Fashion / Style

Now Hear This — Our All-Time Favorite Oscar Looks

The Stars and Dresses That Left an Unforgettable Impression Long Past the Red Carpet Noise

BY // 02.22.19

Only a few of us at the Dallas PaperCity offices were glued to our television sets for the Super Bowl. However, this Sunday the majority of us will be tuned in for the 91st Academy Awards. In fact, like a sports betting pool, we downloaded Vanity Fair‘s awards ballot and have it all filled out and have put it away in our vault to see who wins on Monday.

Another reason we all watch, beyond the movie awards, is the red carpet. I’ve long been fascinated by the parade of gowns and tuxedos that accompany these events. In fact, please check out my long-winded ode to my personal favorite Oscar looks, which were primarily from the 1970s.

In this week’s Now Hear This PaperCity office question we ask: What’s your favorite Oscars look?

Christina Geyer, Dallas Editor in Chief

My choice for favorite Academy Awards look doesn’t go to just one person. No, it goes to everyone who was dressing for the red carpet prior to the 2000s. For that was a time when actors were making their own choices as to what they wanted to wear. 

The stars weren’t over-styled, nor were they wearing looks from a designer with whom they had a multi-million dollar ambassador contract. 

Elizabeth Anthony

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Stylists weren’t dressing actors for the sake of making a best dressed list in People magazine — and the actors were actually buying (can you imagine!?) their own gowns, tuxes, jewels and accessories for the occasion. 

It was about real style back then — not the fabricated, highly calculated so-called style of today, which is really only to the benefit of big brands in the business of landing press coverage or gazillions of Instagram likes. 

There was imagination back then, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. Not to mention, the clothes rarely overshadowed the person wearing them. Take, for example, Audrey Hepburn — we all remember her for her beauty (inside and out) and impeccable taste, but do we really ever identify her by a single red carpet look? Nope.

Same goes for actors such as Grace Kelly, Barbra Streisand, even the grande dames of the red carpet today such as Meryl Streep. We know they always show up well-dressed, but never do the clothes make the woman — the woman and her innate sense of self makes the clothes.

Oscar looks Paltrow
When it comes to the Oscars, the clothes shouldn’t make the woman, the woman should make the clothes.

Lisa Collins Shaddock, Senior Editor

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been completely enchanted by the Oscars. Each year, I would look forward to poring over every red carpet look and dreaming about what I would wear when my nomination inevitably was on the ballot (it could still happen).

The archives are a treasure trove of fashion inspiration, 90 years and counting — Grace Kelly’s mint green satin gown by Edith Head, Lauren Hutton in sherbert-hued Halston and fur, Julianne Moore in custom Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld — but there are two recent looks that are currently at the top of my list – both of which garnered harsh reviews from the critics. Saoirse Ronan’s pink Calvin Klein last year and Marion Cotillard in Dior in 2015.

What can I say? A statement back always wins in my book.

Billy Fong, Culture and Style Editor

Since I already wrote up most of my favorite looks in the accompanying feature to this week’s Now Hear This, I thought I’d save one to be part of the team responses. That said, my eyes opened wide in 1995 when Uma Thurman glided on stage in her lilac Prada gown.

Hold the phone. I was an early adopter of the 1990s minimalist aesthetic and had become enamored with the Antwerp Six designers. However, this was entirely new and fresh. It wasn’t severe minimalism. It was ethereal and glamorous.

As this was pre-internet, I ran straight to Barnes and Noble (remember those dinosaurs?) to thumb through every fashion magazine to learn more about Prada. A year later I had saved up for my first, black nylon Prada backpack.

For me, Thurman’s gown was the last one that truly took my breath away in the last 20-plus years.

Hillery Stack, Dallas Publisher

Hands down, Julia Roberts circa 2001 Oscar win… Vintage Valentino? Yes, please!  She looked so elegant and regal, and I am a sucker for an illusion neckline. America’s Sweetheart finally won a much deserved Oscar, and she absolutely slayed the red carpet.

Linda Kenney, Account Manager

Raf Simon’s 2013 Christian Dior Couture Collection featured a white ball gown with a voluminous skirt. This glorious piece of artwork was Jennifer Lawrence’s choice for the Oscars in 2013.

Yes, she tripped on the skirt as she rushed to collect her Oscar — but it only added charm to an incredible look.

Samantha Olguin, Dallas Sales Account Director

Gwyneth Paltrow in the white Tom Ford cape gown circa 2012 is my newest obsession —  I love capes and I love white gowns. But then… there is Nicole Kidman in the scarlet Balenciaga gown in 2007. I mean, two words: Show. Stopper.

Side note: can we talk about her skin for a moment? I mean the woman is now in her fifties and her complexion glows brighter than mine — is it really the Neutrogena? If so, I need to cry about all the money I spend on my skincare and get back to basics. 

I mean she’s not a real human, in Big Little Lies, she gets more beautiful with age if that is at all possible. Clearly, I have a girl crush. She also rocks snow white skin like it is her job, so my pale-self likes to take notes. 

But back to the Oscars, as an ode to the one and only, Karl Lagerfeld and my love for his Choupette, I had to also select a classic Chanel. And Margot Robbie in this white gown circa 2018 is stunning. The beadwork on this beauty with the dainty handbag, I die!

There is nothing like a classic white silhouette to remind you who has elegance and class and who doesn’t. And Margot certainly does. I mean like Karl said, “Elegance is physical quality. If a woman doesn’t have it naked, she’ll never have it clothed.”

RIP to one of the truest fashion legends and I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for our fashion-hungry selves.

Maggie Wilson, Events and Partnerships Manager

I loved Lupita Nyong’o’s beautiful blue dress at the 2014 Oscars. The color of the dress is my favorite part, it reminds me of Cinderella’s blue dress, and it’s a color I feel like we don’t often see on a red carpet. The way she accessorized with simple jewelry made the dress stand out even more.

I long for the day where I can wear a dress as glamorous as this — and look as good as she did while wearing it!

McKenzie Karnes, Dallas Marketing Intern

When thinking about “best-dressed” for the Oscars, it can be a little tricky to narrow down with all of the glamorous gowns in competition. But when I started to look at past Oscar looks I realized how much Nicole Kidman really shows up to the red carpet every single year. She has been serving memorable looks since 1997, whether that be a classic chic look or a statement piece she continuously represents one of the best-dressed.

Her fashion remains classy and elegant no matter who or what she is wearing. She truly is a beauty who rocks the red carpet,  and I cannot wait to see what she and many others will be wearing.

Nicole Kidman Oscars
Nicole Kidman always brings it to The Oscars.

Caroline Lidl, Dallas Intern

My favorite Oscar look of all time is Charlize Theron’s 2004 Gucci gown. Stunning, glimmering, timeless!  

If you ever have something you want our team to address, shoot us your thoughts via social media or email (@papercitydallas on Instagram; on Facebook; or yours truly, Or, better yet send a message to the office, handwritten on the Smythson stationery of your choice — and feel free to include a bottle of Veuve. Champagne really helps get the ideas flowing.

Look for the next installment of Now Hear This from Billy Fong next week.

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