Kerry Washington just wore a dress that Whitney Houston donned in the '90s and she looks phenomenal

If you recognize the red velvet dress that Kerry Washington just wore, it's because the late, great Whitney Houston donned it first

Kerry Washington
(Image credit: Rodin Eckenroth/GA / Contributor)

Kerry Washington showed up at the American Black Film Festival Honors this past weekend wearing a beautiful red velvet dress that looked incredibly familiar. 

Turns out, as explained by Kerry herself, who has taken the style crown multiple times before, the look was first worn by the late, great Whitney Houston during the BET Walk of Fame Awards gala in 1996 while she performed on stage.

Stylist Law Roach worked with Kerry on the look and it seems like vintage is his thing these days. Just last month, he dressed his client Zendaya in a spring 2002 couture Versace dress during her appearance at the NAACP Image Awards.

The 46-year-old actress uploaded two posts to her Instagram account celebrating the style moment. In the first one, a video, she's rocking the outfit while lip-syncing to Whitney's iconic song I Have Nothing.

She captioned the clip, "No lies told. Whitney Houston's ACTUAL Marc Mouwer dress she wore in 1996 😱. Sooooooo incredibly special. #ABFFAwards here I come! ❤️❤️❤️"

The second upload includes two different photos, one a closeup of the star's makeup and the other a full look at the beautiful red dress, which Kerry paired with stilettos of the same hue and a couple of rings.

Clearly a moment worth talking about, Kerry’s decision to mimic the diva’s look was met with enthusiasm and criticism alike. 

On the one hand, fans praised her sense of style and ability to always stand out among other celebrities (“I guarantee Whitney is honored an iconic queen like you is wearing it," one user commented). Others however argued that looking through a late celebrity’s fashion archives doesn’t ever feel quite right ("Why do y’all like wearing dead people’s clothes?? I genuinely would like to be educated," someone else tweeted).

The comments were perhaps also the result of yet another "copy cat" red carpet event, courtesy of Kim Kardashian. At the Met Gala 2022, in fact, Kim famously wore Marilyn Monroe's dress and the man who designed it called the decision a "big mistake."

"I thought it was a big mistake," designer Bob Machie said to Entertainment Weekly back then. "[Marilyn] was a goddess. A crazy goddess, but a goddess. She was just fabulous. Nobody photographs like that. And it was done for her. It was designed for her. Nobody else should be seen in that dress."

Of course, if Kerry’s captions and red carpet commentary are of any indication, the move was meant to serve as a tribute to the late artist, who is the subject of the Whitney Houston I Wanna Dance with Somebody biopic.

And yet, as is always the case with all things Hollywood, there is always somebody ready to pounce on the offensive. For what it’s worth, we thought Kerry looked fabulous and her appearance made us miss Whitney even more.

Anna Rahmanan

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.