The red carpet's best in show.

By Degen Pener and Clarissa Cruz
April 05, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST



BERRY PRETTY DESIGNER Elie Saab WHY IT WORKED With its mix of color and exposure, Berry’s dress was a coup for her and Saab, a Beirut-based designer who is a newcomer to Oscar. FUN FACT Just so John Ashcroft wouldn’t blush, Saab and stylist Phillip Bloch added an extra leaf to the dress’ beaded top.


NIGHT CAP DESIGNER Valentino WHY IT WORKED Witherspoon avoided the ”too mature” trap with a cap-sleeve dress and a Grace Kelly coif. FUN FACT Despite the couple’s barbed onstage banter, hairstylist Anne Morgan says, ”Ryan [Phillippe] was like, ‘This is the prettiest you’ve ever looked.”’


THINK PINK DESIGNER Chanel WHY IT WORKED ”I didn’t want to wear black again. I wanted something light and airy. I feel joyful,” said Kidman, who was an ethereal presence in floaty pink chiffon, which blended with her skin tone on TV but was stunning live. FUN FACT Every element was custom-made, including her rough-diamond necklace (made to Nicole’s specifications by Bulgari) and her pink bag (initialed by Chanel with the letters NK).


IN THE RED DESIGNER Ben de Lisi WHY IT WORKED From the upswept hair to the matched Christian Louboutin bag and shoes, Winslet, who has scoffed at Hollywood beauty, epitomized fresh, fuss-free glamour. FUN FACT Winslet chose red — one of the few stars to do so — because she ”tend[s] to wear a lot of black” and wanted a change. And despite being a three-time Oscar nominee, she admitted she was ”petrified and frightened” from the moment she woke up.


WHITE QUEEN DESIGNER Giorgio Armani WHY IT WORKED In her creamy satin beaded ensemble and chic blond bob, Mirren bore no resemblance to her dour Oscar-nominated character — and showed that sexy doesn’t automatically mean skimpy. FUN FACT In keeping with the Gosford Park theme, Mirren paired her outfit with a diamond-and-platinum leaf brooch and diamond-and-platinum bracelet from the 1930s, both by Fred Leighton.


BALL BEARING DESIGNER Carolina Herrera WHY IT WORKED Zellweger was the one actress to perfectly capture old-Hollywood glamour. Her midnight organza gown (completed after fittings in NYC, Toronto, and L.A.) was elegant, while her cascading diamond earrings were an unexpected choice. ”Renee never wears big jewelry,” says Harry Winston’s Carol Brodie-Gelles. ”That was a big deal for her.” FUN FACT Zellweger danced to ABBA while dressing at her L.A. home.


A CUT ABOVE DESIGNER Giorgio Armani WHY IT WORKED The racy, strategically placed cutouts livened up the sleek dress — and Roberts gets extra points for not flashing onlookers, even when she squatted on the floor in the middle of the Governors Ball to better hear her cell-phone conversation. FUN FACT After whittling it down to five possibilities, Roberts settled on the black gown on Thursday. ”She loves Armani, and it felt comfortable,” says her rep.