Oscar Dresses: Where Are They Now?

Dianne Wiest’s 1987 Donald Brooks

Black velvet ballgown with satin sleeves

Collection of the actress

Dianne Wiest’s 1995 Donna Karan

Black taffeta ballgown with tulle underlayer and velvet shawl

Collection of the actress

Dianne Wiest’s daughter Emily, 12 (far left), can’t wait until she has someplace to wear the romantic velvet ballgown her mom wore when she received her first Best Supporting Actress award (for the Woody Allen comedy Hannah and Her Sisters) in 1987. “She’d like to wear it now,” says Wiest, 54. “I’m sure she’s thinking of it for her prom.” But the actress admits that not everyone loved the Donald Brooks design at the time. “Woody hated it!” she says with a laugh. “He said, ‘You can’t wear that! It’s got those poufy sleeves!’ ” Still, Wiest says, she “felt like a princess” in the gown, and, as designer Brooks points out, “it brought with it good luck for her.” So, apparently, did the Donna Karan ensemble Wiest wore eight years later to pick up her second Best Supporting Actress Oscar (for Allen’s Bullets over Broadway). She says she’s saving that one for her younger daughter, Lily, 8 (center). “Someone asked for the dresses for charity, but I said, ‘No, I have two dresses and two daughters. If I had a third, I’d give it!’ ”

Sigourney Weaver’s 1998 Prada

Sleeveless aubergine silk-taffeta evening dress

Collection of Kevin Kladakis

Sitting in the audience at Christie’s auction house in New York City during last year’s high-profile sell-off of Oscar dresses for AIDS research;, Kevin Kladakis (left) was starting to think he didn’t have a chance at a gown. “The bidding was fierce,” says the Tampa real estate developer, who had hoped to buy a frock to use as a fund-raising tool for charities in his hometown. But when the Prada design that Sigourney Weaver had worn as a presenter at the 1998 Academy Awards came on the block, Kladakis, 35, caught a break. “The dress hadn’t been in the catalog,” he notes, “so people bidding by phone couldn’t see it.” Despite similar gowns going for as much as $75,000, Kladakis nabbed Weaver’s outfit—plus a matching stole and shoes—for just $4,035. Since then the dress, which he keeps in a rented storage room, has proved a huge attraction at Tampa fund-raisers. “In a place where one doesn’t normally see celebrities,” says Mary Ann Green, community relations coordinator for the Tampa ADDS Network, “this is the next best thing.”

Whoopi Goldberg’s 1993 unattributed design

Purple-and-green silk bolero jacket and

skirt over matching lace jumpsuit

Collection of the actress, on loan to Planet Hollywood, New York City

Whoopi Goldberg’s 1996 Donna Karan

Black satin dress and velvet overcoat

Collection of the actress, on loan to Planet Hollywood, Orlando

What goes with a bright purple-and-green bolero jacket and jumpsuit? How about a burger and a side of fries? Two years after Whoopi Goldberg donned the electric ensemble to introduce a clip of Best Picture nominee Howards End at the 1993 Academy Awards, the actress shipped it to the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain for display. The outfit—which Goldberg purchased at a Beverly Hills boutique—now hangs in a Plexiglas case above a table in the New York City branch (top, right). “It’s a dress she’s proud of,” explains Paul Chemus, the chain’s memorabilia curator. “She wanted the public to be able to see it and enjoy it up close.” But patrons don’t have co come all the way to Manhattan for a brush with Oscar style. In 1996, Goldberg—a Planet Hollywood founding shareholder—loaned the restaurant chain the black satin Donna Karan dress and velvet overcoat (right) she wore to host the 1996 Academy Awards ceremony. That outfit now adorns the main entrance of the Orlando branch. “We get a terrific response to the dress,” says manager Mark Ehrli. “People crowd around the display on any given night and talk about how they remember her wearing it.”

Susan Sarandon’s 1996 Dolce & Gabbana

Copper satin ballgown

Collection of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

When the Costume Institute at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art staged the exhibit “Our New Clothes: Acquisitions of the 1990s” last spring, outfits worn by Princess Diana and Nancy Reagan had their admirers. But it was the Dolce & Gabbana gown Susan Sarandon donned the night of her Oscar win for Dead Man Walking—-and later donated to the museum—-that caught nearly everybody’s eye. “People would ‘ooh’ and ‘aah,’ ” recalls institute senior research assistant Amy Beil. “They’d say, ‘I remember that dress!’ ” The gown, in the same shade of copper as Sarandon’s hair, “was our vision of how a modern, attractive woman should look for such a special evening,” says designer Stefano Gabbana. But Myra Walker, the institute’s acting associate curator, says the dress—-which between exhibits is kept in climate-controlled storage tucked away in an acid-free box—-also provides a nod to the past. “It’s an excellent example,” she says, “of the return to glamor and elegance.”

Barbara Stanwyck’s 1982 Nolan Miller

Beaded silk dress

Collection of Nolan Miller

In 1982, when Barbara Stanwyck received an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, “she was thrilled and couldn’t believe it was happening,” recalls Howard W. Koch, the show’s producer that year. A few days after the event, Stanwyck—the star of classic films like Double Indemnity and Stella Dallas—made an unexpected gift of her own. The actress, who died in 1990, returned the red beaded gown she’d worn that night to designer Nolan Miller (right). “In those days actresses still paid for their clothes,” says Miller, who keeps the frock in mothballs in his L.A. warehouse. “But she said, ‘The dress is so pretty, why don’t you take it?’ She used to call the Oscars ‘a $5,000 night’ because she had to buy a dress she could never wear again.”

Marlee Matlin’s 1987 Theoni Aldredge

Lavender lace and silk gown

Collection of Libby Matlin

At 21, Marlee Matlin had an Academy Award (Best Actress in 1987 for Children of a Lesser God)—but nowhere to put it or the Theoni Aldredge dress she wore on Oscar night. “She didn’t have her own place,” explains Matlin’s mother, Libby (right), a homemaker. So Marlee stashed both mementos at her parents’ suburban Chicago house. Matlin, now 34 and living in L.A. with her husband, Kevin Grandalski, who works in law enforcement, and daughter Sarah Rose, 4, has since reclaimed her statue. The gown, however, still hangs in her father Don’s closet, “along with her prom dress,” Libby reports. “My mom and I have an unofficial arrangement,” says Matlin. “I keep the Oscar and she keeps the dress. She takes it out every once in a while and shows it off.” Just not too often. “I can’t put it on display,” says Libby, with a laugh. “She’d have my head!”

Geena Davis’s 1999 Randolph Duke

Pavé beaded and chiffon gown

Collection of Randolph Duke

“I call this the Geena dress,” says designer Randolph Duke (left) of the sleek, smoke-colored gown hanging in a plastic bag on a dry-cleaning rack in his Manhattan workshop. Shortly before last year’s Academy Awards, actress Geena Davis and her stylist, Vivian Turner, visited Duke in his Los Angeles showroom to look through his latest collection for something the actress could wear to introduce a dance performance at the ceremony. “This dress stood out,” Turner says. “There was nothing like it.” Or like Davis in it. “Every time she put it on, she did a little harem wiggle, like a silent movie star,” recalls Duke. “The dress looked just completely elegant and unusual on her.” After a flurry of post-Oscar interest, it’s now a style others can copy. Duke added the dress to his ready-to-wear line, where it sells for $3,250 at department stores. “Inspiring all women to want to look like goddesses,” he says, “is; the ultimate aim.”

Gloria Stuart’s 1998 Escada

Blue satin couture evening suit

Collection of the actress

As Gloria Stuart learned after receiving a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Titanic, being a movie star has its perks. First Harry Winston loaned her a 15-carat, $20 million blue diamond necklace to wear to the ceremony, then the design house Escada gave her a custom-made satin evening ensemble that matched the color of the gem. “It was one of the most amazing experiences,” says the actress’s daughter Sylvia Thompson, a writer. Today, though, the skirt looks like it survived the Titanic. Stuart kept it in a storeroom at her Los Angeles home, where a rodent “tore apart the whole bottom,” the actress says with a sigh. Fortunately, Stuart wasn’t planning on wearing it again—”I could wear it as a tea-length skirt,” she notes, “but I don’t want to”—and says she will eventually donate the two-piece outfit to charity. And though she lost out to Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential), the 89-year-old actress still cherishes her Oscar memories. “I felt euphoric that night,” she says. “It was what I had always wished for—and finally achieved.”

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