The Stars Who Ruled the Red Carpet
As 2018 approaches, we’re all guessing which stars we’ll see and which trends will take over (hint: probably a lot of black) on the upcoming awards season style circuit. But hey, not so fast! Before the new year begins, let’s take a minute to look back at the red carpet fashion of 2017. From winter awards shows to summer blockbuster premieres to fall film festivals, the stars (and their glam squads) have brought their style A-game for the past 12 months. Check out our picks for the best — and worst — red carpet looks of the year, ahead.
BEST: Lupita Nyong’o at the Hollywood premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata makes only the briefest of appearances in The Last Jedi, but the ever-stylish star more than made up for it at the film’s Los Angeles premiere in December. The Oscar winner glittered on the Episode VIII red carpet in an emerald-green midi-length strapless sheath with a thigh-high slit by Halpern. She kept the accessories simple and let the gorgeous sculptural dress do the talking, finishing the look with matching green fingernails, a gold clutch, gold sandals, diamond earrings, and a giant ring for a truly otherworldly style moment.
BEST: Laura Dern at the Hollywood premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The Last Jedi’s Amilyn Holdo is as glamorous as she is heroic, but Laura Dern managed to outdo even her purple-haired vice admiral on the red carpet at the film’s Hollywood premiere in December. The actress — whose busy 2017 also included an Emmy-winning turn on Big Little Lies and a major role on Showtime’s Twin Peaks revival — stunned in this sheer strapless gown, with a dotted tulle overlay over a boned lace bodice and a draping detail at the dropped waist. She accessorized the dress, from the Vivienne Westwood Couture collection, with simple jewelry and red nails, keeping her hair loose and her neck bare.
BEST: Donald Glover at the Emmys
Donald Glover’s pair of history-making wins — for directing and starring in Atlanta — wasn’t the only thing setting him apart from the crowd at this year’s Emmy Awards. The multi-hyphenate star also stole the show on the red carpet in this violet Gucci suit, a welcome pop of purple against an army of black tuxes. Who says menswear has to be boring?
BEST: Jennifer Lawrence at the Venice Premiere of mother!
Everyone’s talking about Jennifer Lawrence getting together with Darren Aronofsky, but the real match made in heaven is the actress’ five-year relationship with Christian Dior. Lawrence has been the face of the French fashion house since 2012 (delivering such memorable looks as the white gown she wore as she won an Oscar — and took a tumble — in 2013), and she proved the partnership is as strong as ever at the Venice premiere of her and Aronofsky’s first collaboration, mother!, in September. With simple jewelry and her hair in a chignon, Lawrence played up the ballerina silhouette of her Dior Couture dress, a semi-sheer ball gown with a strategically embroidered, low-necked bodice atop a dreamy full skirt, all in dotted black and blush tulle.
BEST: George and Amal Clooney at the Venice Premiere of Suburbicon
At the Venice premiere of George Clooney’s Suburbicon in September, the Hollywood icon and his wife, human rights lawyer Amal, made their first public appearance since the birth of their twins three months prior — and they made it count. George looked sharp, as always, in a black tux, but new mom Amal was the real style star in Versace. Looking almost anachronistically glamorous in her Grecian-inspired lilac chiffon gown, she finished off the look with a retro faux bob, red lip, and drop earrings.
BEST: Julianne Moore at the Franca Sozzani Award Presentation at Venice
At the Venice Film Festival in September, Julianne Moore was named the first recipient of the Franca Sozzani Award, a tribute to the late editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue. Moore accepted the honor in a gown befitting the celebration of a legendary fashion editor (and an Italian one, at that), selecting this showstopping Valentino for the event. She paired the dress, a lavender lace sheath under a high-necked red tulle overlay, with a matching red velvet clutch and satin shoes — as well as another, unplanned detail: The sheer top layer billowed dramatically in the strong wind, shifting the goddess-glam factor into overdrive. A fashion assist from the weather? Only in Venezia.
BEST: Millie Bobby Brown at the MTV Video Music Awards
The awards love heaped upon Stranger Things turned its young stars into red carpet veterans in a matter of months, and Millie Bobby Brown has emerged as a master of the fine art of dressing her age (that would be 13) with great sophistication. She was a clear fashion highlight on the VMAs carpet, where she wore a tiered black tulle Rodarte dress — with swishy bell sleeves, a sprinkling of gold polka dots, and a bit of an edge — along with a sleek updo and black patent boots.
BEST: Gal Gadot at the Hollywood Premiere of Wonder Woman
Gal Gadot looked wondrous at the Hollywood premiere of Wonder Woman in May, glittering with the ferocity of an Amazon warrior (and glowing with the pride of a newly minted A-lister) in a bright red, sequined, high-necked gown with cutouts by Givenchy. And making it bolder still? She revealed on the carpet that she paired the dress with $50 flats from Aldo. Superheroines! They really are just like us!
BEST: Janelle Monae at the Academy Awards
As a cast member of two major awards contenders, Moonlight and Hidden Figures, Janelle Monae lit up red carpets all season with her consistently thrilling fashion choices. But the arresting Elie Saab Haute Couture gown she wore to the Oscars was the cherry on top of the awards circuit sundae. Only someone with Monae’s poise and presence could pull off such an elaborate creation as this black tulle dress, with its high-necked, sheer, embellished bodice, separated by a thick velvet belt from the full, sequined skirt with a sheer, feathered panel down the front. It only seems right that she accessorized with a matching crown; this is a dress that practically demands people to bow down.
BEST: Zendaya at the Met Gala
Young though she may be, Zendaya holds her own on a red carpet with the very best of them, and one of the most exciting entries on her rapidly expanding fashion resume is the breathtaking Dolce and Gabbana gown she wore to this year’s Met Gala. The relatively traditional silhouette was updated with a surprising, whimsical parrot print in vivid orange and yellow, and she wore lips bright, her hair full, and her neck bare for maximum glamour.
BEST: Emma Watson at the Shanghai Premiere of Beauty and the Beast
Ever since her days as Hermione Granger, Emma Watson has never failed to earn style points on the red carpet. She reached true overachiever status, however, when she endeavored to make ecologically responsible fashion choices for the duration of her extremely high-profile Beauty and the Beast press tour. For the live-action fairy tale’s Shanghai premiere in February, Watson wore an Elie Saab creation made entirely from leftover fabric, according to her official press tour Instagram account — 15 meters of embroidered, beaded, and sequined tulle, five meters of illusion tulle, and four meters of crepe georgette silk, all just leftover. So it’s environmentally friendly, which is great. But it also doesn’t hurt that this regal gown, with its long train and sheer cape, happens to be jaw-droppingly beautiful, too.
BEST: Mahershala Ali at the Academy Awards
Confession: It was difficult to decide which of Mahershala Ali’s multiple awards season tuxedos to include on the list of the year’s very best because his choices blew everyone else’s drab suits out of the water. But the spot had to go to his Oscar night ensemble. Ali went monochrome the night he took home the statuette for Best Supporting Actor for his profound performance in Moonlight, wearing an all-black Ermenegildo Zegna Couture tuxedo and accenting it with a black-and-white pocket square.
BEST: Emma Stone at the Golden Globes
When Emma Stone won a Golden Globe for her performance in Damien Chazelle’s romantic musical La La Land in January, she was wearing this gorgeous nude Valentino gown with a plunging neckline, embellished with metallic stars and accessorized with Tiffany & Co. jewelry. While her fashion never faltered over the course of awards season, which the actress spent collecting one statuette after another, this stunning creation reigns supreme above all the others she wore — what could be better for the leading lady of a movie dedicated to the “City of Stars”?
BEST: Leslie Mann at the Academy Awards
Leslie Mann went full Belle in Zac Posen at the Oscars, accessorizing her princess dress with 40-carat yellow diamond earrings by Lorraine Schwartz. The gown’s full swishy skirt and perfect shade of yellow bring the tale as old as time to mind, but the truest sign of a real-life fashion fairy tale is how much fun she’s clearly having wearing it.
BEST: Rihanna at the Grammy Awards
Ri-Ri never lets us down! While this Armani Privé ensemble doesn’t quite top her 2015 Giambattista Valli dress, it still easily ranks among the very best red carpet looks of the year. She is probably the only person in the world who could wear this glittering orange crop top and sculptural black skirt with such cool nonchalance. She accessorized the look, of course, with a bedazzled flask.
BEST: Nicole Kidman at the Cannes Premiere of The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Nicole Kidman is a red carpet goddess if there ever was one (she practically invented the color chartreuse, for crying out loud), and her bold sartorial instincts didn’t fail her at Cannes in May. At the premiere of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer — one of Kidman’s four high-profile projects at le festival — she opted for this chic look, a black satin bustier with a voluminous white tulle skirt by Calvin Klein by Appointment.
BEST: Riz Ahmed at the Academy Awards
Between his memorable turns in Rogue One, The Night Of, and Girls, Riz Ahmed has captured all of our hearts and imaginations in the last year. So it’s no surprise that he delivers on a red carpet, too, and he distinguished himself amid the sea of black menswear at the Oscars with this sleek blue tux.
BEST: Bette Midler at the Tony Awards
Bette Midler was flawlessly elegant at this year’s Tonys — even as she yelled at the orchestra to “shut that crap off” when accepting an award for her performance in Hello, Dolly! — in this glittering grey Michael Kors column dress with chic, ruffle-detailed, three-quarter sleeves.
BEST: Ruth Negga at the Academy Awards
Ruth Negga was nominated for just about every honor imaginable this year for her moving performance in Loving , but though she might have been an awards season neophyte, you would never know it from her fashion. She stunned at every ceremony she attended — especially the Oscars, where Negga was nominated for Best Actress. She chose this elegant red Valentino lace dress for the big show, accessorizing the Victorian-inspired gown with a matching headband and an ACLU blue ribbon.
BEST: Lily Collins at the Golden Globes
Lily Collins was nominated for a Golden Globe this year for her performance in Warren Beatty’s Hollywood love story Rules Don’t Apply, and she truly dressed for the occasion, choosing this pink embroidered Zuhair Murad Haute Couture gown and pairing the romantic dress with a dark red lip and high bun.
BEST: Elle Fanning at Opening Night of the Cannes Film Festival
You might not be able to tell from the photograph, but there is an actual unicorn, hand-painted in cotton candy pink, on the train of this Vivienne Westwood dress, worn by Elle Fanning at the opening night ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival in May. You know what they say: business up front, fictional magical creatures in the back.
BEST: Taraji P. Henson at the Screen Actors Guild Awards
Taraji P. Henson had a major moment at the SAG Awards when she accepted the award for Best Cast in a Motion Picture along with her Hidden Figures costars Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer. She made an impact on the carpet that night too, though, in this mauve Reem Acra gown, with tiny black ribbon accents and strategic beading on the sheer bodice and full skirt.
BEST: Isabelle Huppert at the Academy Awards
Legendary French actress Isabelle Huppert, nominated for her phenomenal turn in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, was pure European elegance on the Oscars red carpet, accessorizing her long-sleeved, sparkling, cream-colored Armani Privé gown with edgy dark fingernails — and a certain je ne sais quoi.
BEST: Caleb McLaughlin at the Screen Actors Guild Awards
Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin might be a few decades younger than the well-suited celebs he shares the red carpet with, but he’s got more style than most of his contemporaries . He accessorized this bold striped suit with a black bowtie, a bumblebee pin, and black loafers at the SAG Awards.
BEST: Lena Dunham at the Met Gala
Lena Dunham made gingham glam at the Met Gala this year, wearing a voluminous, one-shouldered Elizabeth Kennedy gown in black and red. She accessorized the dramatic dress with a Planned Parenthood pin, an updo, and black fingernails.
BEST: Sarah Paulson at the Tony Awards
Sarah Paulson was breathtakingly elegant when she presented at the Tonys in June, wearing a beaded white lace column dress by Rodarte. She accessorized the delicate look with a ruby red clutch and big drop earrings.
BEST: Chance the Rapper at the Grammy Awards
Just because he’s on a red carpet is no reason for Chance the Rapper to abandon his signature look, and he kept his New Era cap (and looked great doing it) when he attended the Grammys, where he won three awards and delivered a showstopping performance, in February. He made the red carpet his own in this slim Thom Browne denim suit with a boxy jacket.
WORST: Ed Sheeran at the MTV Video Music Awards
We love it when Ed Sheeran’s ballads are unfussy and deceptively simple. When we’re talking about his clothes at the VMAs, it’s not romantic anymore.
WORST: Jenna Lyons at the Tony Awards
The fashion mastermind behind J.Crew’s preppy-chic aesthetic had the rare misfire when she wore this snake-print robe to the Tonys this year. But then, every trendsetter is bound to miss the mark occasionally.
WORST: Joy Villa at the Grammy Awards
Joy Villa’s “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” dress made a political statement that was about as unsubtle as the dress itself was ill-fitting.
WORST: Jared Leto at the MTV Video Music Awards
Jared Leto’s sequined cape is rather a wonderful garment, really, it just doesn’t quite work on the VMAs red carpet, paired with a pink floral turtleneck and ripped jeans — though come to think of it, it’s hard to figure out exactly where such a piece should be worn, and with what.
WORST: Kate Hudson at the Screen Actors Guild Awards
Kate Hudson’s look at the SAG Awards seemed strangely out-of-character on the actress, surely, but it only just makes the worst list due to its the Dior-emblazoned underwear band, half visible under the sheer bodice.
WORST: Girl Crush at the Grammy Awards
We are inclined to argue that this is the Grammy Awards, not Chuck E. Cheese. But at least it looks like Girl Crush had a ball wearing this outfit, and that, when it comes down to it, is what fashion is all about, right?
WORST: CeeLo Green at the Grammy Awards
Any criticism that we might have for CeeLo’s Grammys ensemble has already been expressed in meme form. So, suffice it to say: Not your best, CeeLo.