Magazine article Variety

When Style Is Substance

Magazine article Variety

When Style Is Substance

Article excerpt

Award shows aren't just about celebrities bringing home shiny trophies - sometimes they are the shiny trophies. Fashion labels grapple for A-listers to be their life-size Ken or Barbie this time of year because they know that these events can be better product placement than an editorial spread in Elle.

To prove that point, here are some more memorable gowns and the designers who made them happen.

Alexander McQueen

People remember Gwyneth Paltrow's (1) seethrough, goth-inspired McQueen from the 2002 Oscars, but he also designed the gold-embroidered forest-green Givenchy gown Kate Winslet wore to the 1998 Oscars. Since the designer's death in 2010, the fashion house - now overseen by creative director Sarah Burton of Kate Middleton wedding dress fame - has designed looks worn by the likes of Cate Blanchett at the 2014 BAFTAs and Jessica Chastain at the 2012 Oscars.


Giorgio Armani and Jodie Foster have a long-lived love affair. In addition to some of her costumes on film (he most recently designed some of the looks for last summer's "Elysium"), he notably designed the light-pink pants suit she wore to the 1992 Oscars and her floor-length, long-sleeved beaded gown for the 1995 ceremony, among others. He also made Jessica Chastain (2) shine in 2013 in a crystal-bedecked strapless gold gown from the Armani Prive couture collection.

Bob Mackie

Bob Mackie and Cher's relationship dates back to "The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour" and includes plenty of notorious ensembles, including the midriff-baring, black-beaded number (3) he designed for her to present the supporting actor award (and mock the Academy's dress-code policy) at the 1986 Oscars. Author Bronwyn Cosgrave writes that Mackie created the exotic, Dorothy Lamour-inspired two-piece for Cher to wear to the 1973 awards - the same year he dressed Diana Ross in a satin trouser suit.


Jennifer Lawrence (4) wore Dior Couture to accept her 2012 Oscar and is the face of this spring's Miss Dior campaign, while Charlize Theron's 2011 J'adore commercial is an award show staple for those watching at home. Before them, Celine Dion famously wore a white Dior suit jacket backward to the 1999 Oscars and Elizabeth Taylor was all floral-splattered Dior and updo in 1961 when she picked up her first Oscar (Reese Witherspoon also wore - vintage - Dior in 2006 to collect her Oscar). But perhaps most daring of all is the slinky chartreuse number former Dior creative director John Galliano designed in 1997 that helped ensure we never forget the name Nicole Kidman (5).

Edith Head

The beloved Paramount and Universal costume designer's partnership with her femme stars extended after the films had wrapped. She designed Audrey Hepburn's delicate feminine wardrobe for "Roman Holiday," including the belted lace design that was adapted for the doe-eyed star to wear the night she accepted her Oscar for that role. Head also designed Grace Kelly's ice-blue French satin Oscar dress from 1955 and Elizabeth Taylor's (6) voluptuous, violet chiffon from 1970 that paired with the actress's famous eyes... and her eye shadow.

Elle Saab

The intricate burgundy gown Halle Berry (7) wore during her tearful 2002 Oscar acceptance speech made the Lebanese designer Elie Saab an overnight sensation. Since then, his red-carpet looks have appeared on the likes of Mila Kunis (8) (at the 2011 Oscars), Li Bingbing (at the 2013 Golden Horse Awards), Rihanna (at the 2010 Grammy Awards) and Amy Adams (at the 2011 BAFTAs).

Irene Gibbons

After wearing corsets and hoop skirts for "Gone With the Wind," Vivien Leigh went bra-less in a red poppy-print Irene Gibbons gown to accept her lead actress Oscar in 1940, according to Bronwyn Cosgrave's "Made for Each Other: Fashion and the Academy Awards. …

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