AUDREY HEPBURN, 1954
Givenchy garbed Hepburn for nearly all her Oscar appearances and films, but this fresh, flower-bedecked evening gown best captured the star’s essence at the time: innocent, yet striking and sexy. The dress caught the eye of many because of the way it showed off Hepburn’s delicate shoulders.
GRACE KELLY, 1955
Kelly donned this gorgeous silk gown by Edith Head on the night she won the Best Actress Oscar for The Country Girl. At the time the dress was the most expensive in Oscar history; the material alone cost $4,000. The Oscars became a full-fledged fashion show in the 1950s, and this dress epitomized the sartorial splendor of the period.
BARBRA STREISAND, 1969
Streisand got a lot of grief for this “peek-a-boo” Scaasi, but it was a great choice for her at the time as a young and exciting actress on the rise. Streisand, who won the Best Actress Oscar for Funny Girl, was trailblazing: At the time actresses didn’t have the basic spaghetti-strap uniform they do now. The big white collar/black bow was cute and played well off her haircut.
What is the opposite of minimalism? Cher. When she won the Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck, she was at the height of her Cherness — and sheerness — in this barely-there Bob Mackie creation. With shoulder-length earrings and a sparkling butterfly pattern adorning her from the waist down, Cher looked like Cleopatra in all her exotic splendor.
UMA THURMAN, 1995
How simple can you get? This lovely lilac gown put Prada on the map when Thurman, nominated for her role in Pulp Fiction, donned it in all its elegant, uncomplicated beauty. The dress also marked the height of the minimalist movement in the fashion world.
SUSAN SARANDON, 1996
This copper ball gown by Dolce amp Gabbana swung the Oscar fashion pendulum back toward the look of more formal eveningwear. There was nothing about this dress that didn’t say “black tie.” The gown matched redheaded Saradon’s coloring, and she glowed. She looked like a winner — and she was, for Best Actress, for her work in Dead Man Walking.
SHARON STONE, 1996
Rumors raged for weeks over who would dress the stunning actress. In the end, Stone grabbed a charcoal Gap turtleneck out of her closet at the last minute and made fashion history. Paired with a Valentino trumpet skirt, the ensemble screamed cool, casual elegance. No other Oscar attendee has received so much attention for so little effort.
NICOLE KIDMAN, 1997
Kidman heated up the red carpet in this beautiful gold-green embroidered John Galliano for Christian Dior shift. It was exotic, but not over the top, and in true Kidman trend-setting style, is considered a gentle precursor to the Asian-inspired dresses that followed.
CATE BLANCHETT, 1999
Many women loved this dress because they could see themselves in it. This knitted Galliano number, which featured gorgeous embroidery of flowers and a hummingbird on the back, was stunning, but not intimidating, and Blanchett, a nominee that evening for Elizabeth, easily pulled it off. Knockoffs went on the market the very next day.
JULIA ROBERTS, 2001
With all the coverage the Oscars get, and the dozens of dresses we see at all the awards shows, it’s hard to imagine being surprised by a gown. But Roberts stunned everyone when she turned up at the 2001 Oscars in this vintage Valentino, looking every bit the screen goddess. It was chock-full of that favorite staple: old-fashioned Hollywood glamor.