The Oscar Dresses That Started Trends

by Rosie Narasaki
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The Academy Awards have been a great source of fashion inspiration since its inception back in 1929. It's a night where stars don their very best, and many iconic looks have come out of the show over the years. What are some Oscar dresses that started trends, though? Which movie stars stand out as fashion trailblazers paving the way for red carpet generations to come? Well, whether you're talking very high bars set by classic movie stars like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, or more out-there risky-risque looks worn by music icons like Barbra Streisand and Cher, there have been a lot of trendsetting Academy Awards dresses over the years.

While 2017's Oscar red carpet trends will likely cover everything from the boudoir-inspired look that's been popular over the last several years, as well as a lot of pink (if the recent pink-dominated Screen Actors Guild Awards are to be taken as any indication), 2017 is just the latest in literally 89 years worth of awards ceremonies. Suffice it to say, there have been many, many dresses that really shook things up — so let's take a look at 11 dresses from the Academy Awards red carpet that totally changed the game, in ways both big and small.

1. Audrey Hepburn, 1954

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Givenchy's certainly changed over the past sixty-plus years, hasn't it? Audrey Hepburn's iconic dress by Hubert de Givenchy is a far cry from, say, this avant garde beaded number worn by Cate Blanchett in 2011. Still, the understated glamour of Hepburn's eyelet dress is a brass ring that women on the Academy Awards red carpet have been trying to grab ever since she debuted the look back in 1954.

2. Grace Kelly, 1955

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This Edith Head-designed confection may as well have started it all: It certainly paved the way for many an Oscars dress over the years with its strikingly simple brand of glamour.

3. Barbra Streisand, 1969

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Leave it to Barbra Streisand to revolutionize the Oscars red carpet with the whole sheer trend, a good several decades before the look became mainstream.

4. Diane Keaton, 1978

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Evan Rachel Wood and Octavia Spencer made waves in menswear-inspired ensembles at the recent Golden Globes Awards, but Diane Keaton was one of the first to pioneer the look on the Oscars red carpet.

5. Cher, 1988

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These days, stars like Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez are known for donning bejeweled "naked" dresses. Cher majorly turned heads when she wore the now nearly standard look in a stunning creation designed by Bob Mackie back in 1988 — and at the relatively conservative Oscars, no less.

6. Uma Thurman, 1995

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Following her nomination for Pulp Fiction, Uma Thurman's pale lavender Prada gown helped both her célébrité and the then lesser-known fashion house skyrocket into the stratosphere. It made such an impression, in fact, that it's often credited as one of the dresses that made the Oscars red carpet a true fashion destination.

7. Nicole Kidman, 1997

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Back when she was still married to Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman lit up the red carpet in a haute couture dress designed by John Galliano for Christian Dior. The one-of-a-kind chartreuse number upped the ante for the red carpet in a major way — nowadays, haute couture is almost de rigeur for all the biggest stars, but it wasn't always like that before Nicole Kidman.

8. Gwyneth Paltrow, 1999

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Gwyneth Paltrow's iconic bubblegum pink Ralph Lauren ball gown epitomized the whole princess look. Since it debuted almost twenty years ago, countless young stars have emulated the pale pink glamour, from Felicity Jones at the premiere of The Theory of Everything, to Carey Mulligan at the premiere of The Great Gatsby, to Jennifer Lawrence when she took home the Academy Award for Silver Linings Playbook.

9. Halle Berry, 2002

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Halle Berry made history in more than one way: by being the first black woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress, and by wearing one of the most talked-of gowns ever. She wore sheer, voluminous Elie Saab adorned with oversized flowers. Few have managed to pull as big a fashion coup since, but many have tried.

10. Marion Cotillard, 2008

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Marion Cotillard really took the red carpet to the next level in her intricate, mermaid-inspired gown from Christian Dior.

11. Gwyneth Paltrow, 2012

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After Gwyneth wore this caped Tom Ford number at the Oscars, caped dresses started popping up everywhere, on everyone from Queen Elsa to Lupita Nyong'o.

Who do you think will shake up the red carpet this year? Here's hoping young stars like Emma Stone and Natalie Portman take on the mantle of the fearlessly fashionable stars that came before them.