Marilyn Monroe, 1951Sexpot Marilyn Monroe showed off a more demure side at the 1951 Oscars. As a presenter, Monroe opted for a chiffon off-the-shoulder gown with white fur shrug and ruby red lipstick. Monroe presented the award for Best Recording, which went to Thomas Moulton for his work on “All About Eve.”
Audrey Hepburn, 1954, Hubert de GivenchyParisian designer Hubert de Givenchy thought that he had an appointment with Katherine Hepburn when a young Audrey walked into his studio in sandals and a t-shirt. It was not long before the blossoming young starlet and the designer became dear friends. In 1954, Hepburn accepted the award for Best Actress for her role in “Roman Holiday” at the 26th Annual Academy Awards. Hepburn wore a white Givenchy gown with floral embroidery. It was the first time Audrey Hepburn was seen in public wearing the designer. The dress became an instant icon.
Elizabeth Taylor, 1961In 1961, Elizabeth Taylor won the Best Actress award for her performance in “Butterfield 8.” The raven-haired beauty wore a stunning princess-cut gown with yellow top, white floral-patterned skirt and a black belt adorned with a red rose. She topped off her look with white gloves and sparkling diamond drop earrings.
Kim Basinger, 1998, EscadaChanneling Grace Kelly, Kim Basinger wore pin curls and a mint green, satin Escada gown to the 1998 Academy Awards. That night, Basinger picked up the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “L.A. Confidential.”
Gwyneth Paltrow, 1999, Ralph LaurenIn a nod to fairytales, Gwyneth Paltrow opted for a princess-perfect frock for the 1999 Academy Awards. The bubblegum pink Ralph Lauren looked like something only Cinderella would wear. But Paltrow worked it to a T, especially wielding some magic of her own by snagging the Best Actress Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love.” Her dress inspired designers across the country, who stocked their collections with pink dresses that year.
Halle Berry, 2002, Elie SaabThe night she won the Best Actress Oscar for “Monster’s Ball,” actress Halle Berry was surely the best-dressed on the red carpet. The stunner wore an Elie Saab gown with a sheer, floral-embroidered bodice and burgundy skirt. It perfectly showed off her killer figure.
Gisele Bundchen, 2005, Christian DiorThe gorgeous Gisele Bundchen lived up to her role as “Angel,” looking absolutely heavenly at the 2005 Academy Awards in a white Christian Dior gown. The billowing empire-waisted dress was ethereal and made Gisele look otherworldly. She attended the awards ceremony with then-boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio.
Michelle Williams, 2006, Vera WangIn 2006, Michelle Williams chose a mustard-hued Vera Wang gown to the Oscars. She paired the vintage-inspired frock with an ornate collar necklace and deep red lipstick. It was a bold red carpet choice and, though opinions varied, was one of the most memorable Oscar gowns yet.
Keira Knightly, 2006, ValentinoAs a relatively new Hollywood starlet at the time, Keira Knightly made a bold choice when she decided to wear an eggplant taffeta Vera Wang gown to the 2006 Academy Awards. The beauty paired her dress with a vintage Bulgari necklace from the 1960s and pulled her strawberry-blonde hair into a high ponytail. Though the looks were disparate, the final result was beautifully cohesive.
Penelope Cruz, 2007, Atelier VersaceThe sultry Latina opted for girly chic at the 2007 Academy Awards in a blush-hued Atelier Versace gown with feathered train. It was dramatic and decadent – everything the Oscars should be.
Nicole Kidman, 2007, BalenciagaNicole Kidman’s Balenciaga gown at the 2007 Academy Awards will surely go down in history as one of the best red dresses to ever grace a red carpet. The column silhouette with the ostentatious neck bow looked absolutely stunning on the Aussie actress.
Heidi Klum, 2008, GallianoThe supermodel took on a Queen of Hearts vibe at the 2008 Academy Awards. She flaunted her assets in this voluminous scarlet Gallino gown and was without a doubt one of the most eye-catching of the night.
Angelina Jolie, 2009, Elie Saab, Lorraine Schwartz jewelsMere months after giving birth to twins Vivienne and Knox, Angelina Jolie appeared at the 2009 Academy Awards looking ravishing in a black strapless Elie Saab gown. Though the gown fit her seamlessly, what truly made the Oscar look was a pair of emerald Lorraine Schwartz drop earrings. The beauty was joined by the equally handsome Brad Pitt. Perfection.
Zoe Saldana, 2010, GivenchyZoe Saldana looked lovely at the 2010 Academy Awards. This is one of the most fun and flirty Oscar dresses to date. The purple ombre coloring gives it a playful side but the dramatic hem and jeweled bodice add a decided sexiness.
Mila Kunis, 2011, Elie SaabMila Kunis made quite the transformation at the 2011 Academy Awards. The “Black Swan” actress morphed her body to get ready for the role. “I couldn’t imagine anything worse,” Mila said. “I lost 20 lbs in five months. I ate a portion controlled diet of 1,200 calories a day.” But at the Oscars, the beauty looked absolutely lovely in a lilac Elie Saab Haute Couture gown with Neil Lane jewelry and a Bottega Veneta clutch.
Natalie Portman, 2011, RodarteA very pregnant Natalie Portman wore a plum silk chiffon draped Rodarte gown to the 83rd Annual Academy Award ceremony. Portman looked unbelievably beautiful with a new-mommy glow and a nomination for Best Actress for her role in “Black Swan” (which she won). Portman has a close relationship with Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, who helped design the costumes for “Black Swan.”
The Oscars is a pivotal moment in an actor's or actresses' career. It is the most-coveted award in a business littered with competition and hurdles. The Oscars represents that crowning moment of glory, making it all the exhausting auctions, 18-hour filming days and scathing reviews worth it. Winning an Academy Awards solidifies one's position in Hollywood history.
The 2012 Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday morning. Top contenders include The Artist, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Iron Lady and The Descendants. Famous faces like George Clooney, Rooney Mara, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Steven Spielberg and more will be in attendance.
Not only is the Academy Awards a glorious celebration of art, it is a celebration of fashion.
Each year actresses step out in the most stunning ensembles created by some of the world's most renowned designers. Hollywood is so revered for its magic. The fashions on the carpet echo that fantastical nuance.
And dressing for the Oscars is no small feat.
If you want a custom gown sketched by a designer with beading and embroidery, that can take many weeks to prepare, Marilyn Heston, head of MHA, an LA-based international company that pairs celebrities with designers and luxury brands, told The Hollywood Reporter.
It's not an overnight deal to get a spectacular Oscar dress. Generally, these tailor-made dresses are only offered to nominees and presenters for the Globes and the Oscars. If a designer spends all that time and money on a gown, they want to make sure that it will end up in Vogue or Women's Wear Daily. This is not an artistic endeavor. The only reason a global designer is dressing an actress is to gain exposure that will raise awareness and increase sales.
Take a look back at the best Oscar dresses of all time. Which gown is your favorite?