I debated about crafting a post on Oscar fashion but I then I asked myself, why not? I personally loathe red carpet interviews, they are so trite and superficial and women get treated like objects when men get asked the real questions. The only interviews I watch are the press conferences after the winners are announced. I love the spontaneity you get from them after they just walked away with Hollywood’s biggest prize.
What I love about Oscar night is that the fanfare surrounding the ceremony gives a nod to classic Hollywood. The people in that room remember seeing footage of the greats and have always dreamed of being at the Oscars. I’m always moved by acceptance speeches (well, the ones that appear genuine) in the same way I’m moved by the Olympics, because to see people achieve a dream is a wonderful thing.
Below are some of my favorite looks from days gone by:
Audrey Hepburn (1954 and 1986)
It should come as no surprise that I choose two looks from Audrey Hepburn as she is my absolute favorite. Everything this woman did exuded elegance. As both a winner in 1954 and a presenter more than 30 years later, she brought class to the ceremony setting the standard every female has tried to emulate since.
Natalie Wood (1962)
Natalie Wood provides an important lesson to anyone going to the Oscars: if you win or lose, look like a winner. She was simply gorgeous in this stunning number at the 1962 Oscars. Wood was nominated for Splendor in the Grass (in my opinion, her finest hour) but lost to Sophia Loren in Two Women (an incredible film and the first performance awarded from a foreign film). It was a disappointment for her but you would never know it from the photos of that night, the photos that live on. That dress, that hair, and of course Warren Beatty left her walking away with her head held high. Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper famously quipped, “Natalie Wood was robbed! But at least she got the nicest consolation prize — Warren Beatty.”
Elizabeth Taylor (1961)
Elizabeth Taylor’s Oscar win for Butterfield 8 has been met with controversy ever since. Taylor, herself, hated the film and had no problem talking about her distaste for it and the character to anyone who would listen. Many also believed she won the statue because she had overcome a serious illness. Shirley MacLaine, who was nominated in the same category as Taylor for The Apartment said, “I thought I would win for The Apartment, but then Elizabeth Taylor had a tracheotomy.” It’s okay Shirley, you’d win many years later. No matter what was in the Academy’s minds, Taylor looked wonderful at the ceremony. This dress looks like a prom dress and maybe that’s why I love it. Her look captures the transition of the end of the 50’s to the 60’s with that big hair and the floral accents topping it off with those white gloves. It’s just a great look.
Grace Kelly (1955)
Grace Kelly looked like a princess even before she met Prince Rainier of Monaco. I mean, her name itself, is just as sophisticated as anything she ever wore or said. Her green dress here is very simple but beautiful. Her accessories are just gloves, earrings, a clutch and an accent in her hair. This look proves less is more.
This win is also another controversial one, probably one of the most in classic Hollywood history. Kelly beat out Judy Garland in her comeback role in A Star is Born. Garland had to skip the ceremony because she was giving birth to her third child. The media was so sure she would win that reporters were in the delivery room waiting to get her reaction. When Kelly’s name was announced, they left.
There are many looks to see in Oscars 86 year history and this infographic by MediaRun chronicles every “Best Actress” Oscar winner’s dress and designer since the first ceremony. It’s a real treat.