Oscars Red Carpet: The All-Time 15 Fashion Risks That Paid Off

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Red carpet after red carpet, there are several fashion tropes er can always expect to see: the mermaid silhouette; a billowy princess-gown; a streamlined, column dress. Even at the Academy Awards, the, well, Academy Awards of red carpets, time and time again, actresses opt for the same looks out of the fear of trying something new and—gasp—landing on the Worst Dressed List. However, in the age of Alessandro Michele’s Gucci, there is no excuse for not taking some fashion risks. This year’s nominees for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress consist of a group of women who aren’t afraid to step on the daring side of red carpet dressing, including Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, and Sally Hawkins. Here’s hoping next week’s red carpet is an exciting ones full of bright hues, exciting silhouettes, and a bold piece of statement jewelry for good measure. Until then, a look back at 15 actresses—from Cate Blanchett to Kirsten Dunst—who took a fashion risk on the Academy Awards red carpet that most definitely paid off.


You can’t have a look back at daring fashion without including Nicole Kidman’s John Galliano for Dior dress worn to the 1997 Ceremony. Chartreuse, mink-trimmed, and silk, it has gone down in style history as one of the bests.


Jennifer Lopez is known a very specific style of gowns: nude-colored, plenty of sparkle, and even more skin. But at the 2003 Academy Awards, the singer went for a romantic, one-shouldered gown in an unexpected mint hue that was a welcome change.


As the off-screen counterpart to Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker can always be counted on for a daring fashion moment. This Chanel Couture gown from the 2010 ceremony was equal parts elegant and unexpected.


She’s Cate the Great for a reason. Blanchett made a major statement in a lilac-hued Givenchy Couture gown with tonal embellishments at the 2011 Academy Awards.


From the front, Hilary Swank was completely covered up, but when she turned around, that was the “Wow” moment. This Guy LaRoche dress was an instant classic.


Beaded bodice, ombre purple, a full train: Zoe Saldana’s Givenchy couture dress certainly had a lot going on, but on the actress, it all worked in perfect harmony.


It’s not often you see a formal Peter Pan collar, but when it’s Chanel couture, that’s a different story. Kirsten Dunst was just the girl to pull off the bold neckline.


Before cape gowns came with every red carpet, Gwyneth Paltrow kicked off the trend in a simple, masterfully crafted Tom Ford number at the 2012 ceremony.


It was the leg that launched 1,000 memes. Angelina Jolie made quite the statement in 2012 awards; a look that many others have since tried to emulate to less effect.


If you are to believe stylist lore, Anne Hathaway’s Prada gown was a decision made just moments before hitting the carpet. True or not, it made for a refreshingly simple look.


Naomi Watts tried out a new silhouette altogether in a fashion-forward take on the bandeau. It was a sparkling addition to the 2015 carpet.


Rachel McAdams opted for a lesser-known designer, August Getty Atelier–a bold red carpet mood in itself–for the 2016 awards, wearing a slinky, jade number.


The Academy Awards typically calls for strict black tie, but newcomer Daisy Ridley made a memorable showing in tea-length Chanel couture.


A bubble-hem is not one typically seen on the red carpet, but Alicia Vikander made it work–it was custom Louis Vuitton, after-all–in 2016.


Jessica Biel arrived on the red carpet for the 89th Oscars on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California wearing a busy gold dress topped with a busy gold necklace—and yet, it worked.