The Most Iconic Dresses in Red Carpet History
Whether it was because she took home an Oscar in the dress or tripped on the train making her way up the stage (yes, clearly that was a J Law reference), these red carpet looks are iconic in our eyes. In some cases, the details on these gowns are what make them memorable (who could forget Lupita Nyong'o twirling in her Gucci pleats at Cannes?). In other scenarios, these stars wore outfits that were straight-up wild, causing a scene and making a lasting impression as soon as they stepped out of the limo. Ahead, you'll find a handful of leading ladies and the one dress we immediately picture as soon as someone mentions their name.
Drew Barrymore, 1983 Golden Globe Awards
Drew Barrymore at 8 years old attending the Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton in a pink princess style dress.
Madonna, 1984 MTV Video Music Awards
Madonna's "Boy Toy" bridal lingerie look made its way to the very first MTV Video Music Awards. Despite Madonna's notable style evolution, we always trace her back to this cheeky embellished outfit.
Cher, 1986 Oscars
Cher wore this outrageous Bob Mackie look to the ceremony to combat critics who suggested she wasn't nominated for Mask because her fashion sense could not be taken seriously. Those spikes speak volumes.
Julia Roberts, 1990 Oscars
Julia Roberts attended the Oscars in an Armani plain taupe gown along with her boyfriend, Kiefer Sutherland.
Cindy Crawford, 1991 Oscars
Cindy's memorable Versace number featured a sexy, halter-style bodice. The supermodel famously accompanied Richard Gere to the award ceremony.
Marisa Tomei, 1993 Oscars
Marisa Tomei attended the Oscars in a white Chanel dress with black piping and black gloves.
Elizabeth Hurley, 1994 Four Weddings and a Funeral Premiere
Elizabeth Hurley attended the Four Weddings and a Funeral premiere in a black Versace dress.
Kate Moss, 1995 Met Gala
Kate's slinky slip dress was designed by Calvin Klein. While the iconic supermodel wore so many pieces like this one, the backless feature and barely-there straps stand out in our mind.
Mira Sorvino, 1996 Oscars
Mira Sorvino attended the Oscars in an Armani gown.
Susan Sarandon, 1996 Oscars
Susan Sarandon attended the Oscars in a gold Dolce & Gabbana dress.
Sharon Stone, 1998 Oscars
Sharon Stone attended the Oscars in a lilac Vera Wang evening skirt paired with a Gap button-down shirt out of her then-husband's closet.
Gwyneth Paltrow, 1999 Oscars
Gwyneth won the award for best actress in Shakespeare In Love wearing this sugar pink Ralph Lauren creation that came accessorized with a delicate shawl.
Celine Dion, 1999 Oscars
Celine Dion attended the Oscars in a white John Galliano backward tuxedo.
Jennifer Lopez, 2000 Grammy Awards
J Lo's tropical print Versace gown with a deep, deep plunging neckline still inspires Halloween costumes today.
Charlize Theron, 2000 Oscars
Charlize Theron attended the Oscars in an orange Vera Wang gown.
Julia Roberts, 2001 Oscars
Julia won the award for Erin Brockovich in this Valentino design, which her niece, Emma, famously refers to as "the skunk dress."
Bjork, 2001 Oscars
Ah, the iconic Marjan Pejoski bird dress that is now re-created and instantly recognizable upon first glance, however odd the style move might have been.
Halle Berry, 2002 Oscars
Halle's Elie Saab design featured a voluminous burgundy train and a sheer bodice stitched with flowers over her breasts. It was modest and sexy all at once.
Cameron Diaz, 2003 Golden Globe Awards
Cameron Diaz attended the Golden Globes in a short Chanel Haute Couture party dress.
Salma Hayek, 2003 Oscars
Salma Hayek wore a Carolina Herrera gown at the 2003 Oscars.
Sienna Miller, 2004 Oscars
Sienna's Grecian Matthew Williamson gown might not have been her most fashion-forward dress, but it was definitely inspired. Sienna lived out the theme, accessorizing with a gold cuff and dainty drop earrings.
Hilary Swank, 2005 Oscars
Hillary Swank wore a navy Guy Laroche gown at the 2005 Oscars.
Michelle Williams, 2006 Oscars
Michelle's Vera Wang dress popularized the marigold shade, whether or not people liked it.
Nicole Kidman, 2007 Oscars
We'll never forget the floor-trailing Balenciaga bow stitched onto Nicole's column gown.
Penélope Cruz, 2008 Oscars
Penélope Cruz wore a black feather-trimmed Chanel gown at the 2008 Oscars.
Olivia Wilde, 2008 Emmys
Olivia Wilde wore a beaded silver cap-sleeve prom dress to the 2008 Emmys.
Anne Hathaway, 2009 Oscars
Anne Hathaway wore a glittery Armani Prive beaded column dress at the 2009 Oscars.
Blake Lively, 2009 Emmys
Blake Lively wore a red Versace gown with a plunging neckline to the 2009 Emmys.
Zoe Saldana, 2010 Oscars
Zoe Saldana attended the 2010 Oscars boldly in a Givenchy Couture gown.
Sandra Bullock, 2010 Oscars
Sandra Bullock attended the 2010 Oscars in a metallic Marchesa gown with a lace bodice.
Cate Blanchett, 2011 Oscars
Cate's Givenchy cap-sleeve gown featured beautiful embroidery with pops of chartreuse and a stunning fit. It's still one of our favorite red carpet dresses of all time.
Mila Kunis, 2011 Oscars
Mila won countless best dressed polls following the ceremony thanks to this purple lace Elie Saab design.
Emma Stone, 2011 Golden Globe Awards
Emma Stone wore a peachy minimalist Calvin Klein Collection dress at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards.
Angelina Jolie, 2012 Oscars
It seems that now, every time a star flaunts her thigh in a slit, people say, "she pulled an Angelina." That's in reference to the sexy, luxurious Versace dress she wore to the 84th Academy Awards.
Beyoncé Knowles, 2012 Met Gala
We might never forget how the bright purple feathers of Beyoncé's Givenchy train followed her up the Met Gala steps.
Gwyneth Paltrow, 2012 Oscars
Gwyneth Paltrow wore an all-white Tom Ford gown to the 2012 Oscars.
Jennifer Lawrence, 2013 Oscars
Jennifer Lawrence famously tripped on her way up the stairs in this tremendous Dior dress (she was accepting her Oscar for best actress in Silver Linings Playbook), but all the better angle for us to enjoy the diamond chain she wore faced to the back — an effortless style move we'll always appreciate.
Kim Kardashian, 2013 Met Gala
Kim debuted her baby bump in this floral Givenchy dress with a slit and gloves. Some internet memes refer to it as "the sofa dress," but we do think it was a bold move, albeit encouraged by Anna Wintour.
Kerry Washington, 2014 SAG Awards
Kerry bared her baby bump in a Prada crop top we certainly won't forget. It was the ultimate maternity style move that reflected pride and a smart yet playful fashion sense.
Rihanna, 2015 Met Gala
Perhaps no one has better channeled a Met Gala theme than Rihanna, who showed up to the "China: Through the Looking Glass" costume exhibit in Guo Pei, who was being honored at the event. Her golden robe is forever imprinted in our minds.
Lady Gaga, 2015 Oscars
Oh, the memes that were sparked by Lady Gaga's Azzedine Alaïa look. Those red leather gloves will go down in history as some very special red carpet accessories.
Taylor Swift, 2015 Grammy Awards
Taylor definitely had a phase where she liked to bare her legs in chunky platform heels, and this ombré Elie Saab look is a prime example. We'll never forget the signature color combination here: bright blues and fuchsia shoes — unexpected, but very Taylor.
Lupita Nyong'o, 2015 Cannes
Lupita twirled and twirled in this embroidered Gucci number, which Beyoncé later wore to show off her baby bump.
Selena Gomez, 2016 AMA Awards
When Selena showed up to accept her award for favorite pop/rock female artist, she had just taken a hiatus from her career. Her simple red Prada dress spoke volumes. It marked a clean slate for the star, both sartorially and professionally.
Solange Knowles, 2017 Grammy Awards
Solange is known to be a fashion risk-taker. She showed up to the 2017 Grammys in this gold pleated Gucci gown and won her first Grammy of the night for best R&B performance for "Cranes in the Sky."
Bella Hadid, 2017 amfAR Gala
Bella Hadid wore a delicate, icy, sparkly naked dress by René Caovilla to the 2017 amfAR Gala.
Tracee Ellis Ross, 2018 Emmys
Tracee Ellis Ross attended the 2018 Emmys in a hot-pink Valentino Haute Couture gown.
Cardi B, 2019 Grammy Awards
Cardi B attended the 2019 Grammy Awards in a Thierry Mugler dress that emulated an oyster shell.