Cate Blanchett is known as well for her Oscar-winning acting talent as she is for the beautiful red carpet gowns she wears to accept her many, many awards. But there was one particularly memorable gown that put her on the map, fashionwise — her showstopping John Galliano gown from the 1999 Oscars.
Blanchett picked the royal purple color, while Galliano came up with the idea to create a tattoo-looking effect using sheer tulle and appliqués of flowers and a hummingbird to adorn her nearly-bare back. And as soon as the flashbulbs caught sight of the elegant embroidery, a major moment in Oscars history was made.
The star was there on the occasion of first-ever Oscar nomination, for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I of England in Elizabeth. And though Gwyneth Paltrow walked away with the top honors, Blanchett had a victory of her own: The piece was reportedly auctioned off for $27,487 and can now be found at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Six years later, Blanchett went on to win her first Academy Award (for The Aviator), and she had a golden dress to match her shiny new hardware. The best supporting actress wore a one-shoulder yellow taffeta Valentino gown with a dark burgundy bow at the waist and Lorraine Schwartz brooch on the shoulder.
And though she’s known for taking fashion risks, this one was a little outside of her comfort zone. “I never wear yellow,” she said on the red carpet. “But I saw this and liked it.” She went on to gush about Valentino’s work, saying, “I chose the colors and he made it. He’s the genius, not me.”
Valentino told People that the color was perfect for her big night. “I think the color is a very special yellow,” he said back in 2005. “With yellow, one can think about something very strong, something very, very solar. This one is much more subdued, pale yellow and very, very soft. So I think that is great for her skin.”
When she was asked if she had a certain inspiration for the look, Blanchett said, “No, I just wanted to be comfortable.”
When she was nominated again, in 2007, Blanchett went for a more streamlined silhouette, choosing a dazzling Giorgio Armani Privé. The one-shoulder dress earned a People Style nod for ‘Best Dressed’ of the night.
RELATED VIDEO: The Women of Oscars: Nominees Ask Nominees
Even in 2008, just a few months away from giving birth to son Ignatius, the Oscar-nominated Blanchett did not compromise her fashion sense, choosing a purple satin Dries Van Noten gown (complemented by a Lorraine Schwartz diamond-and-emerald necklace) that would have earned a “best of the night” even without her noticeable “accessory.” But Blanchett said style came second to practicality: “I didn’t know what size I was going to be! It’s unpredictable, being pregnant,” the expecting mom told In Style.
Then for her most recent Oscar nomination (and win!) for Blue Jasmine in 2014, the star wore a glamorous Armani Privé gown, worth a reported $100,000 (which she then topped with a reported $18 million in Chopard jewels). So who deserves the credit? “It was Mr. Armani,” Blanchett told PEOPLE in 2014. “It was between Mr. Armani, Mr. Armani and Mr. Armani. It was between three dresses and I made the decision 10 minutes before I left.”
So what will Cate sport on this year’s red carpet?
— Blake Bakkila