Awards season is nearly upon us. But, thanks to continued Covid-19 restrictions in place across most of the globe, proceedings are likely to look a little different this year. So while elaborate ceremonies and glamorous premieres have been put on hold for the time being, there’s a wealth of memorable (and sometimes questionable) red carpet moments to revisit in their absence.
Here we’re hopping into the fashion time machine to celebrate some of the most iconic red carpet looks from years gone by.
Lady Gaga, MTV VMAs, 2010
Lady Gaga’s meat dress – constructed from raw beef – was voted Time magazine’s fashion statement of 2010. It was also, of course, widely criticised by animal rights activists. While you might think the dress was nothing more than an attempt to grab headlines, in true Gaga style she later revealed it was actually a statement on the importance of standing up for our human rights, specifically in regards to the US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Halle Berry, Academy Awards, 2002
In 2002, Hollywood actress Halle Berry made history by becoming the first Black woman to win a Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar for her turn in Monster’s Ball. And she couldn’t have looked more elegant doing so, wearing a show stopping burgundy gown. Complete with sweeping silky skirt and sheer embellished top, this red carpet appearance is often credited with securing designer Elie Saab’s position as global fashion heavyweight.
Angelina Jolie, Academy Awards, 2012
The dress that spawned a thousand memes. Angelina Jolie’s Versace number, worn to the 2012 Academy Awards, was elegantly constructed, with an asymmetric bodice and a rich, velvet material. But, of course, it was the thigh high split that cemented the gown in the mind of pop culture fans everywhere, along with the many, many, internet jokes that followed.
Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, MTV AMAs 2001
In 2001, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were music’s golden couple. The pair stepped out at the American Music Awards dressed in denim from head to toe – including accessories like Timberlake’s fetching denim cowboy hat and Spears’ glitzy denim handbag. Indeed the cultural impact of the look can’t be underestimated: two decades later the all-denim look is a classic in many couples’ Halloween costume repertoires.
Billy Porter, Academy Awards, 2019
Pose star Billy Porter has never been afraid to pull out all the stops on the red carpet. And while there are many ensembles that deserve recognition (see: his feathered all-purple cape at 2020’s Vanity Fair or motorised ‘lampshade’ hat at 2019’s Grammys), it’s Porter’s monochrome tuxedo gown, worn to 2019 Academy Awards, that is most memorable. By embracing high glamour, while defying and subverting gender norms, Porter explained that he intended to “be a walking piece of political art.”
Jennifer Lopez, Grammy Awards, 2000
Often cited as the dress that took Versace from fashion-pack favourite to global household name, Jennifer Lopez wore this sheer green dress to the Grammy Awards in 2000. Undeniably sexy, the dress combines a tropical themed print with navel grazing neckline and intricate, citrine-studded gathering at the waist. 20 years later, a seemingly never-aging Lopez modelled a reimagined version of the dress at the Spring 2020 Versace show during Milan Fashion Week.
Björk, Academy Awards, 2001
Icelandic musician Bjork has never been one to shy away from the unusual, and her swan dress, worn to 2001 Academy Awards, was no exception. Layered over a sheer nude bodysuit, Bjork’s dress featured a billowing feathered skirt and a replica of a swan’s head and neck that wrapped around the singer’s torso and shoulders. An unmissable choice in a sea of playing-it-safe black dresses – and one of history’s most iconic red carpet looks.
Rihanna, Met Gala, 2018
Since her very first attendance in 2009, Rihanna has embraced everything the Met Gala is about: fashion, fantasy and the art of dressing up. But it was in 2018, when she served as co-chair of the event alongside Donna Karen and Amal Clooney, that Rihanna really came into her own. In custom John Galliano for Maison Margiela, complete with Pope-worthy mitre, Rihanna’s look consisted of a heavily embellished mini dress and overcoat combination – complete with crystal-covered Louboutins too, of course.