The 10 Greatest Oscar Gowns Of All Time
Feb 24, 2011 - by Lester Brathwaite
The Academy Awards are this Sunday which means that Los Angeles is full of starving actresses hurling Blackberrys and iPhones at frightened assistants and Rachel Zoe is teetering around on her swollen ankles trying to find a gown for Demi that hasn't already been claimed by an actual nominee while coordinating Anne Hathaway's 55 looks. So in celebration and in anticipation, we present to you, in no particular order, the 10 greatest Oscar gowns...wait for it...OF ALL TIME.
So what is a great Oscar gown? It's a dress that is memorable, history-making, scene-stealing or just plain fucking perfect. With that, I just don't get the fuss over Gwyneth's pink prom dress and refuse to even acknowledge that gown or the fact that she has an Oscar.
Audrey Hepburn (1954) Auds became a star and a fashion icon that night when she wore Givenchy, beginning a lifetime collaboration between the star and designer. Along with America's heart, she took home the Best Actress trophy for her debut performance in Roman Holiday.
Elizabeth Taylor (1961) In the pantheon of great movie stars, few shine brighter or longer than Liz Taylor, thus a list of the greatest Oscar gowns could barely be considered legitimate without Liz throwing her white diamonds into the mix -- I hear they've always brought her luck. Taylor won her first of two Oscars for BUtterfield 8 and wore this gorgeous Christian Dior number to claim her statuette. It's generally accepted -- even by Liz herself -- that Taylor won the award through a vote of sympathy after losing her husband Mike Todd in a plane crash -- only to seek comfort with Debbie Reynolds' then-husband Eddie Fisher -- and suffering a life-threatening illness during filming - at one point she was actually pronounced dead. Six years later she took home a well-deserved trophy for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Cher (1984) Cher might have proved that she was a serious actress with her Oscar-nominated turn as Meryl Streep's lesbian lover in Silkwood, but she's still fucking Cher. The icon wore Bob Mackie (natch) to the 1984 ceremony but lost only to win three years later for Moonstruck. And that gown was no less show-stopping, but didn't have this amazing headdress.
Halle Berry (2002) Halle Berry not only became the first African American to win a Best Actress Academy Award that night, but she also launched Elie Saab into the sartorial stratosphere. This was Berry's and Saab's shining moment and everything since then has been an enormous letdown. On both their parts.
Barbra Streisand (1969) Eschewing tradition and helping to usher in a new generation of movie star, Babs wore a see-through sequined sailor pantsuit by Arnold Scaasi. It was a big gamble but La Streisand came out the winner and made history by tying for Best Actress with Katharine Hepburn when they won for Funny Gir l and Lion in Winter, respectively. Kate chose not to attend because, honestly, it was her third (of four) Oscars and she couldn't have been bothered.
Celine Dion (1999) Was it a stroke of genius that caused Celine Dion to turn her Christian Dior blazer back-to-front or did she simply forget to take her medication that day? Either way, Celine was memorable the year after her heart went on and on to win Best Original Song (though the award itself went to the songwriters, I. Dunno and No-one Cares).
Nicole Kidman (1997) Nikki Kids was a greenhorn on the red carpet before this Dior gown and became one of its reigning queens after. Though she gave an incredible performance the previous year in To Die For, she won in 2003 for her brilliant portrayal of Virginia Woolf in the saddest movie ever made, otherwise known as The Hours. Nominated this year for her third Oscar for Rabbit Hole, she's got some big shoes to fill: her own.
Anjelica Huston (1976) Former Halston model Anjelica Huston looked flawless and managed to do what few people can claim: take attention away from Jack Nicholson, who won his first of three Oscars that year for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Huston would claim her own statuette, for Best Supporting Actress, a decade later for Prizzi's Honor, also starring Nicholson.
Sharon Stone (1999) I usually spell "batshit crazy" S-H-A-R-O-N-S-T-O-N-E, but Stone looked the picture of elegance in a Vera Wang skirt paired with a Gap button down. The marriage of high and low was made in heaven that night, though I still couldn't tell you why she was at the ceremony that year. But like most things with Sharon Stone, I don't question it.
Björk (2001) The dress that launched a thousand jokes, Björk's Marjan Pejoski swan dress was perhaps the last epic thing to stroll down the Oscar red carpet. Nommed for Best Original Song that year, Björk may have left empty-handed but no one will ever forget that she was there.
Who will leave tongues hanging or heads scratching at this year's Academy Awards. Of the 10 Best Lead and Supporting Actress nominees, I'm most looking forward to Kidman, teen breakthrough Hailee Steinfeld (as well as peer Elle Fanning who will get her own nomination one day), the almost always flawless Michelle Williams and kooky Helena Bonham Carter.
Unfortunately, Natalie Portman is preggers so naturally I have no interest in what she's wearing and just hope her water doesn't break while accepting her award.
Photos: Vogue UK, Time