Penélope Cruz (2007)
The Academy Awards are a place for honoring drama, both onscreen and off — especially in the form of Cruz’s gorgeous Atelier Versace gown with its elaborately feathered train.
Michelle Williams (2006)
This mustard-hued, beautifully pleated and tucked Vera Wang swept away any trace of doubt that the former Dawson’s Creek star could make the switch from the small screen to the big time.
Renée Zellweger (2001)
With this Jean Desses find from Lily Et Cie, the actress introduced vintage style (and lemony yellow) to the red carpet in a big way.
Nicole Kidman (1996)
It would take quite a dress to upstage Tom Cruise, circa Mission: Impossible. But this chartreuse John Galliano for Dior gown, with intricate embroidering, did just that.
Celine Dion (1999)
Is it hard out there for a Best Song nominee? Apparently, as the Canadian singer wore her floppy hat and oversized tux backwards — and badly.
Juliette Binoche (1997)
In a regal gown that broke all the rules — It’s a coat! With a popped collar! In velvet! — the English Patient star (and Best Supporting Actress winner) ruled the red carpet.
Cameron Diaz (2002)
This awkwardly belted, unfortunately accessorized gown was only made worse by the actress’ fresh out of bed head.
Cate Blanchett (1999)
The Best Actress nominee (Elizabeth) netted the fashion accolades in this effortlessly slinky, dramatically embroidered John Galliano gown.
Halle Berry (2002)
Carrying on the great tradition of netting (and strategically placed flowers) Berry’s gown proved the star-making power of Oscar’s red carpet — not just for the actress, who garnered a few gasps along with the statuette for her Monster’s Ball turn, but for Elie Saab whose demurely revealing design earned him a spot on the fashion map.
Gwyneth Paltrow (1999)
It wasn’t the best fitted gown in terms of its bodice, but the pale pink Ralph Lauren was a perfect fit for the moment when Paltrow tearily accepted her Best Actress statue (for Shakespeare in Love) and ascended to the role of Hollywood’s crown princess.
Gwyneth Paltrow (2002)
The actress didn’t even try to cover up in see-through Alexander McQueen and a bucketful of eyeliner that she must have borrowed from Margot Tenenbaum.
Drew Barrymore (1998)
As the former child star further proved, best dressed doesn’t have to mean designer dresses and cookie-cutter accessories: At this ceremony, an off-the-rack black number and daisies made for an adorable and uniquely Drew look.
Demi Moore (1989)
Going casual doesn’t always work, though. Consider this the first commandment of Oscar dressing: No bike shorts on the red carpet. Ever.
Grace Kelly (1955)
Her sublime ice blue satin gown has since positioned the Best Actress winner (The Country Girl) as the fashion icon to beat.
Kim Basinger (1998)
And as Basinger proved, if you can’t beat Grace Kelly you could just channel her, which seems to be what the LA Confidential star was doing when she showed up to collect her Best Supporting Actress statuette in pin curls and mint green Escada.
Kim Basinger (1990)
Another theory on the actress’s best turn (see previous slide): She was still atoning for this Jekyll and Hyde atrocity.
Audrey Hepburn (1954)
You can’t have a conversation about Hollywood icons without mentioning the original gamine, whose classic Givenchy gown made the night of her Roman Holiday win even more noteworthy.
Winona Ryder (2000)
Once the face of slacker chic, turning up in this ’40s-era Pauline Trigere vintage gown took the actress from grunge to glamour.
Angelina Jolie (2000)
She should have been happy with her Best Supporting Actress win (for Girl, Interrupted) but in what could only be termed Goth Formal Jolie just looked scary.
Helen Mirren (2007)
In a stunningly bodice-skimming Christian Lacroix, the Best Actress winner (The Queen) gave new life to the term ”silver fox.”
The actress who elevated worst-dressing to an art form reached her pinnacle in this spider-headdressed Bob Mackie creation.
Uma Thurman (1995)
Can you remember back to a time when no one — not even the devil — wore Prada? It was the Pulp Fiction star’s lavender gown that launched the Italian label into the mainstream.
Uma Thurman (2004)
It’s a testament to the actress’s beauty that even in remnants from the Sound of Music wardrobe closet she still looked beautiful. But that doesn’t make this puff-sleeved travesty of a Swiss maiden dress from Christian Lacroix okay.
Elizabeth Taylor (1970)
Proving the power of the dress, Taylor’s plunging violet gown highlighted her violet eyes — and ensured everyone else’s were on her.
Catherine Zeta-Jones (1999)
Picking another perfect hue, this fire-red Versace certified the Zorro star a bonafide siren.
Eight years after the Icelandic singer first walked the swan down the red carpet, the shock has finally subsided enough that some are starting to defend the avian attire. We’re not buying it. A fluffy white skirt is fine, but next time, please please please…leave the beak at home.