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Best Red Carpet Looks: A Tapestry of Glamour, Culture, and Art

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Best Red Carpet Looks

The crimson colored stretch that lies between the world's most celebrated personalities and the grand entrance to an esteemed event is more than just a path—it's a global stage. The red carpet is where fashion, cinema, and celebrity converge, creating moments that capture our imaginations and often, stand the test of time. But what makes a red carpet look truly unforgettable?

In this article, I will discuss some of the most iconic and best red carpet looks of all time (such as the best Oscars red carpet dresses and Vanity Fair Oscars party fashion, for example).

I am RayCee the Artist, a professional event photographer in Los Angeles. If you would like me to be your event photographer for a red carpet event, please contact me at! Also, be sure to read my articles "What to Wear to a Red Carpet Event" and "How to Attend and Organize a Spectacular Red Carpet Event."

Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and YouTube!

Iconic Red Carpet Moments & Their Impact: When Fashion Meets History

When we reflect on the illustrious history of red carpet events, certain moments stand out not just for their aesthetic appeal, but for how they’ve defined, and often redefined, the zeitgeist of their respective eras. These iconic ensembles serve as touchstones, anchoring us to specific cultural contexts and emotions. Let’s go through some of the most impactful moments in red carpet history:

Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy (1954 Oscars)

best red carpet looks

Audrey Hepburn wore a pristine white Givenchy gown with a belted waist and covered in a floral design, designed by the legendary Hubert de Givenchy. The gown whispered elegance, capturing her essence with its simplicity, paired with a delicate tiara.

At a time when Hollywood glamour was dominated by voluptuous figures and bold choices, Hepburn's understated elegance brought a breath of fresh air. The collaboration between Hepburn and Givenchy didn’t just produce a stunning dress; it birthed one of the most iconic designer-celebrity partnerships in history. Their collaborations set a precedent for relationships between designers and stars, illustrating the power of a muse.

Grace Kelly (1955 Oscars)

best red carpet looks

At the 1955 Academy Awards, Grace Kelly, winning best actress for "The Country Girl," stunned in an ice-blue gown by Edith Head. The form-fitting dress with a draped, boat-neck design showcased simplicity paired with sophistication.

Cher in Bob Mackie (1986 Oscars)

best red carpet looks

A sheer, black, two-piece ensemble with an elaborate feathered headdress, Cher's outfit was audacious and jaw-dropping.

Cher has always been a trendsetter, but with this outfit, she transcended conventional fashion norms. At a time when many stars aimed for classical beauty, Cher chose boldness, showcasing her individuality. This look encapsulated the rise of personal expression, indicating that the carpet wasn’t just a place to look beautiful, but also a platform to make a statement, to challenge norms, and to showcase one’s unique personality.

Nicole Kidman (1997 Oscars)

best red carpet looks

Kidman, with her porcelain elegance, has consistently delivered awe-inspiring looks. An example of this is her green/yellow John Galliano for Dior gown at the 1997 Oscars.

Kidman isn’t just known for her exceptional acting prowess; she has solidified her place as a timeless fashion icon, merging old-world charm with contemporary edginess.

Jennifer Lopez in Versace (2000 Grammy Awards)

Best Red Carpet Looks

A plunging, green, tropical-printed chiffon dress that left little to the imagination but stood tall in audacity and impact.

This dress not only turned heads but turned the tides of technology. The overwhelming demand to see this look online was one of the reasons that led to the creation of Google Images. It epitomized the dawn of the digital age in fashion, where a single moment could reverberate across the internet, making a global impact.

Angelina Jolie (2012 Oscars)

best red carpet looks

While many remember Jolie’s 2012 Oscar appearance in a Versace dress, highlighting her leg through a dramatic slit, her fashion moments encapsulate more. Jolie always manages to blend strength with sophistication with her fashion choices.

Not just a style icon, Jolie often utilizes her red carpet appearances to champion causes and raise awareness. Her choices often reflect her global humanitarian endeavors, reminding us that fashion can be both beautiful and meaningful.

Rihanna in Giambattista Valli (2015 Grammy Awards)

best red carpet looks

An enormous, candy-floss, pink masterpiece that was as audacious as it was ethereal. It was the kind of dress little girls dream of and adults admire for its sheer artistic bravado.

Rihanna, with her fearless fashion choices, often personifies the spirit of the modern red carpet – unexpected, unabashed, and unapologetically original. This voluminous gown highlighted the power of taking risks. It spoke to the modern narrative of fashion where there’s a fine line between couture and pop culture, between artistry and virality.

Emilia Clarke in Valentino (2019 Emmys)

Best Red Carpet Looks

Emilia Clarke donned a plunging navy blue Valentino gown that showcased a perfect blend of grace and boldness.

The dress, designed by Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino, was chosen for its simplicity and elegance. Its deep V-neck added a touch of daring to an otherwise classic design. The sheer, chiffon overlay and delicate sequins caught the light beautifully, making Emilia shine on the red carpet.

Emilia complemented the dress with subtle, yet striking accessories. Her drop earrings added a hint of sparkle without overshadowing the gown, and her shoes were carefully chosen to match the navy hue. The overall effect was harmonious and well-coordinated.

The Academy Awards: A Night of Cinematic Elegance

Best Red Carpet Looks

Often referred to as "Hollywood's biggest night," the Academy Awards, or Oscars, have been synonymous with opulence since their inception in 1929. This is the event where Hollywood royalty showcases the crème de la crème of fashion. The Academy Awards is the red carpet's biggest night.

From the burgundy Elie Saab dress worn by Halle Berry in 2002 to Lupita Nyong'o's baby blue Prada in 2014, the Oscars have given us unforgettable sartorial masterpieces that are etched in fashion history.

Met Gala: Fashion’s Most Avant-Garde Night of the Year

Best Red Carpet Looks

Initiated in 1948, the Met Gala, officially known as the Costume Institute Benefit, is an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in New York City. It's the pinnacle of iconic fashion events, marking the opening of the Costume Institute's annual fashion exhibit.

Every year, the Met Gala revolves around a unique theme, setting the tone for the evening. From "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" to "Camp: Notes on Fashion," each theme dictates not only the museum’s exhibit but also the sartorial choices of its attendees.

Unforgettable Moments and Ensembles

Rihanna's Papal Ensemble (2018)

Best Red Carpet Looks

Aligning with the "Heavenly Bodies" theme, Rihanna graced the carpet as a modern-day pope, donning a Maison Margiela Artisanal outfit by John Galliano, which instantly became one of the most talked-about looks in Met Gala history.

Lady Gaga's Four Outfit Reveal (2019)

Best Red Carpet Looks

True to the "Camp" theme, Lady Gaga made an unforgettable entrance, revealing four Brandon Maxwell outfits in a dramatic sequence, embodying the essence of exaggerated fashion.

Zendaya's Light-up Dress (2019)

Best Red Carpet Looks

For the same "Camp" theme, Zendaya channelled Cinderella, wearing a Tommy Hilfiger gown that magically lit up, leaving onlookers in awe.

Rules, Rituals, and the Exclusive Guest List

By Invitation Only

The Met Gala isn't just another event to attend. It's an exclusive affair with an invite-only guest list, curated meticulously by Anna Wintour, Vogue's editor-in-chief.

Social Media Ban

Despite being one of the most publicized events, there's a strict no-selfie and no-social-media policy once inside, adding an allure of mystery to the evening's internal proceedings.

The Impact Beyond the Red Stairs

Fashion Forward

The Met Gala pushes designers and celebrities to think outside the box, propelling the entire fashion industry forward. Concepts and trends introduced here often find their way into mainstream fashion.

Conversation Starter

The outfits, while being visually stunning, often spark discussions on broader topics like gender, identity, and cultural appropriation. For instance, Jared Leto's 2019 ensemble, where he carried a replica of his own head, ignited debates on self-obsession in the age of social media.

Celebration of Artistry

Beyond the glitz, the Met Gala is a testament to the artistry of fashion, celebrating the meticulous craftsmanship, vision, and innovation of designers.

The Met Gala, in essence, is more than just a parade of glamorous outfits; it's a confluence of art, culture, and fashion. The red stairs of the Metropolitan Museum witness an annual spectacle, where fashion becomes more than just clothes—it becomes an experience, a statement, and most importantly, a form of art.

MTV Movie Awards

Best Red Carpet Looks

The MTV Movie Awards, while celebrating cinematic achievements, captures the essence of pop culture and the vibrancy of youth. It's less about tradition and more about flamboyant expressions of individual style.

Whether it's Kristen Stewart's edgy sneakers paired with a designer dress or Zac Efron's casual yet chic ensembles, the MTV Movie Awards have always been a platform for stars to push fashion boundaries and express their individuality.


Red carpet fashion is more than just beautiful dresses and dapper tuxedos. It’s a reflection of culture, art, personal expression, and societal shifts. Each year, as we await the new array of colors, designs, and styles, we aren’t just watching a display of fashion, but a tapestry of stories being woven in real-time. Valentino Couture, Ralph Lauren, Oscar De La Renta, Calvin Klein Collection, Carolina Herrera, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and Vera Wang are just some of the fashion choices you will see on red carpets and in Getty Images each year.

From Hollywood's golden age to today's digital era, the red carpet remains a testament to the ever-evolving, yet enduring allure of cinema and fashion's symbiotic relationship.

I am RayCee the Artist, a professional event photographer in Los Angeles. If you would like me to be your event photographer for a red carpet event, please contact me at! Also, be sure to read my articles "What to Wear to a Red Carpet Event" and "How to Attend and Organize a Spectacular Red Carpet Event."

Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and YouTube!


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