(USA TODAY) -- Oscar gowns thread their way through popular culture long after thelast acceptance speech. There are the immediate knock-off dresses, ofcourse. But the lasting influence lingers in more subtle ways, in theform of shape, structure and shade.
An Oscar nominee doesn't "look good because they're wearing Oscar" de la Renta, says InStyleeditor at large Hal Rubenstein. "They look good because of a certaindetail," whether it's a strapless neckline or three-quarter sleeve."Those are the elements that become influential to the consumer. Thenthe consumer takes it to a shop in their price point and finds someresonance."
"It's less about, 'Ooh, I want that dress from X celeb,' and more about the vibe," says Seventeen fashion director Gina Kelly.
Here's a look at how the Academy Awards red carpet has turned up in the closets of teens, twentysomethings and beyond:
Kim Basinger's now-iconic 1998 pistachio gown, worn when shenabbed the best-supporting-actress trophy, not only put Escada in theeveningwear business, says Brian Rennie, who was the label's designer atthe time. Thanks to Basinger's victory, dramatically and sartorially,the company stuck its stiletto into the bridal business as well, makingthree versions of Basinger's dreDss in white - one in lace, oneembroidered and one solid - at the request of brides. Escada stitched upthe gown in about five colors and sold 30 to 35 of them at $3,500 to$4,000 each, vs. $7,000, which is about what Basinger's cost. "It was astyle a lot of people could wear and be flattering," says SusanAshbrook, who helped orchestrate the Basinger-Escada marriage.
Whenit comes to Gwyneth Paltrow's plethora of Oscar appearances,conventional wisdom points to her 1999 bubblegum pink Ralph Lauren dressas her fashion apex, and certainly, the fairy-tale frock spawned aswath of similar confections during the following prom seasons, saysKelly. But Rubenstein points to another big influencer: her pale CalvinKlein slip dress from 1996. "Suddenly, everyone looked overdressed," hesays. That deceptively simple gown "had a lot to do with the rise ofminimalism in fashion in the '90s."
David Meister's phone rangwith requests after Diane Lane walked the 2008 Academy Awards carpet in achocolate, one-shouldered jersey gown with beading at the waist. So hedid a version of it for his regular line, for around $600. "If we tweakit a little" - using a similar fabric but less opulent embellishments,for instance - "we can make it a little more accessible to ourcustomer," Meister says. His "signature" collection, on the other hand,goes for $1,500 to $5,000.
Designers are responding to the bevy ofblush and the riot of red over the past two years - think of HalleBerry wrapped in Marchesa in the former and Jennifer Lawrence sheathedin Calvin Klein in the latter. "They were all wearing red, so we said,'We have to do red,' " says Sheri Simon, who works in sales for one ofthe queens of the prom market, New York-based Jovani. As a result, thecompany ratcheted up its red repertoire from around 10 to 50 styles.
Itwas an even more dramatic story with blush: Jovani used to carry maybetwo gowns in the subtle shade, and now it offers about 100. "That trendhas really taken off," Simon says.
For its just-launched firstprom collection, British-based Oasis soaked up the saturated color of,for instance, Michelle Williams' 2006 canary Vera Wang column, "which weknow our customer loves - whether that be royal blue, coral pink oremerald green," says the brand's design director, Clive Reeve.
The2010-11 Oscar red carpets provided ample altar inspiration for DanRentillo of David's Bridal. There was Hailee Steinfeld's Marchesaprincess dress, but also Scarlett Johansson's lacy, open-back Dolce& Gabbana and Demi Moore's cascading cream Versace. "We wereinspired by the soft, uneven ruffles, but in our interpretation, wewanted the skirt fuller and more bridal," Rentillo says about Moore'sgown. And then there was Rachel McAdams in strapless, romantic,watercolor-patterned Elie Saab. "We thought, 'A bride in a print? Whynot?' So we created a print in a more subdued shade of colors that ismore bridal-appropriate. The customer loved it." Indeed, all of theaforementioned were best sellers for the company.
Sometimes,inspiration resonates more profoundly than patterns and pump styles.Take Octavia Spencer's red-carpet sweep in Tadashi Shoji last year."She's not a fashion girl," says Rubenstein. "She's a larger-sized womanwho looked beautiful, elegant and glorious the entire award season,especially at the Oscars," where she wore white gathered midwaist. "Itwas a great object lesson on how to dress beautiful, whether you'regoing to a wedding or a Christmas party," Rubenstein says. "Looking goodisn't about being a size 0 or being 5-foot-10."
And there wasViola Davis, who famously doffed her wig and paired her emerald VeraWang gown with her natural short hair. "She looked new and fresh,"Rubenstein says. "The power of Viola's appearance was about notconforming to a norm. Individuality and pride are as essential to awoman's beauty as the right makeup and wardrobe."
Rubenstein calls both looks red-carpet watershed moments, "definitely."
And what about the future? What trends seen so far during this awards season will translate to next year's prom racks?
Yes, girls will continue to paint the gym "red, crimson and scarlet," says Teen Vogue'ssenior fashion news director, Jane Keltner de Valle. (Thank you,Lawrence, for repeating the hue in Dior Couture at this year's GoldenGlobes.) But Keltner de Valle also envisions a softer shade tricklingdown to the prom dress market: Jessica Chastain's seafoam, constructedby Calvin Klein for the Globes.
"It's a color we haven't seen fora long time, but it has a classic, timeless quality to it, and it's notas in-your-face as red. It was a favorite color of Grace Kelly's," saysKeltner de Valle.
Ariel Winter's Valentino Globes dress wasn'tthe only winning component of her outfit: "Her styling was also spot on -the updo with a jeweled headband made the whole look sparkle andshine," says Keltner de Valle. "In terms of accessory and beauty trends,I think that's something that will translate at prom. Headbands areback in a big way."
Kelly sees girls embracing idol Taylor Swift'sfishtail silhouette, created by Donna Karan Atelier for the Globes."And the deep plum color is a nice alternative to black." Her otherGlobes prognostications for prom: Amanda Seyfried in Givenchy HauteCouture. "Girls love romantic lace for prom, but this shape makes itmore modern." And Jessica Alba in tangerine-tinted Oscar de la Renta:"Bold citrus colors will be big."
At the Grammys? The sheer panelson Rihanna's red vintage Azzedine Alaia dress "will definitely becopied," Kelly says. "It's both demure and sexy."