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Oscar gowns in the spotlight at MFA

The dress worn by Cate Blanchett at the 1999 Academy Awards is on display at the MFA, along with Oscar outfits of Barbra Streisand and Kate Capshaw. The dress worn by Cate Blanchett at the 1999 Academy Awards is on display at the MFA, along with Oscar outfits of Barbra Streisand and Kate Capshaw. (Michael Caulfield/AP/File)
By Christopher Muther
Globe Staff / February 24, 2011

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The closest that most of us get to those stunning, sparkling red carpet Oscar gowns is the flat screen TV in our living rooms. But that also means enduring Ryan Seacrest’s celebrity banter on E!. Through March 7, the Museum of Fine Arts gives patrons an opportunity to see four classic Oscar dresses in person — no banter necessary. The museum is displaying Oscar gowns and garb once worn by Barbra Streisand, Cate Blanchett, and Kate Capshaw. Streisand’s tulle, sequin-covered bell-bottom pantsuit, designed by Arnold Scaasi, is perhaps the most notorious of the bunch. In 1969, as Streisand collected her statue for “Funny Girl,’’ it appeared that she was nude under the sheer suit. In an interview with The Boston Globe two years ago, Scaasi explained that the pantsuit was fully lined, but the bright lights gave the appearance of skin. Also on display is Streisand’s less flashy, pink empire-waisted 1970 Scaasi Oscar dress. You can also see Blanchett’s gown from 1999, a sexy, elegant hummingbird dress created by John Galliano, and Capshaw’s daring, skin-tight black Hervé Léger bandage dress from 1993. It’s a rare opportunity to examine the craftsmanship that goes into these gowns at close proximity. You can find Capshaw and Blanchett’s dresses at the Museum’s Fenway entrance; the Streisand ensembles are on display in the Scaasi exhibition.