A century in Oscars dresses; the most iconic red carpet moments from every decade

On 16 May 1929, just under 300 of the entertainment industry's most elite contributors gathered at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel. It was the first ever Academy Awards ceremony.

With an intimate dinner for only 270 guests, it was far from the grandiose affair we know it as today. The Oscars are now watched by millions of fans in over 200 countries.

But the one thing that has proven to be a constant throughout the years, is the phenomenal show of dresses and attention they bring. We take a look at the most iconic and memborable Oscars looks from every decade, from 1929-2014.

1920s - Janet Gaynor

Oscars first

While It may be simple, Janet Gaynor's knitwear, skirt, socks and sneakers combination will go down in history as the first outfit worn by a Best Actress Academy Award winner. It captured the simplicity and newness of the event.

1930s - Helen Hayes

Helen Hayes
Helen Hayes

Her career spanned 80 years, but in 1932 - when the Academy Awards were just in its fifth year - Helen Hayes won a best actress Oscar for The Sin of Madelon Claudet.

She was one of the first women to bring a sense of creativity to the red carpet with this embellished asymmetric black satin dress and fingerless white gloves. The designer of the gown is unknown but it is thought Gilbert Adrian,costume designer for The Sin of Madelon Claudet, could be the creative hands behind this look.

Hayes went on to win many more awards and is one of twelve people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award.

1940s - Olivia De Havilland

Olivia De Havilland
Olivia De Havilland

In 1947, Olivia De Havilland accepted her best actress Oscar for To Each His Own in duck-egg blue ball gown by Ann Lowe. The beauty was in the delicate vine of flowers which wined from the bottom of the gown, all the way up to its sweetheart neckline. 

1950s - Audrey Hepburn

audrey hepburn oscars, 1954
audrey hepburn oscars, 1954

Audrey Hepburn accepted her Best Actress statue (for Roman Holiday) wearing a white A-line belted dress by Hubert de Givenchy, featuring floral embroidery and Hepburn's signature boat-neck. The star was Givenchy's muse and this dress was a perfect example of Hepburn's unique blend of sophistication, elegance and sweetness. 

1960s - Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor oscars

Elizabeth Taylor won her first of two Oscars in 1960 (for Butterfield 8) wearing a stunning yellow and white Christian Dior gown. It was also the first time she made an appearance bearing her tracheotomy scar having suffered from a bout of near-fatal pneumonia a few weeks before whilst filming Cleopatra.

1970s - Farah Fawcett

Farah Fawcett

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In the 70s the Oscars red carpet suddenly turned hip with the likes of Jane Fonda turning up an androgynous Yves Saint Laurent suit, Faye Dunaway wearing the billowy sleeves of the era and film star of the moment, Charlie's Angels actress Farrah Fawcett rocking up in a slinky gold dress and her trademark, feathered hair to present at the 50th Academy Awards.

1980s - Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster accepts her Oscar for The Accused in an off the rack dress.
Jodie Foster accepts her Oscar for The Accused in an off the rack dress.

The 80s saw a spectrum of interesting and bold dressed at the Oscars - most notably Cher's sheer sequin Bob Mackie dress. But Jodie Foster takes the award for the best look in what she claims was an off-the-rack dress. She also won best actress on the night for The Accused.

1990s - Gwyneth Paltrow


The Oscars dresses of the 90s were full of the style of the era - spaghetti straps and chokers. No other star captured the look of the decade than Best Actress Oscar-nominee Gwyneth Paltrow (for Shakespeare in Love) in a pink Ralph Lauren ball gown.

2000s - Halle Berry

Halle Berry
Halle berry

When Halle Berry walked out on the red carpet in 2002, she had everyone talking about her half-net half-dramatic-train gown by Elie Saab. She went onto win a best a actress Oscar for Monster’s Ball that night and sealed her name on the list of fashion's most iconic looks of all time. 

2010s - Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence 2013 Oscars
Jennifer Lawrence 2013 Oscars
Jennifer Lawrence 2013 Oscars

Jennifer Lawrence was radiant in this dramatic ivory Christian Dior gown and a gorgeous Chopard necklace dripping down her back. She famously - and charmingly - tripped over on her way to accept her Best Actress award for her role in Silver Linings Playbook.

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