Best Oscar Fashion Of The Last Decade
February 24th, 2013 8:20am EST
The Academy Awards have always been the pinnacle of yearly fashion, an opportunity for the world’s most glamorous stars to slip into something silky and ham it up for cameras. Since the first annual instance of the event in 1929, the show has evolved from a moderate dinner party into an elaborate red carpet extravaganza. Who could forget some of Oscars showiest red carpet moments, from Cher’s feathered headgear and strappy leather get-up, to Bjork’s swan dress, to Gwyneth Paltrow’s elegant pink Calvin Klein? The last ten years have been decidedly less insane, but several stars have still made powerful fashion statements in their garb. Here are our picks for the best Oscar looks of the last decade.
10. Cate Blanchett in Givenchy Couture, 2011
No one does sophistication quite like Australian behemoth Cate Blanchett. Always eager to take a risk, her red carpet looks have been as sharply dramatic as her award-winning acting. This soft pink beaded gown is more like a piece of art than a dress, with its intricate chest plate and gold accents. Cate kept her hair, jewelry and make-up low-key and the let the true beauty of the dress speak for itself. Try picturing anyone else pulling off this dress. Bet you can’t.
9. Rachel McAdams in Elie Saab, 2010
Decidedly more demure than Blanchett’s showstopper, this draped watercolor dress by Elie Saab is still gorgeous, even in its simplicity. Call it the perfect marriage of dress and face: no other look has captured Rachel McAdams’ edgy sweetness quite like this. The tight bodice and flowing skirt gave a Vienna-esque illusion as McAdams swooped down the red carpet like a gondola on the river. Like Blanchett’s look before, the lack of jewelry helped accentuate the unique beauty of Saab’s dress.
8. Jessica Chastain in Alexander McQueen, 2012
Jessica Chastain was more than just a blip on the radar when she arrived at the 84th Annual Academy Awards. She was a movie star ready for her big moment. After a breakthrough year in movies like The Tree of Life and Take Shelter, Chastain capped it off with her Oscar nominated turn in the big-screen adaptation of The Help. After some rocky red carpet missteps all year, this dress felt like a revelation. Here she was at long last: Jessica Chastain, superstar. The gold detailing kept the black gown from veering into heavy territory, and the choice to let her trademark gold locks flow freestyle was an inspired one. She’s never looked better.
7. Charlie Theron in Gucci, 2004
Charlize Theron has worn plenty of gorgeous gowns since her career kicked into gear in the late 90s, but it was this slinky Gucci number that solidified her as a bonafide fashionista. After shedding the pounds she gained to portray serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, Theron was ready to show off her long, tan limbs and debut her new platinum bob. She’d go on to win a Best Actress statue that night, but it’s her revival of old school Hollywood glamor that we remember about that year's show.
6. Zoe Saldana in Givenchy Couture, 2010
Cookier than your average Oscar dress, this shocking purple number kept eyebrows raised and tongues wagging. It seems a love it or hate it look (some bloggers gasped, others gagged). But the overall effect is almost indisputable: It’s hard to look away. It’s the first big statement dress of the 2010s, and Saldana wore it with just enough gusto and verve to keep it from looking silly.
5. Angelina Jolie in Marc Bouwer, 2004
Sure, she’s more synonymous with her loopy goth get-up from a few years previous, or even her leg-popping black gown later on, but nothing says classic Jolie like this slinky white Marc Bouwer dress. It manages to be both daringly sexy and tastefully elegant all at once, the perfect frame for her bold facial features and storybook tattoos.
4. Keira Knightley in Vera Wang, 2006
Best known for her damsel-in-distress role in the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean films, Keira Knightley wasn’t considered much of a serious actress until her turn in Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice. In 2006, the Academy honored her with a nomination in the Best Actress category for her work in the film. And she showed up looking every bit the part of newfangled grown-up movie star. The maroon dress, with its mermaid-like burst at the knees, got everyone talking. She chose to accent it with an attention-grabbing necklace and ring, which somehow added oomph without detracting from Wang’s structured tiers.
3. Jennifer Lawrence in Calvin Klein, 2011
Before she was Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, she was Ree Dolly, the feisty teenager the center of Debra Granik’s pseudo-noir drama Winter’s Bone, for which she nabbed a Best Actress nomination. Most people wouldn’t know her name until 2012, but this skin-tight ensemble made a strong first impression about what sort of lady this Jennifer Lawrence could be. Part Jessica Rabbit, part Baywatch, the dress isn’t forgiving in the slightest. It’s bold and sexy, but still young and flirtatious. And Lawrence’s humble good looks and stacked bod lent themselves to its message: I’m here to stay and don’t you forget it. So far, we haven't.
2. Marion Cotillard in Jean Paul Gautier, 2008
Like Jennifer, no one knew much about Marion Cotillard the year she turned up at the Oscars. The French import had just delivered a staggering performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, but without an A-list status, no one could have anticipated the sort of natural glamor she'd bring to the red carpet that night. Looking every bit a sultry French movie star, her Jean Paul Gautier gown had everything going against it. Shiny faux-scales? Check. An odd, off-white glean? Check. But Cotillard stillnailed it. Her one-shoulder hairdo and draping necklaces somehow beefed up what could have been a laughably bizarre dress into something that bites. Add in her lovely charm (Google her Best Actress acceptance speech if you want a good cry) and hauntingly deep eyes, and you’ve got total package material on your hands.
1. Michelle Williams in Vera Wang, 2006
Before Brokeback Mountain, Michelle Williams was best known for her work on the WB soap opera Dawson’s Creek. But her supporting role opposite real-life boyfriend Heath Ledger in the gay cowboy love story made her a star, and this dress certainly helped. She singlehandedly laid to rest the myth that blondes can’t wear yellow when she showed up that night, overshadowing the famous Australian actor on her arm. And the bright red lips, side hair-knot and spiky silver necklace were lovely brushstrokes. The look serves as a haunting reminder of the sorrow soon to come: Ledger died of an accidental overdose a few years later, shortly after the birth of the couple’s daughter, Matilda. But Williams’ career would flourish, with two Best Actress nominations in the years since. Still, it’s hard to see this dress and not dream about a world where Williams and Ledger can still walk hand-in-hand down the red carpet in a haze of romantic bliss that no flashbulb can penetrate. A good dress is an emblem. This dress is a piece of history.
Related: Angelina Jolie, Cate Blanchett, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Keira Knightley, Marion Cotillard, Michelle Williams, Rachel McAdams, Zoe Saldana, Starpulse Exclusives, Fashion, Celebrity, Red Carpet Events, Awards, Oscars
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