The 36 most iconic Oscars red-carpet looks of all time

The stars have always shined their brightest at the Academy Awards, ever since the first ceremony in 1929. While the actual awards ceremony is certainly important, the glorious gowns that the stars wear on the red carpet are a huge part of the reason many tune in every year.

The Oscars have given us some of the most memorable fashion moments of all time, especially thanks to red carpet regulars like Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep. From a Gap button-down that shocked the world to a Grecian gown fit for a goddess, these are the 36 most iconic looks in Oscars history.

Audrey Hepburn looked incredible in her ivory Givenchy dress at the 1954 ceremony.

That year, Hepburn won for best actress in the movie “Roman Holiday.”

Givenchy later dressed Hepburn for nearly all of her Oscar appearances, according to People. The actress received free clothes from the designer for decades, and Givenchy even named the boat-neck dress after one of Hepburn’s most iconic characters.

“I named it ‘décolleté Sabrina,'” he told Vanity Fair.

Elizabeth Taylor wore this sweet yellow and floral Christian Dior gown in 1961.

She accessorized with white gloves and a classic ’60s bouffant as she accepted her best actress award for “Butterfield 8.”

Barbara Streisand’s see-through dress in 1969 was a total accident.

Streisand later revealed that she had no idea the Arnold Scaasi pantsuit she chose would look completely see-through under the lights.

“I had no idea that when the lights hit that outfit, it would become transparent,” she reportedly said. “I wanted a white collar and cuffs, which it had, and I wore my hair under my chin, because I thought to myself, I’m going to win two Oscars in my lifetime, and I’ll be more conservative next time.”

Streisand also grabbed headlines when she tied for best actress with Katharine Hepburn for her role in “Funny Girl” that same night.

Farrah Fawcett wore this slinky dress to the 1978 Oscars.

The “Charlie’s Angels” star wore this gold Stephen Burrows gown when she presented at the Oscars, and it became iconic. You can see another view of the gorgeous dress here.

Cher’s incredible look in 1986 was very intentional.

Cher at the 1986 Academy Awards.

Never one to dress down, Cher made sure she had everyone’s attention with her two-piece dress and incredible headdress by Bob Mackie.

“We had a meeting at [Cher’s then-boyfriend] Tom Cruise’s apartment in New York,” Mackie said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “She’d been in a lot of movies where she was wearing jeans and T-shirts and hadn’t worn a getup in a long time. I said, ‘But you can’t wear that to the Academy Awards.’ She said, ‘I don’t care. I don’t want to look like a housewife in an evening gown.’ She was in every newspaper the next day; she’s not so dumb.”

Nicole Kidman made John Galliano at Dior a household name after wearing this dress to the 1997 Oscars.

Though the silk dress was the “first true couture dress on the red carpet,” according to Melissa Rivers speaking to Vanity Fair, and inspired numerous knockoffs, not everyone was a fan of the dress.

“I hate that color!” Joan Rivers famously said when she saw it, before pretending to make “retching sounds in Kidman’s direction.”

Sharon Stone mixed high and low in 1998 when she wore a Gap button-down shirt with a Vera Wang skirt.

It wasn’t the first time Stone wore Gap to the Oscars; she also wore a black turtleneck from the brand two years earlier.

Julia Roberts later had a similar look at the 2014 Golden Globes when she paired her Dolce & Gabbana dress with a white button-down, too.

Gwyneth Paltrow stunned in her pink Ralph Lauren dress in 1999 when she accepted her Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love.”

Gwyneth Paltrow at the 1999 Academy Awards.
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Paltrow previously told People Style that she has been saving every one of her Oscars dresses and hopes that her daughter Apple might wear one to prom.

“Maybe she’ll wear [my pink Ralph Lauren dress] to prom and do a ‘Pretty in Pink’ thing and resew it and cut it up,” she said. “I don’t know if I’d let her chop that one up.”

Yellow is an unusual choice for the red carpet, but Renée Zellweger totally pulled off the look in 2001.

Renée Zellweger at the 2001 Academy Awards.
Chris Weeks/Getty Images

Her bright yellow vintage dress was designed by Jean Desses and went on to become one of the most memorable looks of the night.

Julia Roberts won an Oscar in 2001 while wearing a vintage Valentino column dress.

Julia Roberts at the 2001 Academy Awards.
Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images

She told People Magazine in 2017 that she’s saving the black-and-white dress for her daughter, and it’s currently stored in a box under her bed.

Love it or hate it, Björk had one of the most unforgettable Oscars dresses of all time in 2001.

Björk’s unconventional dress was created by Macedonian designer Marjan Pejoski. The singer-songwriter completed it with her very own “eggs.”

“The swan dress was actually part of my winter 2001-2002 collection and Björk saw it and loved it,” Pejoski explained. “She took it a step further and made an event of the whole thing by creating ostrich egg bags and laying them on the carpet. With the Oscars, there’s a uniform, like the police. Bjork was definitely outside the box.”

Halle Berry made history in this dress as the first black woman to win a best actress award in 2002.

Berry gave a powerful acceptance speech for her role in “Monster’s Ball” that night that was just as talked about as her Elie Saab dress.

“I believed that in that moment, that when I said, ‘The door tonight has been opened,’ I believed that with every bone in my body that this was going to incite change because this door, this barrier, had been broken,” she said at the Makers Conference in 2016. “To sit here almost 15 years later, and knowing that another woman of color has not walked through that door, is heartbreaking.”

Since her win in 2002, only four black women have been nominated for a best actress Oscar, including Ruth Negga (“Loving”) in 2017.

Kate Hudson made her grand arrival to the 2003 Oscars in this lace embroidered Atelier Versace gown.

Kate Hudson at the 2003 Academy Awards.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The stunning shade of pale gold was a nice contrast to the bright red carpet, and its flowing train was a nice touch.

When she won her award for “Monster” in 2004, Charlize Theron wore this incredible, shimmery gown.

Theron always stuns on the red carpet – look no further than her Oscars look in 2016 – but this gorgeous Gucci gown was a showstopper, as was Theron herself “fresh off a trip to Brazil.”

When Hillary Swank won for Best Actress in 2005, she wore this low-backed gown.

Hillary Swank at the 2005 Academy Awards.
Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

The midnight-blue Guy Laroche creation caused a stir on the carpet for seeming very formal and subdued in the front but cutting down quite low in the back.

Swank was there to accept her second Oscar, this time for her role in “Million Dollar Baby.”

Beyoncé looked timeless at the 2005 Oscars.

The black velvet Atelier Versace dress with diamond earrings was one of Beyoncé’s simpler looks, but truly unforgettable.

Later in the night, the then-23-year-old superstar performed three songs for attendees.

Michelle Williams blew everyone away in this sunny Vera Wang dress at the 2006 Oscars.

Michelle Williams at the 2006 Academy Awards.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

She paired the mustard-colored dress with a bright red lip and sunburst necklace for a truly unique look.

Williams was nominated that year for her role in “Brokeback Mountain.”

Reese Witherspoon went with this gorgeous vintage Christian Dior dress in 2006.

Reese Witherspoon at the 2006 Academy Awards.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

She went on to take home the Oscar for best actress for her role in “Walk the Line.”

Penelope Cruz wore this Atelier Versace gown to the 2007 Oscars.

The blush-colored dress had a “silk chiffon bodice and a train of silk chiffon, organza, and tulle.”

She was nominated that year for best actress in the movie “Volver.”

Anne Hathaway’s Marchesa draped dress stunned on the 2008 red carpet.

The actress has since worn some other unforgettable looks, but this dress remains one of the best.

Marion Cotillard looked like some sort of land mermaid in her Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2008 Couture gown.

Later on in the night, she won best actress for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose” and became the first woman and second person after Adrien Brody in “The Pianist” to win both a César (basically a French Oscar) and an Oscar for the same performance.

Viola Davis looked glowing in gold with this Reem Acra gown in 2009.

Viola Davis at the 2009 Academy Awards.
Frazer Harrison

She was nominated for best supporting actress for her work in the film “Doubt.”

Freida Pinto turned heads in a blue gown by John Galliano in 2009.

The striking cobalt gown had one sheer sleeve featuring the same beaded design as the rest of the dress.

Zoe Saldana walked the 2010 red carpet in a bold Givenchy dress.

The dress featured shimmering sequins on the bodice and extended out into a purple skirt with fluffy pom-pom designs.

Mila Kunis looked like a goddess in her lilac Elie Saab dress in 2011.

The dress was quite intricate with chiffon, tiered lace, and a ribbon waist.

“This was one of the first dresses we tried on a month ago,” Kunis told MTV on the carpet. “Then today, it was a toss-up between this dress and another dress, and this one won.”

Angelina Jolie became a meme at the 2012 Oscars in this black dress with a huge slit.

Jolie’s up-to-there slit in her Versace dress with her leg popping out ignited almost 4,000 tweets per minute, according to Us Weekly.

“I heard something, but I didn’t pay any attention,” the actress told The Huffington Post. “It’s as simple as being a woman picking a dress you like and having a night, and not really thinking about anything else.”

Meryl Streep is an acting legend, and her sparkly gold Lanvin gown in 2012 deserved its own special award.

Meryl Streep at the 2012 Academy Awards.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Streep looked just like one of those famous gold Oscar statues as she won the Best Actress award for “The Iron Lady.”

Amy Adams stunned in this flowing silver-gray Oscar de la Renta design at the 2013 Oscars.

Amy Adams at the 2013 Academy Awards.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The actress was up for best supporting actress for her work in “The Master.”

Jennifer Lawrence looked gorgeous in this Dior creation at the 2013 ceremony — even after she fell on stage.

Jennifer Lawrence at the 2013 Academy Awards.
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When she was going up to accept her Oscar for best actress, Lawrence fell on the steps after tripping on her gown.

“I was at the Oscars, waiting to hear if my name was called, and I kept thinking, ‘Cakewalk, cakewalk, cakewalk,'” the actress said. “I thought, Why is ‘cakewalk’ stuck in my head? And then, as I started to walk up the stairs and the fabric from my dress tucked under my feet, I realized my stylist had told me, ‘Kick, walk, kick, walk.’ You are supposed to kick the dress out while you walk, and I totally forgot because I was thinking about cake! And that’s why I fell.”

For the 2014 Oscars, Lupita Nyong’o wore a Prada dress in a dazzling shade of blue.

She told E! News that she chose the dress because the color reminded her of her hometown in Kenya.

“It’s a blue that reminds me of Nairobi, so I wanted to have a little bit of home,” she told E! News.

Jennifer Lopez looked like a princess in her sparkling Elie Saab gown in 2015.

Jennifer Lopez at the 2015 Academy Awards.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The dramatic nude dress took center stage that night, but was a lot for the actress to handle.

“You can’t party in this dress, not even me,” she told Hollywood Life.

Lupita Nyong’o’s $150,000 Oscar dress at the 2015 awards was later stolen (and then recovered).

The pearl-encrusted, custom-made Calvin Klein Collection dress was made with 6,000 pearls and was famously stolen from Nyong’o’s hotel room, though it was later recovered.

In 2016, Lady Gaga wore a white jumpsuit by Brandon Maxwell with a flowing train at the back.

Her outfit managed to combine the sleek jumpsuit trend with the typically grandiose gowns found on the Oscars red carpet.

Cate Blanchett wore this lovely sea-foam Armani Prive gown with floral embellishments to the 2016 Oscars.

Cate Blanchett at the 2016 Academy Awards.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The actress was nominated for her work in the film “Carol.”

Emma Stone made a huge impact in 2017 with this sparkly gold gown by Givenchy Haute Couture.

Emma Stone at the 2017 Academy Awards.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The dress featured fringe detailing on the bottom half and was adorned with Swarovski crystals. She picked up her first best actress Oscar for her role in the film “La La Land” that night.

Nicole Kidman had a leg up on everyone else when her Armani Privé gown stole the show during the 2018 Oscars.

Nicole Kidman at the 2018 Academy Awards.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Kidman’s vivid blue gown featured a giant bow at the waist and a thigh-high slit that made it one of the most memorable looks of the night.

The “Big Little Lies” star also made headlines for hilariously crashing Sandra Bullock’s red carpet interview.

Read more: Nicole Kidman hilariously bombed Sandra Bullock’s Oscars red carpet interview – and her timing was perfect