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On Oscar red carpet, fewer jewels make stars shine

Date February 23, 2012

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - For weeks, Hollywood's actresses fret over what gowns to wear on the Oscar's red carpet, but choosing the right dress is only half the battle. Finding the right accessory is crucial.

Pick the wrong necklace, earrings or bracelet, and the star risks looking incomplete or, worse yet, becomes talked about for all the wrong reasons by fashion police watching one of the world's biggest catwalks.

And this year, contrary to what one might think about the glitzy Hollywood affair, wearing the right accessories doesn't always mean dripping in diamonds, the experts say.

"Jewelry should be minimalistic - the dress should be the 'celebrity,' so to speak," said fashion designer Allen B. Schwartz.

Sandra Bullock stunned in her gold beaded Marchesa gown with an embroidered bodice when she won best actress in 2010. She capped the look by wearing delicate diamond drop earrings and bracelet, along with a silver clutch. The accessories served to highlight her shimmering gown and radiant face without overpowering the actress, making Bullock appear polished and every inch the Hollywood movie star she is.

"We're moving towards a very minimal period of accessorization," said designer Marc Bouwer. "If people are going to wear something, it's going to be one strong piece or almost nothing at all."

Yet that one strong piece can spell disaster if paired with the wrong dress. Earlier this month at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, some fashionistas put Kristen Wiig on their worst-dressed lists not because there was anything wrong with her halter-neck Balenciaga gown, but because of the awkward Fred Leighton choker she paired with it. The chunky black rhinestone piece seemed distracting and out of place, completely overshadowing anything else Wiig wore.

MINIMAL FUSS

Francois Ortarix, head of public relations for French jeweler Swarovski International, predicts lots of chandelier earrings and cuffs on Oscar Sunday. Because fashion trends seem to be pointing to dresses with bold colors and minimal fuss in design, Ortarix said "you can wear astonishing earrings no matter if your hair is worn up or down."

Earrings, with their close proximity to the eyes, also serve to light up the face, he added. And with more focus on earrings this year, where won't be too much jewelry on the neckline.

"Its minimalist on the neck, with lots of shine on the face," he said.

Swarovski's handbags have been used this awards season by Emily Blunt, Glenn Close and French actress Berenice Bejo of "The Artist." Octavia Spencer has worn Swarovsky jewelry to multiple events this season already.

The jeweler's Hollywood connection goes as far back as "The Wizard of Oz" film when the company crystallized the famed red ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the film. More recent, the black tutu worn by Natalie Portman in last year's hit movie "Black Swan" was studded with Swarovski crystals.

For Ortarix an Oscar high point came in 2008 when French actress Marion Cotillard won the best actress Oscar for "La Vie En Rose" and was carrying a Swarovski handbag.

"Overnight she went from being a beautiful and nice French actress to an international star," said Ortarix. And all the time, she looked the part.

(Reporting By Zorianna Kit; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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