What The Winners Wore: 21 Years Of Best Actress Dresses
2014, Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
Cate Blanchett accepted her Best Actress award for her performance in Blue Jasmine in an ethereal nude Armani Prive creation with all-over delicate floral appliques. The finishing touch? Incredible diamond Chopard earrings.
2013, Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
This multi-layered gown with a big-time train from Dior's blush couture collection was worth falling for—literally! On her way to nab her award, Lawrence fell on the stairs. “What do you mean ‘what happened,’” said the actress when a reporter asked why she fell. “Look at this dress!”
2012, Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady
Ever the golden girl, the 17-time nominee won that year for her fierce portrayal of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She also scored praise for wearing this shimmering custom-made Lanvin lame gown fashioned from eco-certified fabric.
2011, Natalie Portman for Black Swan
Rodarte designers, sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, designed the lavish ballet costumes for 'Black Swan.' So it seemed only fitting that they should also make Portman's winning off-the-shoulder violet silk chiffon gown.
2010, Sandra Bullock, for The Blind Side
Bullock's silvery-gold metallic Marchesa column was perfectly matched with her sleek hairstyle, bright scarlet lips, matching metallic purse, and Jimmy Choo platform shoes.
2009, Kate Winslet for The Reader
After six previous nominations, Winslet finally won in 2009. She shined in this asymmetric Atelier Yves Saint Laurent by Stefano Pilati gown with YSL shoes. Chopard provided the diamonds. Her hair was pure Grace Kelly.
2008, Marion Cotillard for La Vie En Rose
“It’s true there are angels in this city,” said a breathless Cotillard during her acceptance speech. Talk about angels! Cotillard wowed in this mermaid-inspired Jean Paul Gaultier gown. “Marion initially requested something simple, but I wanted everyone to see the woman I saw," Gaultier explained to 'InStyle.'
2007, Helen Mirren for The Queen
Helen Mirren showed the world that at 61, she could shine as sparkly as the younger starlets. On the big day, she stunned in a champagne-colored Christian Lacroix gown with a flowing chiffon skirt and delicate bead-encrusted bodice.
2006, Reese Witherspoon for Walk the Line
Witherspoon discovered her vintage 1955 Christian Dior v-neck gown at a Paris boutique. “I still have it. It's been properly stored away," the actress reflected in an interview with us. “I'll never wear it again; it was a moment in time. Maybe (daughter) Ava will—it would make a pretty wedding dress."
2005, Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby
Swank fearlessly donned this beyond-alluring slate blue Guy Laroche sheeth when she picked up her second Academy Award. The barely-there back made headlines and showed off her famously fit figure.
2004, Charlize Theron for Monster
Theron was pure glamour girl in this Gucci irisdescent gown with gossamer layers and a plunging back.
2003, Nicole Kidman for The Hours
Jean Paul Gaultier's elaborate asymetrical creation was a work of art. The midnight blue silk dress fit well on Kidman's statuesque figure. Strappy heels added simple elegance.
2002, Halle Berry for Monster's Ball
Berry has a knack for striking the perfect balance between sexy and elegant, and her Elie Saab gown was no different. Hand-painted with a peek-a-boo sheer net bodice, it was adorned with perfectly placed embroidered flowers.
2001, Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich
Roberts selected this black column stunner with white piping from Valentino's special 1982 collection deadicated to movie stars. The look was so adored, it inspired more actresses to wear vintage on red carpets.
2000, Hilary Swank for Boys Don't Cry
A first-time nominee, Swank struck gold with the Oscar and this show-stopping gown. The bronze silk duppioni Randolph Duke creation was paired with a 100-carat Asprey amp Garrard lace diamond necklace, valued at $250,000. “We kept it simple, with a retro wink," Duke told InStyle about the gown.
1999, Gwyneth Paltrow for Shakespeare In Love
Paltrow choose a pink Ralph Lauren satin ball gown paired with an organza shawl. But what really made the look was the Harry Winston cascading diamond necklace, which the actress shortened by two inches to make it into a choker.
1998, Helen Hunt for As Good As It Gets
This Tom Ford for Gucci ice-blue strapless dress was simple yet stunning, and the 3-carat diamond trilliant studs from Martin Katz added to the elegance.
1997, Frances McDormand for Fargo
This navy satin Richard Tyler backless gown with criss-cross straps proved that McDormand is as stylish as she is talented. How’d she find it? When Tyler delivered her husband Joel Coen’s tuxedo, he also brought the gown. McDormand was instantly smitten with it.
1996, Susan Sarandon for Dead Man Walking
No actress had ever worn Dolce amp Gabbana to the Oscars until Susan Sarandon showed up in this copper satin ballgown which was made to match the color of her hair. The dress was later donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, and featured in an exhibition along with Princess Diana’s gown.
1995, Jessica Lange for Blue Sky
Lange’s Calvin Klein cut velvet gown with a sheer leaf-pattern overlay earned her accolades. But Lange remembers when dressing at award shows was a simpler task. As she once explained to Ellen DeGeneres, “When I first started going to these award shows it was the early ‘80s, and there was not the hoopla that goes on now...Now it’s become I think one of the most important events for the fashion industry.”
1994, Holly Hunter for The Piano
Hunter was a standout as a double-nominee in both the Best Actress and Suporting Actress catagories. So Wang created a standout backless dress for her actress friend who flew to New York twice in one week for fittings. Hunter later told 'InStyle,' “I still have that dress. And my Oscar tickets and the envelope, because (presenter) Al Pacino gave it to me."