From year to year, it’s hard to remember which movies or actors win Oscars. But one thing we can’t forget is the fashions – the ones that make us swoon in admiration, and the ones that make us gasp in horror. With our panel of fashion school experts, let’s take a look back at past Academy Award ceremonies, and remember the red carpet gowns that made even bigger headlines than the winners.
Nicole Kidman, 1996. Before she strode down the red carpet in her Chinese-inspired gown by John Galliano for Dior, Kidman was known primarily as Tom Cruise’s wife. But it all changed that night. No one had ever worn chartreuse before. No one had worn an Asian cheongsam. No one even noticed Cruise.
Gwyneth Paltrow, 1999. Winning as Best Actress for Shakespeare in Love, Paltrow was the belle of the ball in her pink Ralph Lauren. Some fashion critics thought it was too big for her, but when she glided across the stage to accept her Oscar, she looked like Hollywod royalty.
Elizabeth Taylor, 1970. In a violet blue Edith Head creation that matched her eyes, Taylor stole the show; but it wasn’t just for the dress. She was also wearing a 69-carat Cartier diamond around her neck.
Halle Berry 2002. Berry’s burgundy gown by Elie Saab, with its tulle top and silk embroidery, was one of those dresses that redefined Oscar fashion design. This was not just another beautiful dress, but a fresh new look that has been endlessly copied since.
Lizzy Gardiner, 1995. The Oscar-winning costume designer for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert created a gown for herself made of 254 American Express Gold Cards. It is probably the only dress with an intentional sense of humor that has been widely admired as well.
Julia Roberts 2001. When America’s sweetheart won her Oscar for Erin Brockavich, she wore a black vintage Valentino with white trim that made her a winner before her name was even called. Pretty woman, indeed.
Sharon Stone, 1996. One of the most polarizing looks ever, Stone paired a black mock turtleneck tee from the Gap with a Valentino skirt. While some felt the actress was mocking Oscar fashions, others felt she showed innovation. This wasn’t the first time Stone had shown a flair for combining a closet basic with a designer piece. In 1999, she topped a Vera Wang skirt with a white dress shirt of her husband’s.
Audrey Hepburn, 1954. Before the days of red carpet paparazzi, Academy Award fashions were not that well documented. It’s a testament to the beauty of Hepburn’s belted, floral dress by Givenchy that it remains one of Oscar’s most timeless gowns.
Cher, 1986. Cher joked that she had read Oscar’s manual on how to dress like a serious actress when she donned a midriff-baring Bob Mackie number with a voluminous black, feathered headdress. Say what you will about her fashion choices, our fashion college experts agree that Cher makes watching the Oscars fun.