People remember Gwyneth Paltrow’s see-through, goth-inspired McQueen from the 2002 Oscars, but he also designed the gold-embroidered forest-green Givenchy gown Kate Winslet wore to the 1998 Oscars. Since the designer’s death in 2010, the fashion house — now overseen by creative director Sarah Burton of Kate Middleton wedding dress fame — has designed looks worn by the likes of Cate Blanchett at the 2014 BAFTAs and Jessica Chastain at the 2012 Oscars.
Giorgio Armani and Jodie Foster have a long-lived love affair. In addition to some of her costumes on film (he most recently designed some of the looks for last summer’s “Elysium”), he notably designed the light-pink pants suit she wore to the 1992 Oscars and her floor-length, long-sleeved beaded gown for the 1995 ceremony, among others. He also made Jessica Chastain shine in 2013 in a crystal-bedecked strapless gold gown from the Armani Prive couture collection.
Bob Mackie and Cher’s relationship dates back to “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” and includes plenty of notorious ensembles, including the midriff-baring, black-beaded number he designed for her to present the supporting actor award (and mock the Academy’s dress-code policy) at the 1986 Oscars. Author Bronwyn Cosgrave writes that Mackie created the exotic, Dorothy Lamour-inspired two-piece for Cher to wear to the 1973 awards — the same year he dressed Diana Ross in a satin trouser suit.
Jennifer Lawrence wore Dior Couture to accept her 2012 Oscar and is the face of this spring’s Miss Dior campaign, while Charlize Theron’s 2011 J’adore commercial is an award show staple for those watching at home. Before them, Celine Dion famously wore a white Dior suit jacket backward to the 1999 Oscars and Elizabeth Taylor was all floral-splattered Dior and updo in 1961 when she picked up her first Oscar (Reese Witherspoon also wore — vintage — Dior in 2006 to collect her Oscar). But perhaps most daring of all is the slinky chartreuse number former Dior creative director John Galliano designed in 1997 that helped ensure we never forget the name Nicole Kidman.
The beloved Paramount and Universal costume designer’s partnership with her femme stars extended after the films had wrapped. She designed Audrey Hepburn’s delicate feminine wardrobe for “Roman Holiday,” including the belted lace design that was adapted for the doe-eyed star to wear the night she accepted her Oscar for that role. Head also designed Grace Kelly’s ice-blue French satin Oscar dress from 1955 and Elizabeth Taylor’s voluptuous, violet chiffon from 1970 that paired with the actress’s famous eyes … and her eye shadow.
The intricate burgundy gown Halle Berry wore during her tearful 2002 Oscar acceptance speech made the Lebanese designer Elie Saab an overnight sensation. Since then, his red-carpet looks have appeared on the likes of Mila Kunis (at the 2011 Oscars), Li Bingbing (at the 2013 Golden Horse Awards), Rihanna (at the 2010 Grammy Awards) and Amy Adams (at the 2011 BAFTAs).
After wearing corsets and hoop skirts for “Gone With the Wind,” Vivien Leigh went bra-less in a red poppy-print Irene Gibbons gown to accept her lead actress Oscar in 1940, according to Bronwyn Cosgrave’s “Made for Each Other: Fashion and the Academy Awards.” Later, due to wartime regulations, Ginger Rogers accepted her lead actress Oscar in 1941 in a gray Irene Gibbons-designed gown made with black American-made lace, according to Cosgrave.
Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig’s label has been a red carpet staple since its 2004 inception. They made Hailee Steinfeld look mature, yet age-appropriate in her pastel pink princess gown in 2011 while dressing Stacy Keibler in daring gold lame at the ceremony a year later. Meanwhile, stars like Penelope Cruz can often be seen wearing their gowns in Cannes.
The Belgian fashion designer gained added recognition when Madonna wore one of his designs to the 1998 Oscars, but fashionistas also reference the canary-yellow cocktail dress he designed while overseeing fashion house Nina Ricci that a post-divorce Reese Witherspoon wore to the 2007 Golden Globes. He also created Witherspoon’s Oscar dress that year.
Italian fashion house Prada received raves for Uma Thurman’s soft, romantic lilac gown for the 1995 Oscars, even though, as author Bronwyn Cosgrave notes, “it was designed in Los Angeles by Barbara Tfank.” Also noteworthy, Meryl Streep wore this label to the 2006 Oscars — the year she was nominated for (fittingly) “The Devil Wears Prada.”
Ralph Lauren’s red carpet moments will forever be linked to the baby pink princess look Gwyneth Paltrow wore to the 1999 Oscars, but there have been other memorable dresses — such as the simple blue one Allison Williams wore to the 2013 Emmy Awards and the shimmery, bridal-like gown Taylor Swift wore to the 2010 Met Gala.
Julia Roberts made the then-unusual choice of wearing a vintage Valentino gown to accept her lead actress Oscar in 2001 and Jennifer Lopez made the unusual (for her) choice of being covered up in a mint green floor-length draped Valentino gown to the 2003 Oscars. Valentino and Anne Hathaway are usually simpatico, but she changed her gown at the last minute in 2013 when word leaked that someone else would be wearing a similar design. She ended up accepting her supporting actress Oscar in Prada.
A designer known for wedding gowns should have no problem making a statement on the red carpet. Examples include everything from the sexy (Charlize Theron’s revealing orange 2000 Oscar dress) to the vibrant (Michelle Williams’ canary yellow and Keira Knightley’s plum gowns from the 2006 ceremony) to the um, practical (the high-waisted skirt Sharon Stone paired with her then-husband’s white Gap button-down for the 1999 ceremony).
Atelier Versace designs are not meant for wallflowers. Kate Hudson’s 14-karat gold gown with the plunging neckline made her shine more than the trophies at the 2011 Oscars, while Beyonce’s sculpted black gown from the 2005 Oscars showed off her curves and Penelope Cruz’s perfectly fitted gown from the 2007 Oscars mixed a soft, blush color with an elaborate tulle-organza train. But Versace gowns can be daring without being scandalous: Angelina Jolie was slinky — but covered up — in green at the 2011 Golden Globes and Jennifer Lopez was downright girly in a pink sleeveless gown and mid-century styled hair at the 2002 Oscars (but, to be fair, Donatella Versace did design the star’s infamous “jungle dress” for the 2000 Grammy Awards).