Oscar style through the years
As the Oscar ceremony fast approaches, we’re taking a stroll down memory lane — which, it turns out, is carpeted in red. As well as being markers of Hollywood history, every Academy Awards ceremony is a fashion time capsule. Here are 64 of the most essential red-carpet style moments from Oscars past.
Janet Gaynor (1929)
Janet Gaynor was ’20s-cool in a sweater and scarf when she accepted the first-ever Academy Award for Best Actress in 1929, for her performances in the films 7th Heaven, Street Angel, and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans.
Mary Pickford (1930)
Mary Pickford was elegant in this beaded silk chiffon gown at the second Academy Awards, where she won Best Actress for her performance in Coquette.
Norma Shearer (1930)
Six-time nominee Norma Shearer accepted the third Oscar for Best Actress (for The Divorcee) in a shimmering floor-length dress with a matching fur-trimmed jacket.
Clark Gable (1935)
Frankly, my dear, Clark Gable looked the part of the perfect movie star in 1935, when It Happened One Night swept the four main categories, including a Best Actor win for Gable.
Bette Davis (1939)
Best Actress winner Bette Davis (for Jezebel) stopped the show in this dramatic full-skirted tulle gown, her face framed by egret feathers sewn along the neckline.
Vivien Leigh (1940)
Vivien Leigh accepted the award for Best Actress in 1940 (for Gone with the Wind) wearing this floral Irene dress with a full skirt, the print and silhouette of which were atypical of eveningwear at the time.
Hattie McDaniel (1940)
Hattie McDaniel was elegant in a turquoise dress and matching beaded jacket, with white gardenias at her collar and in her hair, when she made history as the first black artist to win an Academy Award. The venue where the 12th ceremony was held, the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, made an exception to its racially discriminatory policy by allowing McDaniel to attend, but the Best Supporting Actress winner was still forced to sit at a separate table against the wall rather than with her Gone with the Wind costars.
Joan Fontaine (1942)
In 1942, when the country was at war, female attendees were asked to tone down their evening wear; Best Actress winner Joan Fontaine (for Suspicion), pictured here with Ginger Rogers, wore a long-sleeved black dress with a matching black lace mantilla.
Jimmy Stewart (1942)
For 1942’s somewhat more solemn wartime ceremony, Brigadier General Jimmy Stewart appeared in his Air Force uniform.
Olivia de Havilland (1947)
The 1947 winner for Best Actress, To Each His Own star Olivia de Havilland, wore a pale-blue organza gown with a colorful string of flowers hand-painted across the bodice and down the full skirt.
Loretta Young (1948)
Loretta Young was resplendent in abundantly ruffled emerald-green silk taffeta, accessorized with matching opera-length gloves, when she won Best Actress in 1948 for her performance in The Farmer’s Daughter.
Marilyn Monroe (1951)
Marilyn Monroe made her only Oscar appearance at the 1951 show, when she presented in this dramatic black tulle gown.
Donna Reed (1954)
Donna Reed embodied pure ’50s glamour in this fitted strapless gown when she accepted the trophy for Best Supporting Actress (for From Here to Eternity) in 1954.
Audrey Hepburn (1954)
Audrey Hepburn won her only competitive Oscar on her first nomination (of five), for Roman Holiday in 1954. The icon of chic accepted the honor in this belted boatnecked floral dress by her friend Hubert de Givenchy, who dressed her regularly.
Grace Kelly (1955)
Legendary costumer Edith Head made Grace Kelly’s ice-blue strappy silk sheath dress in 1955, when she was named Best Actress for her performance in The Country Girl.
Marlon Brando (1955)
Marlon Brando looked sharp in a black tux when he accepted the award for Best Actor, for his performance in On the Waterfront, in 1955.
Miyoshi Umeki (1958)
The only Asian actress to ever win an Academy Award, 1958’s Best Supporting Actress (for Sayonara) Miyoshi Umeki wore a beautiful black kimono to the ceremony. Almost 20 years later, she destroyed her statuette.
Janet Leigh (1960)
Janet Leigh (pictured with then-husband Tony Curtis) rang in the ’60s in this glittering belted sheath dress with white elbow-length gloves.
Rita Moreno (1962)
When she won Best Supporting Actress for West Side Story in 1962, Rita Moreno wore a shimmery gown with a black bodice atop a full floral skirt. Over 50 years later, Moreno wore the dress again to the 2018 Oscars.
Sophia Loren (1963)
Sophia Loren presented at the 1963 ceremony wearing a midi-length tulle dress with a voluminous textured collar.
Sidney Poitier (1964)
For his historic 1964 Oscar win, when Sidney Poitier became the first black man to win Best Actor (for Lilies of the Field), he looked sharp in a white bow tie worn with a black morning coat.
Barbra Streisand (1969)
One of 1969’s two Best Actresses (an honor she won for Funny Girl, tying with The Lion in Winter‘s Katharine Hepburn), Barbra Streisand delivered an Oscar look for the ages with these sequined, sheer Arnold Scaasi pajamas, finished off with a crisp white collar on top and huge billowing bellbottoms at her feet.
Diahann Carroll (1969)
In a pale pink gown with a sheer, glittering white overlay, Diahann Carroll brought ethereal glamour to the Oscar stage when she presented at the 1969 ceremony.
Diana Ross (1973)
For her turn as a presenter at the 1973 show, Diana Ross went with menswear-gone-glam, choosing this silvery silk tuxedo by Bob Mackie.
Ann-Margret experimented with fashion at the 1974 awards, wearing this rhinestone-covered cap atop a high-necked, skintight, beaded black sheath.
Lauren Hutton (1975)
Presenter Lauren Hutton emanated breezy glamour at the 1975 show, where she wore a multi-pastel Halston gown accessorized with effortless loose hair and a luxurious fur coat.
Elizabeth Taylor (1976)
You could practically trace the history of Oscar style using the fashion of Elizabeth Taylor alone. One of the icon’s most essential Academy Awards moments came in 1976, when she wore this strapless Halston dress — the color of which the designer then named “Elizabeth Taylor Red.”
Jack Nicholson (1976)
Jack Nicholson could not have looked more ’70s cool when he accepted the Oscar for Best Actor in 1976 (for his performance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), accessorizing his tuxedo with aviator sunglasses.
Diane Keaton (1978)
Annie Hall’s iconic style lasted well after the credits rolled, with Diane Keaton bringing the character’s signature look to the Oscar stage when she accepted the award for Best Actress for her performance in the film.
Farrah Fawcett (1978)
Farrah Fawcett didn’t need a speck of jewelry to bring sparkle to her 1978 look, a glittery, drapey gold minidress.
John Travolta (1978)
A flowy-haired John Travolta lent his classic black tux some distinction in 1978, updating the look with a white silk scarf draped around his neck.
Raquel Welch (1979)
Presenter Raquel Welch didn’t go for a gown in 1979, but rather a skintight, bright-blue sequined catsuit, accessorized with a wide gold choker at her neck.
Sigourney Weaver (1981)
Sigourney Weaver presented at the 1981 show, where she wore this shoulder-padded, elaborately draped white jumpsuit with flat shoes.
Jane Seymour (1981)
Presenter Jane Seymour glittered at the 1981 ceremony in this bright red dress dripping in silver fringe, her huge ’80s hair cascading over one shoulder.
Jessica Lange (1983)
Jessica Lange went pure ’80s when she won Best Supporting Actress (for Tootsie) in 1983, opting for this ice-blue, knee-length Valentino with long sleeves, shoulder pads, and rhinestones all over.
Anjelica Huston (1986)
We’re green with envy over the vivid emerald Tzetzi Ganev gown Anjelica Huston wore to the 1986 awards, where she was named Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Prizzi’s Honor.
How to choose just one Cher look? Every entry in the icon’s collection of outrageous Bob Mackie Oscar ensembles is worthy of recognition, but we have to give the gold to what she wore when she won Best Actress in 1988 (for Moonstruck). The sheer beaded gown, accessorized with a matching wrap and earrings that drop down to her collarbone, was a genuine showstopper.
Spike Lee (1990)
Best Original Screenplay nominee (for Do the Right Thing) Spike Lee dressed up his 1990 Oscar look with a brilliantly colored Kente cloth scarf.
Cindy Crawford (1991)
Cindy Crawford embodied early ’90s glamour in this plunging red Versace, worn with natural makeup and voluminous blown-out hair, at the 1991 Oscars.
Michael Jackson (1991)
Michael Jackson may have attended the 1991 awards with Madonna, but even the Material Girl (dressed like Marilyn Monroe) couldn’t upstage Jackson’s Oscar fashion game. The King of Pop defended his crown in a bedazzled white jacket, a huge diamond brooch, a thick black armband, and black gloves — yes, on both hands!
Marisa Tomei (1993)
When Marisa Tomei won Best Supporting Actress (for My Cousin Vinny) in a memorable upset, she accepted the trophy in this white silk organza Chanel with black piping, white lace insets, and a thick black bow at the waist.