Elle Fanning Is an Old Hollywood Star Stuck in the 21st Century

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 21: Elle Fanning attends the screening of "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" durin...
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We are lucky enough to be experiencing a renaissance of new-gen style stars, as Zendaya, Taylor Russell, and Hunter Schafer leave us speechless every time they attend a premiere or award show. Right alongside them, is Elle Fanning, who has been on the red carpet longer than any of her contemporaries, and therefore has had two decades to perfect her look. And boy, has she been making good use of that time. Fanning has always been one to watch, fashion-wise. From the beginning, the actress gravitated toward feminine silhouettes and colors, often attending events in floral and ruffle-covered dresses. Over the past few years, however, Fanning has really found her footing, opting for a more vintage tilt, either with actual archive pieces or recreations. The result is always intriguing and nostalgic, a nice change of pace against the onslaught of straight-off-the-runway designs. But just when you think Fanning is going to turn up in another cinched waist gown, she mixes it up and opts for a tailored suit or ab-bearing ensemble. With brands like Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, and Rodarte in her back corner, it’s a given that no matter what direction Fanning opts to go in, it will be a successful one. So, in honor of her 26th birthday, we’re looking back on 20 years of great fashion, from her days as Dakota’s premiere groupie to her Cannes takeover.

2024: Golden Globe Awards
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Fanning loves to embrace a vintage look, and it’s not rare for the actress to dip into some archives for a special occasion. For the Golden Globes, she achieved one of her best pulls to date, attending the award show in a strapless, ivory vintage Pierre Balmain dress that turned Fanning into a modern-day Grace Kelly.

2023: Appropriate Broadway Opening Night
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The actress’ strapless dress from The Row’s resort 2024 collection meant she could show off her faux tattoos, applied for her debut Broadway performance in Appropriate.

2023: Cannes Film Festival Opening Ceremony
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Fanning is arguably the new generation Cannes queen, and if you don’t agree, you might after a scroll through some of her best looks. But really, this custom Alexander McQueen dress the actress wore to the festival’s opening red carpet in 2023 should be enough to prove the point.

2023: “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” Met Gala

Like many attendees of the 2023 Met Gala, Fanning paid homage to Karl Lagerfeld with her look. The actress wore a design by Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood, which turned her into a Chanel bride. On top of the white lace dress, however, she placed a little black jacket, a reference to her appearance in Lagerfeld’s book, Little Black Jacket, when she was just 13.

2023: Critics Choice Awards
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Fanning was inspired sartorially by her role as Catherine The Great in the now-canceled Hulu show, The Great. For example, this Alexander McQueen spring 2023 gown—with its pannier-style hips—looks like something a modern Catherine might wear, with the deconstruction adding a 21st-century edge.

2022: Emmy Awards
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Inspired by old Hollywood and the days of Edith Head, Fanning enlisted The Great’s costume designer, Sharon Long, and cutter and seamstress, Catherine Shaw, to design a dress for the actress to wear to the Emmys in 2022.

2022: Cannes Film Festival; Top Gun: Maverick Premiere
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If Fanning knows how to do anything, it’s to deliver a glamorous Cannes moment, and in 2022, this blush pink Armani Privé dress aided greatly in that endeavor.

2022: Critics Choice Awards
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While this gold, tea-length dress could have easily been another one of Fanning’s vintage pulls, it was actually a modern Oscar de la Renta design.

2022: Screen Actors Guild Awards
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Fanning ditched her usual dresses for an androgynous look at the 2022 SAG Awards, attending the event in a Gucci ensemble comprised of sequin-covered pinstripe trousers, a sheer ivory blouse, and a vest on top.

2021: InStyle Awards
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The actress modernized her look slightly for the Instyle Awards in 2021, showing more skin than usual in a Balmain spring/summer 2022 top made to look like one giant chain link.

2021: The Great Premiere
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The Rococo-style embroidery on Fanning’s Atelier Versace bodice paid homage to the era of The Great, set in the 18th century.

2021: LACMA Art+Film Gala
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Fanning stepped out of her style comfort zone and opted for a vampy look at the LACMA gala in 2021, attending the event in a completely sheer black Gucci dress featuring gathered tulle and exposed undergarments.

2020: Golden Globe Awards

A pandemic couldn’t keep Fanning from serving at the 2020 Golden Globes, and the actress attended the event virtually in a gorgeous, silk Gucci gown.

2020: Berlin International Film Festival; The Roads Not Taken Premiere
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Armani Privé provided Fanning with this sophisticated, velvet and satin gown at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival.

2020: All the Bright Places Premiere
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Fanning went for a quirkier, more casual look at the premiere of her Netflix film, All the Bright Places. The actress paired a Gucci spring 2020 jumpsuit featuring organic bodice cutouts with a gold choker and thick-rimmed glasses.

2019: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Premiere
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Five years before theme dressing blew up the red carpet fashion scene, Fanning was taking great inspiration from her role as Sleeping Beauty in Maleficent for the premiere. The actress wore a romantic, olive green Gucci gown, covered in silk floral embellishments and some crystal-embroidered blood drops falling from her pricked finger.

2019: Cannes Film Festival; Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood Premiere
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One of Fanning’s best looks to date was, without a doubt, the Dior Haute Couture look inspired by Christian Dior’s New Look and Bar Suit at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019.

2019: “Camp: Notes on Fashion” Met Gala
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If you ever questioned whether or not Fanning has fun with fashion, look no further than her ensemble for the Met Gala in 2019, where she wore a full I Dream of Jeannie-inspired look from Miu Miu with some modern touches, like hands full of pierced nails.

2019: Teen Spirit Premiere
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Fanning was pretty in pink in a lace Rodarte dress at the premiere of her film, Teen Spirit, in 2019.

2018: I Think We’re Alone Now Screening
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Just when you think you have an idea of what Fanning’s going to wear, she switches things up and attends the screening of one of her films in a bright yellow Oscar de la Renta suit with cropped cigarette pants and a red striped turtleneck underneath.

2018: Deauville American Film Festival; Galveston Premiere

At the Deauville American Film Festival, though, Fanning was back to her romantic red carpet ways, attending the premiere of her film, Galveston, in a Miu Miu resort 2019 dress with cutouts on the bodice.

2018: Berlin Film Festival Opening Ceremony
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Who needs hands (or arms) when you’re wearing Valentino spring 2018 couture?

2017: The Beguiled Premiere
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Fanning traded in her neutrals for gun metal when she wore this Naeem Khan fall 2017 dress to the premiere of The Beguiled in 2017.

2017: Cannes Film Festival; The Beguiled Premiere
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The actress had to stand out among her costars Kirsten Dunst and Nicole Kidman at the Cannes premiere of The Beguiled, so Fanning smartly wore this simple, yet effective purple confection of a dress, courtesy of Rodarte.

2017: Cannes Film Festival Opening Ceremony
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Fanning’s Vivienne Westwood took a team of 10 over 300 hours to create. The dress, inspired by the designer’s Bird of Paradise dress from her spring 2005 collection, featured a train of hand-painted references to the actress.

2017: “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Met Gala
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Fanning went for a simple and romantic look at the Met Gala in 2017, attending the event in an empire waist Miu Miu dress.

2017: Live By Night Premiere
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The actress wore her favorite color (ivory) to the Live By Night premiere in the form of a sleek Oscar de la Renta spring 2017 strapless column dress.

2016: The Neon Demon New York Premiere
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Fanning was a Gucci princess at The Neon Denom New York premiere in a pink, ruffled dress finished off with a mossy green velvet ribbon tied at her waist.

2016: The Neon Denom Los Angeles Premiere
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For the LA premiere, though, Fanning went for an edgier (but still floral) look, wearing a sequined-covered Dolce & Gabbana design.

2016: Cannes Film Festival; The Neon Demon Premiere
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Fanning’s Cannes journey started off on a high when she attended her first-ever premiere at the French film festival in a romantic Zuhair Murad gown featuring an exposed cage and embroidered flora.

2016: “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” Met Gala
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While many attendees at the 2016 Met Gala were dressed in head-to-toe metallic in honor of the year’s theme, Fanning took a very different approach, instead wearing an ivory Thakoon dress with a low v-neckline and a severely high ponytail.

2015: Trumbo Premiere
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All eyes were on Fanning at the premiere of Trumbo when the actress stepped out in a whimsical Gucci spring 2016 dress

2015: Toronto International Film Festival; Trumbo Premiere
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It seems that Gucci was Fanning’s go-to for the Trumbo press tour, as the actress wore the brand again for the film’s TIFF premiere in the form of a red, ruffled fall 2015 dress.

2014: Low Down Premiere
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A brunette Fanning attended the premiere of her film in an off-the-shoulder, floral Marchesa spring 2015 dress.

2014: The Boxtrolls Premiere
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Fanning brought out the pants for the premiere of The Boxtrolls, attending the red carpet in a tailored Oscar de la Renta look featuring a strapless, peplum top.

2014: Maleficent Premiere
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If Fanning was ever going to pull out one of her princess dresses, it make sense that she would do so at the premie of Maleficent, a film in which she plays Sleeping Beauty. The actress looked like she stepped right out of a Disney film in a light blue, off-the-shoulder Elie Saab couture dress.

2013: “Punk: Chaos to Couture” Met Gala
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Fanning made the bold choice to match her makeup to her tie-dyed Rodarte fall 2013 dress at the 2013 Met Gala.

2012: London Film Festival; Ginger & Rosa Premiere
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The mint green cardigan thrown over the shoulder of Fanning’s floral Rochas resort 2013 dress added a bit of contrasting casualty to the otherwise formal look.

2012: Toronto International Film Festival; Ginger & Rosa Premiere
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Clearly, Fanning gained an appreciation for the pantsuit at an early age, because in 2012, she wore this very retro Miu Miu fall 2012 patterned look to the TIFF premiere of her film, Ginger & Rosa.

2012: Critics Choice Movie Awards
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Fanning embraced her inner flower child in a sunflower-covered Rodarte spring 2012 dress at the Critics Choice Movie Awards in 2012.

2011: We Bought a Zoo Premiere
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The actress looked adorable in a cut-out Louis Vuitton spring 2012 dress at the We Bought a Zoo premiere in 2011.

2011: Super 8 Premiere
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There likely aren’t many 13-year-olds who have an appreciation for vintage clothes, but Fanning was not your average teenager, so it should come as no surprise that the actress wore this romantic, vintage dress to the premiere of her Steven Spielberg film, Super 8.

2011: MTV Movie Awards
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Fanning wore a delightful, age-appropriate floral Dolce & Gabbana romper to the MTV Movie Awards in 2011.

2011: “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” Met Gala
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Fanning attended her first-ever Met Gala in a Valentino couture look, featuring a mini skirt, sheer lace top, and black bolero.

2010: Governors Awards
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In 2010, Fanning attended the Governor’s Awards in a belted, Valentino mini dress.

2010: Venice Film Festival; Somewhere Premiere
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Fanning looked adorable in this sea foam green and pale blue Marc Jacobs mini dress at the Venice premiere of her film, Somewhere.

2008: Sundance Film Festival: Phoebe in Wonderland Premiere
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A 10-year-old Fanning attended the Sundance premiere of her film in a blue velvet dress and white tights.

2007: Kids’ Choice Awards
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Fanning attended the 2007 Kids’ Choice Awards on the arm of her older sister, Dakota.

2007: Sundance Film Festival; The Nines Premiere
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Even at nine years old, Fanning was taking on film festivals. In 2009, she attended the Sundance premiere of her movie, The Nines, wearing a pink velvet skirt atop white leggings, with a white short-sleeved blouse and knit ivory vest.

2003: Uptown Girls Premiere
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Fanning supported her sister at the premiere of Uptown Girls in an adorable, orange dress with a Peter Pan collar.

2002: The Santa Clause 2 Premiere
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Elle and Dakota gave a thumbs up at The Santa Clause 2 premiere in their coordinating, embroidered denim looks.