When it comes to the best red carpet looks of all time, whether it’s the Academy Awards, an international film premiere or the steps of the Met Gala, every red carpet is a runway for celebrities to showcase their style and create an iconic fashion memory that will hopefully propel them to viral stardom and the best-dressed lists.
From demure column gowns to spectacular sequin and feather frocks
and even a dress made of meat, there’s all kinds of ways for celebrities to ensure that their outfit is one of the best red carpet style moments and makes them stand out from their contemporaries.
And, of course, the best red carpet outfits can create inspiration for us all when it comes to our own wardrobes, particularly for party season. From a fresh perspective on the best dresses to discovering new British designer brands or even how jewellery can update an outfit, there’s a style tip or two for everyone.
Best red carpet moments
1. BRITNEY SPEARS AND JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE IN DOUBLE DENIM
It’s been the inspiration for many a couple’s Halloween outfits and it’s a look that is still considered iconic. When Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears appeared on the red carpet at the 2001 American Music Awards in matchy-matchy denim, they became a viral sensation. While the couple didn’t go the distance, this double double denim look lives rent free in every millenial’s mind.
RRP: £49.99 | This denim jacket is ideal for creating an hourglass silhouette. The button fastened straps act to hone your shape, creating a figure flattering peplum. Easily worn with jeans or skirts, this jacket is a delightful twist on a classic.
RRP: £165 | Denim maxi skirts have made a welcome return to our wardrobes and this design with a frayed hem and triangular insert can be dressed up or down. The midi length finish still nods to the maxi style but means you can pair it with boots too.
2. ELIZABETH HURLEY IN VERSACE
It was the dress that turned Elizabeth Hurley into an overnight sensation when she appeared on the arm of then-boyfriend Hugh Grant. Who could forget this Versace safety pin dress on the rep carpet of the British premiere of Four Weddings And A Funeral in 1994? At the time she was equally applauded and criticised for the risqué look which looks positively demure by today’s standards!
3. GWYNETH PALTROW IN RALPH LAUREN
Before Barbiecore was a thing, Gwyneth Paltrow looked serenely elegant in this gorgeous pale pink gown by Ralph Lauren, teamed with a 40 carat diamond choker by Harry Winston at the 1999 Oscars. One of Gwyneth Paltrow best looks, many compared the actress’s look to that of the late Grace Kelly as she accepted the award for Best Actress for her role in Shakespeare in Love.
3. LADY GAGA IN FRANC FERNANDEZ
Vegetarians look away now – Lady Gaga turned both heads and stomachs when she appeared on the red carpet of the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards wearing an outfit made of head-to-toe Flank steak cuts of beef. Designed by Franc Fernandez and styled by Nicola Formichetti, the dress was crowned the top fashion statement of the year by Time magazine.
5. REESE WITHERSPOON IN VINTAGE DIOR
What a dress to collect your Oscar in! Reese Witherspoon opted for an ethereal beaded vintage Christian Dior for the 2006 Academy Awards. Winning Best Actress for her role in Walk The Line, Reese chose to keep the rest of her look simple with just a pair of pink pearl drop earrings for a timelessly elegant style.
6. Michelle Obama 2009 Inauguration Ball in Jason Wu
When Michelle Obama chose a white gown by a then largely unknown Jason Wu for the 2009 Inauguration Ball, she simultaneously launched the designer’s career into the fashion stratosphere while securing herself as Best Dressed First Lady. With firework-like embellishment, the one shoulder gown heralded a new era of style in The White House.
7. BEYONCE IN LANVIN
Ring the alarm! Beyonce certainly set off bells in newsrooms across the globe when she appeared in a tangerine one-shouldered gown by Lanvin at the 2011 MTV Video Movie Awards. The billowing gown and cape detail hid the singer’s first pregnancy perfectly until she cupped her cute bump for the cameras - now that's what we call chic maternity wear!
8. DAPHNE GUINNESS IN ALEXANDER MCQUEEN
A long time friend and supporter of the late Alexander McQueen, Daphne Guinness flew the fashion flag for the designer when she wore one of his archive gowns from her personal archive to the Met Gala event, Savage Beauty, honouring his life’s work. The pale feathered frock was complemented by Guinness’ black and bleached blonde hair for a show stopping look.
9. ROONEY MARA IN GIVENCHY
Rooney Mara’s perfectly cut bangs, strong brows and statement red lips against the pale romantic Givenchy dress she wore to the 2012 Oscars creates the ideal contrast of styles to create a modern take on Old Skool Hollywood Glamour. The delicate lace panelling and sculptural bodice are subtle enough to create understated drama perfect for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo star’s edgy look.
10. BJORK IN MARJAN PEJOSKI
When Icelandic artist Björk chose the now iconic Swan dress by Macdonian designer Marjan Pejoski to wear to the 73rd Academy Awards in 2001, it certainly raised eyebrows. Worn only a matter of weeks after the same frock had been modelled by Alek Wek as part of the designer’s NEWGEN show at London Fashion Week, the singer and performer courted further controversy when her dress proceeded to appear to lay an egg on the red carpet.
11. JESSICA CHASTAIN IN GUCCI
Jessica Chastain looked like a modern day Jessica Rabbit come to life when she wore a custom Gucci green silk lame dress to the Vanity Fair Oscars party in 2022. The green tones of her dress and matching Emerald necklace contrasted beautifully with her flowing red hair. The perfect accessory to complete her look? A box-fresh Best Actress Oscar for her roll in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, of course!
12. KIM KARDASHIAN IN BALENCIAGA
When Kim Kardashian attended the 2022 White House Correspondents Dinner, she pared glittering skin-tight Balenciaga gown with natural makeup and wet look hair plus oversized diamond studs for a chic evening look. The high neck balances the glitzy fabric while the cut away design at the shoulder gives the gown a contemporary look.
13. JANE FONA IN BALMAIN
Proving that style has no age limit, Jane Fonda looked spectacular on the Oscars 2018 red carpet in a figure-hugging Balmain gown with a retro-futuristic white cut out detail neckline that highlighted the fitness guru’s physique. Teamed with gorgeous drop earrings and a matching clutch, the then-80 year old put her younger counterparts in the shade with this flawless fashion moment.
14. GEMMA CHAN IN VALENTINO
While many red carpet attendees opt for figure hugging gown, Gemma Chan opted for precisely the opposite in this breath-taking parachute dress by Valentino for the 2019 Oscars. While the actress often chooses dresses in this girlish colour, the diaphanous shape was a departure from her regular red carpet style. The hot pink was scene stealing and we love the ruffled neckline, plus this dress has pockets!
15. JENNIFER ANISTON IN VINTAGE DIOR
From the cowl neck detail to the perfectly cut bias skirt this vintage John Galliano for Christian Dior silk gown could’ve been made for Friends alum Jennifer Aniston. The actress radiates glamour and elegance in what has become her signature simple-yet-timeless style at the SAG-AFTRA 2020 Awards.
16. SHARON STONE IN VERA WANG
It’s a look that has been copied countless times since - when Sharon Stone appeared on the Oscars red carpet in 1998 wearing a slinky Vera Wang skirt coupled with her partner’s oversized white shirt, the mix of red carpet and relaxed style created a template for fashionistas everywhere.
17. MARION COTILLARD IN DIOR
Another example of modern takes on traditional red carpet tropes comes courtesy of Marion Cotillard. Her Dior Couture column offers a fresh spin on red carpet style with its interesting draped detail, cut away section on the thigh and of course, that bright yellow hue that makes sure she stands out amongst other stars at the BAFTAS 2013.
18. HALLE BERRY IN MARCHESA
Actress Halle Berry looked ethereal in this perfect frothy frock by Marchesa for the Oscars in 2011. With a fitted strapless bodice decorated in delicate silver embellishment and finished with the same featherweight tulle that formed a fishtail train, Berry styled her look to perfection with gobstopper-sized diamond studs and a solitary statement diamond ring.
19. ANGELINA JOLIE IN VERSACE
The stance that launched a thousand memes, Angelina Jolie’s right leg became a star in its own right at the 2012 Oscars. The actress wore a gorgeous strapless black gown by Versace that was split almost to the hip and required a very particular pose to demonstate its design. Teamed with a bouncy blow dry and a bright red lip, this look was Hollywood Glam at its best.
20. KATE HUDSON IN VERSACE
Having lived in the shadow of her famous parents, 2003 saw actress Kate Hudson finally step into the limelight with a series of killer red carpet looks. The best dress? No doubt it has to be her stunning lace Versace gown which was made with actual 14-carat gold handsewn into the stunning dress.
21. VICTORIA AND DAVID BECKHAM IN DOLCE & GABBANA
While David and Victoria Beckham have a history of twinning looks (who could forget THAT double leather look?), it was their matching white and crystal embellished Dolce & Gabbana outfits at the 2003 MTV Movie Awards that have become one of their most memorable red carpet moments.
22. MICHELLE WILLIAMS IN VERA WANG
From the delicate knot detailing to the frothy pleated chiffon along the neckline and deep yolk yellow shade, actress Michelle Williams channeled serious Old Skool style when she wore this beautiful Vera Wang gown for the 2006 Oscars. Finger waves and a red lip complement this glamorous look perfectly.
23. KATE MOSS IN MARC JACOBS
For the 2019 Met Gala, Kate Moss paid attention to the theme of Notes on Camp, appearing in head to toe silver sequins by Marc Jacobs. The glittering gown are completed with a dazzling cape with a puddle train that trailed behind the supermodel as she made her way up the pink carpet.
24. ANNE HATHAWAY IN ARMANI PRIVE
The Devil Wears Prada star Anne Hathaway looked incredible in this pailette sequin column gown by Armani Prive. The diagonal placement of the oversized sequins emphasise the star’s curves while the beaded banding detail at the bust and waist create additional points of interest for a red-carpet-worthy look.
25. SCARLETT JOHANSSON IN OSCAR DE LA RENTA
Scarlett Johansson oozed confidence in this molten metallic gown by Oscar De La Renta at the 2020 Academy Awards. Featuring a strapless bodice made of chainmail-like beading with exposed boning, it showcased several of the actress’s tattoos as well as creating a sensational hourglass silhouette.
26. OLIVIA COLMAN IN STELLA MCCARTNEY
British National Treasure Olivia Colman levelled up her red carpet game for the 2019 Golden Globes in a chic black Stella McCartney dress. Featuring a sparkling crystal mesh high neckline and matching sheer sleeves that appeared from beneath a black cape dress overlay. The actress clearly had a winning look, going on to scoop a Best Actress award for her role in The Favourite.
27. JADA PINKETT-SMITH IN JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER X GLENN MARTENS
Her stunning red carpet look for the 2022 Oscars might’ve been overshadowed by her husband’s outburst at presenter Chris Rock but we can’t forget how incredible Jada Pinkett-Smith looked in this out of this world green taffeta creation by fashion enfant terrible Jean-Paul Gualtier and his own protegee Glenn Martens.
28. MARGOT ROBBIE IN CHANEL
As a Chanel ambassador, you can count on Margot Robbie to always look fabulous when she hits the red carpet. Case in point? This archive style from the brand’s 1994 collection. Featuring a statement brooch and caped sleeves, all it need is a slick of red lipstick to finish her look.
29. LUPITA N'YONG'O IN PRADA
Lupita N’yong’o has long had a relationship with Prada, making some of her earliest red carpet appearances in dresses from the Italian fashion house but we love this gold and pink sequin number the actress wore to the 2022 Academy Awards. With a subtle polka dot motif and multiple sequin types, this shimmering concoction is just the right side of fun fashion for the red carpet.
30. CAREY MULLIGAN IN PRADA
When Carey Mulligan took to the red carpet in 2010 in a custom mullet-hemmed Prada dress complete with tiny nut and bolt embellishments, it was a fresh take on red carpet dressing for a new generation. With a pixie crop and huge chandelier earrings, it was the perfect ingenue look.
31. ZOE SALDANA IN GIVENCHY HAUTE COUTURE
There’s not many people who could carry off a purple ombre taffeta skirted gown with a crystal-embellished bodice but actress Zoe Saldana certainly proved her style nous when she wore this gorgeous, off-beat Haute Couture creation by French fashion house Givenchy to the 2010 Oscars.
32. SALMA HAYEK IN PRADA
The navy Prada dress that Salma Hayek chose for the 2005 Oscars highlights every curve of the Spanish actress’s phenomenal figure. With a deep neckline, fitted waisted and fishtail hem, the embellished applique detailed dress made sure that all eyes were on Salma as she walked the red carpet.
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Antonia Kraskowski is a freelance fashion editor with over 15 years of experience in the industry.
Having started her career at Conde Nast working for titles including Easy Living, Glamour and Vogue New Markets, Antonia went on to work in the fast-paced world of newspapers and weekly magazines, becoming Fashion Editor at Express Newspapers and Magazines in 2014, a role she held for five years before going freelance.
Her career has seen Antonia travel the world, shooting in 18 countries and styling campaigns for brands ranging from Ben Sherman and DKNY to Wallis.