Dazzling display of fashion lights up a rain-soaked night

The umbrellas were out, the red carpet was soggy but there was nothing damp or limp about the fashion at this year's Golden Globes as gloriously vibrant colour made a welcome return to statement dressing.

Purple stood out most vividly against the gloomy skies, and was the choice of Best Actress winner Sandra Bullock in a sheer and shiny Bottega Veneta gown. Singer Fergie looked elegant in lavender strapless Elie Saab, while British pop princess Leona Lewis stepped out in an impressive but sadly creased purple satin dress by Roberto Cavalli.

The Golden Globes is the first opportunity to see how new season catwalk collections will unfold, and it's clear sugared almond shades of pale pink, lilac and peach will dominate the spring/summer palette.

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Emily Blunt was deemed to be the best-dressed Brit in her dreamy light pink Dolce and Gabbana gown, Maggie Gyllenhaal impressed in a peach Roland Mouret one-shoulder gown, Chloe Sevigny chose pale lilac Valentino ruffles, and Drew Barrymore drew gasps in her blush Versace gown, although some were baffled by what seemed to be glittery hedgehogs crawling over her shoulder and hip.

Not everyone can wear sugar-sweet tones, however, and Nicole Kidman appeared gaunt in satin Nina Ricci, while Mad Men's Christina Hendricks looked pneumatic in her sculpted Christian Siriano gown but the pale colour worked against her and the overall effect was of too much flesh.

She wasn't alone, as this year's rain-washed Globes became the arena for a surprising amount of cleavage display, particularly by Mariah Carey in an eye-poppingly plunging Herve Leger by Max Azria dress. The usually demure Jennifer Aniston also raised eyebrows in a skimpy black Valentino number that flashed both cleavage and thigh.

Black gowns were worn to striking effect by Heather Graham, classy in Elie Saab, and by Courteney Cox Arquette in a strapless dress by Victoria Beckham. Penelope Cruz and Sophia Loren also picked black.

Kate Winslet stuck with her signature look in a midnight-blue Yves Saint Laurent asymmetric dress, while Marion Cotillard smouldered in deep green Christian Dior.

Despite the recession, jewellery featured strongly with statement diamond pieces , although the must-have accessory of the night was the red and yellow ribbon worn in aid of the disaster in Haiti.