Looking back over the past 85 years of Academy Award ceremonies, many changes have occurred. First held in May of 1929, during the first few up and coming years of theAcademy, the ceremony was a quiet dinner held for just over 400 people. Today the Oscars are broadcast on national television and observed by millions of viewers. One thing that has remained stable and has not changed about the event is the stunning red carpet fashion trends that continue to inspire our wardrobes today.
Oscar fashion has not always been as glamorous as it is today. Nominated in 1929 for the first Best Actress of the Academy Awards was Janet Gaynor, adorned in a simple cotton dress with a peter pan collar. Had she known at the time how prestigious the award would soon become perhaps more thought would have been put behind her choice of dress. Nonetheless, in the early 1930’s Peter Pan collar dresses became quite popular among girls in their late teens.
Perhaps one of the most embarrassing styles of Oscar fashion was presented by Luise Rainer in 1938. Rainer, winning the nomination of Best Actress the previous year, stayed home the night of the awards convinced she would win the category two years in a row. When word got out that she was going to win the nomination, a car was sent to her home to pick her up. Rainer accepted the award wearing a long sleeved nightgown.
The years following nominees of the Awards began to slowly dress for the occasion. Keeping up with the latest style trends of the era, the fashion worn by the celebrities slowly began to influence the style of the American public. But not until the 1950’s did designer brands start to make their way onto the red carpet.
Most notable for the first designer brand to hit the red carpet was a Givenchy belted dress with a boat neckline worn by Audrey Hepburn in 1954. Due to the huge response from the rising actress' evening dress, Givenchy went on to design all of Hepburn's wardrobe following the event, including the iconic little black dress in the film Breakfast at Tiffany's. That little black dress paved the way for casual evening wear that is still as elegant and popular today as it was back then.
Oscar fashion is not just about glamorous dresses. Diane Keaton stepped into the 1976 Academy Awards wearing a very feminine styled pantsuit. Viewers across the nation were shocked at how beautiful and trendy a Tom Boy style could be. Thus a pantsuit revelation occurred and pantsuits soon began to be worn by women of all ages and style trends.
Protesting traditional evening wear in 1999 was Sharon Stone. Though she wore a stunning lilac skirt by Vera Wang, it was the shirt she paired with it that made a statement; a simple white button up shirt owned by her husband from the Gap. Trying to make a statement about style being attitude not fashion, Stone instead stirred up a style trend of layering with oversized button up shirts.
Though an evolution of fashion has occurred on the red carpet, one thing is for certain. Fashion is influential, and the fashion history of Academy Award nominees continues to make a lasting impact on the way we dress today. For a recap of fashion trends to hit the red carpet at the 2013 Academy Awards view the video from the Wall Street Journals' style blogger Elizabeth Holmes.