton’s triple-A list glamour really does rub off on the minor bodies that reach his orbit. Perhaps it’s because I lost a distant friend with young children to breast cancer recently and it’s awful. Just devastating. No silver lining. But something has changed.

I am the girl who saw the cover of Jade Goody’s wedding dress going into a van today. And you read it here.

It’s not your dress, Kate, it’s mine

Enough with the black already!

It was starting to look ominous at the Golden Globes. That Yves Saint Laurent number Kate Winsltt blubbed over? Black. Anne Hathaway? Disturbingly dark. Angelina and Kristin Scott Thomas? Beige. But the BAFTAs were infinitely more sinister.Marion Cottillard (who wore unforgettable white Chanel to win her Oscar last year)? Black … with a hint of white. Angelina? Black and yellow. But mostly black. And Brad wore a black scarf over his black tuxedo just to drive home the point.

Meryl Streep? Guess. Penelope Cruz? Got it. Goldie Hawn??!! Let me repeat: Goldie Hawn. Gold, surely? Silver, at least? No. Black. Even Alesha Dixon, whose sole job in life is to show off her legs and flood us with happiness, wore floor-length jet. It’s as if they’ve all been told by their stylists that It’s Bad Out There. Everyone Is Miserable. And they don’t dare buck the trend.

Sure, the hair was nice. Everyone was charming about the hair. But the reason they noticed was because the dresses were UNBELIEVABLY BORING.

What is it this awards season? Is it Heath Leger’s overdose? Is it The Recession? (I grant it capital letters because if it’s affecting Brangelina’s wardrobe choices, it needs them.) Why does every major star with a film to promote feel the need to channel Queen Victoria post Albert? Honorable exceptions are Sharon Stone (no film) and Frieda Pinto (not major). They chose pink for the BAFTAs. Hooray! But they were in a pathetic minority.

This just shows today’s stars missing the point entirely. We all understand that they get paid footballer salaries to go out, live the high life and fulfil our dreams for us. They’re our modern day sacrificial victims, except they get personal trainers instead of fattening diets, and they get paparazzi instead of carnivorous volcanoes. Their job is to do the stuff we don’t get to do and cheer us up. Most importantly, they’re supposed to wear the stuff we can’t wear, and have fun doing it.

At times like these, more than ever, we need distractions, not reinforcement. The movie awards themselves are confirming it in spades. Are they rewarding Meryl Streep (black bonnet) scaring the bejeezus out of Philip Seymour Hoffman (black surplice)? Or Angelina being hosed down in a mental asylum? No! It’s Dev Patel winning 20 million rupees and Bollywood dancing on a station platform. It’s Mickey Rourke rising from the dead and doing it with a funny hairstyle. If Meryl had been up for Mamma Mia, she’d have been in with a chance. Doubt? I don’t think so.

Kate Winslet had her moment in that blue Narcisco Rodriguez number at the SAG awards. The one where she rashly tried to name four women and forgot The Most Famous Woman On The Planet. Anyway. Fabulous colour. Exceptional cleavage. Va va voom. But note, she saved it for the ceremony we can’t remember. The little one that none of us mere mortals would miss if it quietly slipped off the calendar.

Stop, Kate! Think! When you step in front of those cameras on the red carpet, you’re suggesting how I could look if I was a stunning, talented actress with great bone structure, good boobs, reliable hair and a posse of make-up artists, dressers, designers and jewellers to turn me into a goddess for the evening. That’s not your dress you’re wearing. It’s mine.

And I don’t want to wear black right now. I want bling and zing and a reminder that the world is not, in fact, coming to an end. We have a new President (OK, he’s black, but that’s not the same thing). We know from history that things will get better. We all have our moments when things are, actually, fine. Go celebrate them.

The Oscars are coming up in a couple of weeks. Pick out the shocking pink. Go blue again. Even yellow. I’m not fussy. Accessorise the hell out of it. Revel in the fact that it’s your year. Cheer us up, for God’s sake. We’ve seen you in black and we know that you can do it. Now move on.

Favourite fashion moments

Hmmm, let’s see ….

Scarlett Johansson sheltering from the rain in a London mews and ending up in the showroom of Roland Mouret, becoming his muse the process. (From mews to muse – geddit?)

Matthew Williamson getting some of his pretty mates to wear his tiny first collection for London Fashion Week in 1996. His pretty mates included Kate Moss and Jade Jagger. The little jewel-coloured cardis and big hair buns were the best thing about LFW that year. Fashion heaven.

Yves Saint Laurent winning the Wool Secretariat competition in Paris aged eighteen, being brought to the attention of Christian Dior and running Dior at twenty-one.

Nan Kempner (the protagonist varies according to who you read, but I’m going with Nan) wearing one of Yves’s pant-suits to a restaurant in the Seventies and being told that women couldn’t wear trousers. So she took them off to reveal a little silk slip and walked to her table. That’s style.

John Galliano, almost bankrupt, making a whole collection out of black silk – the only fabric he could afford – and delivering it in the back of a Mini. Showing it in a decrepit Parisian mansion with top models appearing for free, as a favour. Anna Wintour loving it. A fashion god reborn.

Joan Burstein buying the whole of Galliano’s graduate collection and showing it in the windows of Browns.

Almost everyone playing ball at Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball. Magical.

Audrey Hepburn and Margot Fonteyn in anything they wore. Obvious, but nevertheless true.

Nicole Kidman in Galliano for Dior at the Oscars, raising the tone to a level from which it struggles to sink. We tend to forget the true awfulness of the big hair and trashy outfits of the eighties and early nineties. Hideous. Thank you, Nicole.

Cheryl Cole finding her style on X-Factor. Not just the clothes, but the smile, the sparkly eyes, the passion. Can anyone remember what Danni wore?