Clandestine meetings. unspeakable turmoil. murderous rage. No, it’s not the plot of In the Bedroom; it’s the annual Oscar fashion circus. This year’s ceremony is shaping up to be one of the most stylish in recent memory, with glamour girls like Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, Jennifer Connelly, and Renée Zellweger among the golden hopefuls. And those are just the nominees. Perennial fashion plates Uma Thurman and Jada Pinkett Smith will be accompanying their nominated better halves, while Julia Roberts, Marcia Gay Harden, and Gwyneth Paltrow are among the chic presenters.
”Nominees alone, you’ve got four of the most glamorous women in the business, which never happens,” says Berry’s stylist, Phillip Bloch. ”Every year, there’s the One everybody wants. There was Gwyneth, then there was Hilary [Swank]. This year it’s very spread out.”
Meanwhile, the studios seem to be spread thin. During the recession, fashion and beauty mavens – typically paid by the stars’ studios for Oscar-night services – are being squeezed harder than a ”Moulin Rouge” corset. ”Budgets are really tighter since Sept. 11,” says makeup artist Laura Mercier, who prettified Zellweger for last year’s Oscars. She admits to occasionally splitting her fee between a studio and a celebrity if the studio isn’t able to pay the full charge. (A makeup artist can command from $2,000 to $6,000 a night; hair stylists average about $3,000.)