Top 20 Red Carpet Looks of the Century So Far

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Top 20 Red Carpet Looks of the Century So Far

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
These are the best red carpet looks of the century so far. For this list, we'll be looking at our favorite outfits that women have worn for major red carpet events from 2000 to today. Our countdown includes Zendaya, Emma Stone, Lady Gaga, and more!
Transcript
The 21st century has sure been a good time for fashion. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 20 Red Carpet Looks of the Century (So Far).

For this list, we’ll be looking at our favorite outfits that women have worn for major red carpet events from 2000 to today.

#20: Zendaya
69th Met Gala (2017)


Every year, the Met Institute’s Costume Gala has a theme that guests dress to, with varying degrees of success. In 2017, the theme was Comme des Garçons, but up and coming starlet Zendaya decided to walk to the beat of her own drum and go full out glam, rejecting the aesthetic that would be expected of her. Her gown was by Dolce & Gabbana and featured a lush print that included florals and parrots. The ballgown made her stand out from the crowd, and perhaps even more awe-inspiring was her natural hairstyle, whose volume matched that of her dress.

#19: Julia Roberts
73rd Academy Awards (2001)

The dress that Julia Roberts wore when she attended the 73rd Academy Awards became instantly iconic, perhaps because she took home the award for Best Actress for her role in “Erin Brockovich”, but maybe because of its own merits. The Valentino gown was simple and understated, mostly constructed from black material with a distinctive white piping as the adornment. A dress like this may not have made waves today, but back in 2001 it was all anyone could talk about. But as always, it was Roberts’ megawatt smile that really made her look shine.

#18: Anne Hathaway
81st Academy Awards (2009)

Sometimes when you’re headed to the Oscars, it’s best to dress like one of the statues yourself. This was clearly the philosophy that Anne Hathaway followed when she chose her gown for the 2009 Academy Awards, opting for a shimmering Armani Prive dress that was at once glamorous in an old Hollywood way and also felt fresh and modern. The beading was done on the bias to create an interesting patterned effect and the equally glitzy belt just added to the overall silhouette. Hathaway kept her hair and makeup simple and classic to let the dress be the focus.

#17: Angela Bassett
91st Academy Awards (2019)

Considering the fact that the carpets at so many big awards shows are notoriously red, many stars avoid colors that may clash with what’s underfoot, skipping hues in the pink or orange family. But Angela Bassett dared to wear fuschia at the 2019 Academy Awards, and the risk paid off. Her dress was a custom made Reem Acra gown that wasn’t only bold in its shade: it also featured a massive structural shoulder piece that gave it an exciting element of asymmetry. Her jewel shaped clutch reflected the color and added to the look.


#16: Emma Stone
74th Golden Globe Awards (2017)

In early 2017, Emma Stone stunned on just about every red carpet imaginable as she was nominated across the board for her performance in “La La Land”. At the Golden Globes that year, she wore a star spangled gown by Valentino in a rosy champagne hue. The star embellishments were silver and varied in size, ranging from tiny ones on the straps of the dress to larger ones on the skirt. Her loose and romantic locks made this a picture perfect image. Of course, she also took home the award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, which certainly didn’t hurt!

#15: Beyoncé
67th Met Gala (2015)

When your outfit is epic enough, no one cares if it fits the Met Gala theme. In 2015, that theme was China: Through the Looking Glass, but people were so distracted by Beyoncé’s jaw dropping look that it barely mattered. The dress (if you can even call it that), was designed by Givenchy and was almost entirely transparent, save for some key sections that used rhinestones to carefully ensure that the star didn’t appear to be totally nude. It definitely didn’t leave much to the imagination though, and had us bowing down to our forever queen Bey.

#14: Claire Danes
68th Met Gala (2016)

The 2016 Met Gala theme was Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, and nobody in attendance embodied it better than Claire Danes. She collaborated with Zac Posen to create a gown that was truly unlike anything we had seen before. On the red carpet, it may have looked like your run of the mill princess gown, but once the actress got inside, it was revealed to be something truly futuristic. That’s because Posen designed the gown using fiber optics that enabled it to light up and glow in the dark.

#13: Nicole Kidman
90th Academy Awards (2018)

By 2018, Nicole Kidman had been a frequent awards show attendee for many years, but even as an industry veteran, she was only getting better when it came to her red carpet fashion. Case in point: at the 90th Academy Awards, she chose an Armani Privé gown that landed her on pretty much every best dressed list out there. The gown featured a deep sweetheart neckline and used a bright yet deep blue fabric. But the most notable part was definitely the oversized sculptural bow at the hips, which made the dress into something entirely novel.

#12: Michelle Williams
78th Academy Awards (2006)

It’s not always easy for blondes to pull off yellow - for fear of clashing - but Michelle Williams proved that breaking the rules can lead to great things with her 2006 Oscars dress. The gown was by Vera Wang, who certainly knows how to create a romantic look, and the shade was a bright canary. Williams used expert color theory and added a red lip, which made the color of the dress pop even more. The silhouette of the garment, with its interesting ruching and modest train, made it seem like a vintage piece, though the color kept it squarely in the present.

#11: Gwyneth Paltrow
84th Academy Awards (2012)

Capes have been in style for a number of years now, but Gwyneth Paltrow was a fashion crusader when she sported one to the Oscars in 2012. Her gown was a pure white Tom Ford column dress with an asymmetrical neckline, and on its own, certainly wouldn’t have been memorable years later. But what really took the look to the next level was Paltrow’s matching cape that she wore on top of the dress. Since the outfit was relatively simple and streamlined, we’re not surprised that she opted for an oversized cuff to offset it.

#10: Halle Berry
74th Academy Awards (2002)

In 2002, Halle Berry made Academy Awards history when she became the first African American woman to take home the award for Best Actress. And for her big moment in the spotlight, she wore a dress that was almost just as groundbreaking. Elie Saab designed the ensemble, which employed a mesh construction with carefully placed floral embroidery to cover the bust. The skirt had a unique bias cut waistline and was made with a shimmering crimson material. All together, these features came together to create one of the most memorable Oscars looks of all time.

#9: Priyanka Chopra
70th Met Gala (2018)

In 2018, the Met Gala had one of the intriguing themes yet: Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. All the stars had a different take on how to interpret this concept, but Priyanka Chopra took a unique approach in a burgundy crushed velvet dress. What set this look apart though wasn’t the Ralph Lauren dress itself, but the intricately beaded hood that went with it. The piece is adorned with Swarovski crystals and took over 250 hours to construct by hand. This definitely looks just as detailed as some of the decorations in Catholic churches!

#8: Jennifer Lawrence
83rd Academy Awards (2011)

Back in 2011, Jennifer Lawrence was a relative newcomer to the awards season circuit, though she has become a staple in more recent years. For her first time on the Oscars red carpet, the actress fittingly wore red herself. She was nominated for her role in “Winter’s Bone”, and while she may not have won, she did wow the fashion industry with her simple yet flawless Calvin Klein dress. With her bouncy blonde hair, she looked every part the Hollywood starlet and it was this dress that cemented her as a style mainstay.

#7: Blake Lively
69th Annual Cannes Film Festival (2016)

Many stars seem to retreat from public appearances during their pregnancies, or opt to wear billowing styles that conceal their growing baby bumps. But at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, Blake Lively proudly paraded her bump around in a form-fitting Atelier Versace gown for the premiere of “The BFG”. The dress featured a one shoulder design and a unique cut out at the shoulder, which made for a visually interesting neckline. The fabric was a sky blue and was covered with beading in a matching hue that added a subtle pattern and shimmer.

#6: Angelina Jolie
84th Academy Awards (2012)

Was Angelina Jolie the first high profile actress to wear a dress with a thigh high slit to the Oscars? Of course not. So why did this 2012 outfit get so much buzz? For all intents and purposes, her gown wasn’t much more than a standard LBD, with a strapless asymmetrical neckline and cinched waist. Sure, the slit was higher than most, but what made the entire internet lose it over this look was the way Jolie posed while wearing it. She stuck her leg out at an odd angle, emphasizing the slit and launching a thousand memes in the process.

#5: Rihanna
67th Met Gala (2015)

After appearing at the 2015 Met Gala, Rihanna likely ended up on just as many best dressed as worst dressed lists. But you can’t deny that her look was the most talked about (and most memorable) of the night. Her ensemble was designed by Guo Pei, and Rihanna was one of the only stars who opted to sport designs by a Chinese artist to support the night’s theme of China: Through the Looking Glass. While most celebs work with stylists who pick out their gowns for them, RiRi actually found this dress online while researching Chinese couture. The bright yellow hue and epic fur-trimmed train made this look one for the books.

#4: Cate Blanchett
86th Academy Awards (2014)

Cate Blanchett was nominated for Best Actress at the 2014 Oscars for her role in “Blue Jasmine” and succeeded in taking home the award. Not only that, but she also stunned on the red carpet, in a pretty and feminine gown that proves that sometimes even the bigged fashion risk takers just want to look like a princess for a night. The Armani Privé gown featured beaded applique and a mesh construction that let the adornments go all the way up the neckline. Blanchett paired the garment with what was reportedly millions of dollars worth of jewels, giving her an all over shimmer.

#3: Lady Gaga
76th Golden Globe Awards (2019)

Up until around 2018, we had largely grown accustomed to seeing Lady Gaga in wild outfits at music awards shows that have much more lenient dress codes. But after she starred in “A Star is Born”, she was one of the most high profile attendees at the Oscars and Golden Globes. Her Golden Globes dress was a major Cinderella moment, as she wore a ball gown with puffed off the shoulder sleeves. To make sure things weren’t too cookie cutter, the muted periwinkle shade of the dress was also reflected in Gaga’s hair.

#2: Jennifer Lopez
42nd Annual Grammy Awards (2000)

Worn right at the beginning of the 21st century, we’ll never forget this J. Lo. look even though she wore it two decades ago. When she attended the Grammy Awards in 2000, Lopez wore a green silk chiffon Versace dress featuring a tropical print. The bust of the gown was almost entirely open, as was the skirt, leaving very little to the imagination. This look was certainly racy and noteworthy at the time, even spawning the creation of Google Images because so many people were conducting online searches looking for photos of it. In 2019, Lopez walked the Versace runway and wore an updated version of the dress, still managing to look just as alluring 20 years later.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Saoirse Ronan
90th Academy Awards (2018)

Mandy Moore
83rd Academy Awards (2011)

Eva Longoria
65th Cannes Film Festival (2012)

Hilary Swank
77th Academy Awards (2005)

Cameron Diaz
82nd Academy Awards (2010)

#1: Lupita Nyong’o
86th Academy Awards (2014)

At the 2014 Oscars, Lupita Nyong’o won an award for her performance in “12 Years A Slave” and also landed herself on many people’s radars for her fashion choices. At the time, she was still an up and coming actress, and she opted for something simple yet elegant for her big night. The Prada gown was a pale blue hue that called to mind fairy tale princesses and had a dreamy quality to it. The soft pleats and somewhat Grecian style were classic, and yet somehow the overall effect felt like nothing we had seen before.
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