The Academy Awards has a long reputation of being the straight-A cheerleader big sister to the Golden Globes’ more rebellious, drama club younger sibling, at least as far as its fashions are concerned. Save for some break-the-mold looks like Bjork’s infamous swan dress (and, lest we forget, its accompanying egg clutch) and Cher’s Bob Mackie headdress, the Oscars are remembered for polished jewels while the Globes are there for stars to make statements.
The go-to example for this argument is still, now over a decade later, “The Practice” star Lara Flynn Boyle’s skimpy petal pink prima ballerina faux paus from the 2003 ceremony. The get-up served its purpose; that is, it changed her narrative for the evening from solely being about her recent breakup with Jack Nicholson, who would win lead actor in a motion picture drama for “About Schmidt” (he told the Associated Press that Boyle’s Swarovski-dazzled tulle skirt and matching Chanel shoes, were “startling” and that he almost didn’t recognize her). Even David Cardona, the outfit’s designer, had his doubts. He told Yahoo! Movies that he attempted to dissuade her: “Really?” he recalled saying. “Are you sure?”
But Boyle isn’t the only one who has tried something daring at the Globes. Julia Roberts wore an oversized Giorgio Armani men’s suit that made her look like she was re-enacting the final scene of “Big” when she accepted the Golden Globe for supporting actress in a motion picture for “Steel Magnolias” in 1990. (Roberts told InStyle in 2014 that, in regards to all of her red carpet outfits, “I had a very whimsical sense of style. I clearly didn’t care what anybody thought about it.”) Never one to miss an opportunity to leave jaws dropping, Courtney Love walked the 2000 Golden Globes red carpet in a black Galliano gown with strategically placed slash marks that suggested she’d just been on the losing end of a cat fight when she was there to promote her Andy Kaufman biopic “Man on the Moon,” which was nominated for best motion picture comedy or musical.
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These ladies had something in common with Helena Bonham Carter, who showed up to the 2011 ceremony in sunglasses, an ill-fitting Vivienne Westwood gown and mismatched shoes (Perhaps this was her way to distance herself from her matriarchal character in “The King’s Speech”? She was nominated that year for the role in the supporting actress in a film category.)
Despite occurring in January, Los Angeles’ rainy and dreary season, the Globes are also often a time for skin. Kate Hudson seemed to channel her mom, Goldie Hawn, at the 2002 ceremony with a retro-style shimmery, slinky, double sided-tape-required Atelier Versace gown and hair that couldn’t have been bigger if she’d stuck her finger in a light socket. Salma Hayek and Beyonce both left little to the imagination in, respectively, a ruby Narciso Rodriguez in 2003, when she was nominated for lead actress in a dramatic film for “Frieda,” and a gold sequins Elie Saab in 2007, when she was up for lead actress in a comedy and original song for “Dreamgirls.” This trend doesn’t always work in a star’s favor (see Renee Zellweger’s see-through Carolina Herrera top and black mermaid gown from 2009).
Like so many award shows, the Globes have become more stylized over the years as the internet has made it possible for every outing to be a red-carpet extravaganza and thereby another opportunity for project synergy. Lady Gaga wore a custom-made black velvet Atelier Versace gown to the 2016 Golden Globe ceremony — not-so-coincidentally channeling Old Hollywood beauty the same year she won the lead actress in a TV miniseries or film trophy for playing an immortal vixen in FX’s “American Horror Story: Hotel.”
Lupita Nyong’o has aced the red-carpet game since her breakthrough role in the Steve McQueen film “12 Years a Slave.” In 2014, when she was nominated for a supporting actress in a film for “Slave,” she rocked a scarlet Ralph Lauren clavicle-baring gown and cape that scoffed in the general direction of Gwyneth Paltrow’s white Tom Ford gown from the 2012 Oscars. She followed it up the next year by redefining the term “floral print” thanks to a violet and ivory ombre-style Giambattista Valli gown with peony-like ruffles across the chest.
The Globes ceremony is also another opportunity to promote a cause, intentionally or otherwise. Colin Firth’s wife, Livia Giuggioli, famously wears eco-friendly designs on the red carpet through her Green Carpet Challenge — an initiative she started at the 2010 Golden Globes. And “Jane the Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez’s form-fitting ebony Badgley Mischka mermaid-style gown was such a crowd-pleaser that she couldn’t help but let a fan later wear it to prom.
But just because their outfits don’t make political statements on the red carpet, that doesn’t mean the stars’ acceptance speeches can’t — just ask Meryl Streep. She wore a black Givenchy gown notable for its fitted jacket-style top adorned with colorful jewels along the shoulders and lapel earlier this year when she made her famous remarks against Donald Trump while accepting the HFPA’s Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award. Chances are she doesn’t care if she made anyone’s best-dressed list.