The Academy Awards ceremony is a night filled with glitz and glamour, and the stars' designer outfits are just as anticipated as the announced winners. The Oscars have stayed glamorous throughout the years, and in honor of that we took a look at the most glamorous celebs at the Oscars decades ago. We looked at Old Hollywood stars, and took a deep-dive into their outfits, seeing not only who designed their dresses but also the story behind some of the designs.
1. 1941: Carmen Miranda
Portuguese-born Brazilian actress Carmen Miranda stole the show at the 1941 Oscars with her dress and head wrap. This was the same year she came to Hollywood and the same year she became the first Latin American artist to cement her feet and hands on the sidewalk of the Chinese Theater and have a gold star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
2. 1941: Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers attended the 13th Annual Academy Awards with her mother, Lela Rogers, as her date. Since the world was in the middle of World War II at the time, the Academy requested that the attendees wear dark, understated clothing to respect the somber mood of the wartime reality.
3. 1948: Loretta Young
In 1948, Loretta Young won the Best Actress accolade for her role in Farmer's Daughter. She marked the event by wearing a voluminous, emerald-green dress, which had a garland of oversized bows and ruffles running down the length of the skirt. The bright green dress was paired with elbow-length gloves in the same color, creating a fashion-forward picture.
4. 1951: Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe wore this black off-the-shoulder gown in tulle to the 1951 Oscars. She selected the elegant frock from the 20th Century Fox wardrobe department for the 23rd Annual Academy Awards. It is possible that William Travilla designed this gown, since he designed the majority of her movie outfits — including the white halter top dress from 1955's The Seven Year Itch.
5. 1953: Liz Taylor
A 21-year-old Elizabeth Taylor and her husband, Michael Wilding, showed up arm in arm to the 1953 Oscars. Taylor arrived at the Academy Awards in a ruffled pink gown, which curiously ended up in a thrift shop decades later. An antique enthusiast found it while on a road trip with a girlfriend, and spotted the dress nailed to the wall of an antique shop while shopping. When she looked at the label of the dress, she saw the typewritten name "Elizabeth Taylor." She bought it for only $20!
6. 1954: Audrey Hepburn
In 1954, Audrey Hepburn won her very first Oscar for her portrayal of a princess in Roman Holiday. She wore a demure white lace dress by Givenchy for the event, and the gown became immortalized when she won the Best Actress nomination.
7. 1955: Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly not only made headlines in 1955 for winning her first and only Academy Award, but also because she wore a news-worthy gown that was fit for a Hollywood starlet. The blue, French silk gown Kelly wore was designed by none other than the legendary costume designer Edith Head, who received 35 Oscar nominations and eight wins in her long career in the film industry. According to Elle, Head described the hue as "blue champagne," and it went on to become one of the most memorable gowns in Academy Awards history.
8. 1956: Grace Kelly
Kelly's Oscar red carpet dresses were always flawless. This is the dress she wore for her last public appearance in Hollywood, which was created by Helen Rose.
9. 1960: Janet Leigh
Janet Leigh showed up shimmering like a siren to the 1960 Oscars, with her husband, fellow actor Tony Curtis, at her side. Leigh captured the Space Race-inspired fashions of the '60s with her belted sheath that summoned The Jetsons with its sharp upturned collar, angled cap sleeves, and angular silhouette.
10. 1960: Ava Gardner
Ava Gardner was also feeling glittery that night, and chose to wear a silver sequined halter dress that she accented with white silk gloves, a white fur stole, and a diamond belle epoque tiara.
11. 1961: Liz Taylor
In 1961, Elizabeth Taylor won the Best Actress statue for her portrayal of Manhattan call girl Gloria Wandrous in Butterfield 8. For the event, Taylor wore a color blocked Christian Dior gown that was accented with a red rosette at the waist.
12. 1962: Rita Moreno
When Rita Morena won Best Supporting Actress in 1962 for her role in West Side Story, all eyes were on her fabulous dress. Her Japanese-influenced gown was so amazing, in fact, that she decided to wear it again to the Academy Awards 56 years later, in 2018!
13. 1968: Audrey Hepburn
In 1968, Audrey Hepburn was nominated for Best Actress for her work in Wait Until Dark, and while she didn't win, she walked across the red carpet in the most beautiful Givenchy gown. The dress was ahead of its time, and perfectly captured the Mod movement. This pearl-and-flower-encrusted gown featured a sweet bow that offset a bold cutout at the chest, making it look like she wore a vest sans shirt.
14. 1968: Angie Dickinson
In 1968, Angie Dickinson showed up to the Oscars red carpet "dressed to kill." She wore a bold gown, which consisted of a sleeveless turtleneck that had an unexpected midriff in the middle held together by a lattice. The Charlotte News reported that Dickinson "wore the craziest dress of the evening," while the Associated Press called her cut-out gown an "eye popper."
15. 1969: Barbra Streisand
Ties aren't uncommon at the Academy Awards, but the 1969 split between newcomer Barbara Streisand and two-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn became one of the most memorable ones. Streisand was nominated for Funny Girl and Hepburn was nominated for The Lion in the Winter, but Streisand stole the show thanks to Hepburn's absence.
16. 1969: Diahann Carroll
In 1969, Diahann Carroll was a presenter at the 41st Academy Awards. She lit up the stage in her pale pink empire dress that added an ethereal quality to the evening. The delicate dress was accented with a sheer overlay robe, which shimmered with crystals.
17. 1969: Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin looked positively regal as she performed at the 1969 Academy Awards.
18. 1973: Cher
Cher's first Oscar appearance was in 1968, and she wouldn't be back on the red carpet until five years later, in 1973. She returned to the awards show in a gold, sari-inspired Bob Mackie creation. Traditionally, the Oscars were — and still are — very conservative in dress. Remember how Edith Head was named the Oscars’ first fashion consultant, making sure starlets wore modest dresses to not tick off censors? Well, Cher had always been one to flout convention, and she came in a sheer frock that flashed toned abs.
19. 1973: Diana Ross
Diana Ross embraced the gender nonconformity of the 1970s by attending the Academy Awards in a three-piece white silk suit in 1973. That year, she was nominated for Best Actress for her role in Lady Sings the Blues, which was her first ever movie role. Cicely Tyson was also nominated for Best Actress that year, making it the first and only time two Black women were nominated for Best Actress in the same year. However, Liza Minnelli took the win for her role in Cabaret.
20. 1974: Tatum O'Neal
Tatum O'Neal might have been little, but she had a big talent. In 1974, at just 10 years old, she became the youngest Oscar winner in history when she received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Paper Moon, which she starred opposite her father, Ryan O'Neal.
21. 1977: Cicely Tyson
For the 1977 Oscars, Cicely Tyson went hyper-feminine in a flowing lace dress with an off-the shoulder neckline and ruffled sleeves. She accented the romantic look with a floral bouquet choker.
22. 1978: Farrah Fawcett
Fawcett decided to go in a slinky gold dress to the 1978 Oscars, where she presented the award for Best Film Editing. The gold chainmail tank dress dipped low at the neckline and embodied Studio 54 with the liquid-like silhouette. The gown fell to the floor, and had an open back and dangerously open sides. The piece was created by the celebrated designer Stephen Burrows.
23. 1978: Cicely Tyson
In 1978, Cicely Tyson arrived to the Academy Awards wearing a white pleated tunic and bold gold accessories. She accessorized the look with a fur vest on the red carpet, but took off that layer for the ceremony.
24. 1986: Cher
Cher, aka the Queen of Headdresses, wore a Bob Mackie creation to the 1986 Oscars. But while now we see her as a red carpet icon, back in the '80s her flamboyant style was actually hurting her career. Case in point: she didn't win an Oscar that year.
25. 1986: Oprah
Oprah dressed in a sizzling white dress to the Academy Awards, but she wasn't in love with the gown. In fact, she was so nervous about how she looked that she hoped she wouldn't win the Oscar!
26. 1987: Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor looked like a character from Dynasty in her Nolan Miller dress at the 1987 Oscars. And for good reason: Miller was the designer behind the iconic looks that Joan Collins and Linda Evans wore on the show. "I want to wear something they would not expect of me, something simple," she told Miller during their fittings. So he created a pink satin dress that matched her earrings.
27. 1988: Cher At The Oscars
Two years after wearing her Mohawk headdress, Cher wore another Bob Mackie outfit that might have topped the first. It appeared that Cher was the originator of "the naked dress" on the red carpet, and her barely there gown overshadowed her Best Actress win that year for her role in Moonstruck.
28. 1989: Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster received her first Oscar nomination at 14 years old, for her role playing a child sex worker in Taxi Driver. After attending college at Yale, Foster went on to portray a rape survivor in 1988's legal drama The Accused, for which she won her first Oscar. Here she is at the 1989 Academy Awards with her statue backstage, wearing a blue taffeta dress.
29. 1990: Kim Basinger
n 1990, Kim Basinger wore one of the most controversial gowns in red carpet history to the Oscars: her half-tuxedo, half-ballgown dress. Following the success of Batman and 9½ Weeks, Basinger was one of the most buzzed-about actresses that year. She was untouchable, and decided to mark the occasion with a custom dress she designed herself. The "Frankenstein-like ensemble" (Vogue's words) had one collar popped, one arm gloved, and one satin sleeve with musical notes.