The red carpet came roaring back to life for the first more or less “normal” Academy Awards ceremony in years and the stars did not disappoint in their efforts. We can’t say we were surprised to see so many go so hard on their fashion, since the red carpet has been getting louder and glitzier as everyone tries to put the lockdown era behind them.
What caught us off guard was just how many of the nominees, presenters, and guests came out to break the rules (!!). This sounds a little melodramatic, but the Oscars red carpet may never be the same again. Let’s look at some of the rebels, game-changers, and risk-takers of the 2022 Academy Awards.
Jessica Chastain in Gucci
The Eyes of Tammy Faye star and Best Actress nominee stayed true to her character’s exuberant, drag queen-adjacent style in this colorful, flamboyant Gucci gown. We loved it for being such a bold, borderline tacky choice. There’s a history of actress nominees dressing in toned-down or conservative styles on Oscar night, so we love a lady who says no to all that.
Lupita Nyong’o in Prada
Once we saw Lupita on the red carpet, sparkling and shimmering, just as God intended, we sighed in relief. Nature really is healing, you guys. While we think the design is a little overwrought and probably could’ve used some editing, she just looks so amazing in it. And her hair is everything.
Tracee Ellis Ross in Carolina Herrera
Tracee, what happened here? Is this some sort of sly Disney branding exercise? Because we love you, but the mouse ears aren’t working.
Kodi Smit-McPhee in Bottega Veneta
The Best Supporting Actor and The Power of The Dog star has a quietly commanding presence on screen and his red carpet style is no different. We fell in love with this aquamarine double-breasted custom tuxedo but we truly flipped for the gigantic footwear. It’s such a modern silhouette and boundary-pushing style without being overly flashy. True male elegance.
Renate Reinsve in Louis Vuitton
It’s weird. It’s a little creepy. It’s got a sort of gothy, Bride of Frankenstein vibe to it—and we think we love it. The star of The Worst Person in the World caught our eyes and got our respect by refusing to go the expected route for her Oscar red carpet debut. It’s not glam and we’re not even sure we’d call it pretty, but it sure is hard to look away from it.
Alana Haim in Louis Vuitton
The Licorice Pizza star traded in the groovy fashions and rock star looks she’s been favoring this year for straight up, old-school elegant glamour. This was a pleasant surprise and we think it makes a quietly memorable declaration of her own bona fide movie-star status.
Ariana DeBose in Valentino
After spending most of awards season in a series of thigh-slit gowns that showed off her dancer’s legs, the West Side Story star and Best Supporting Actress winner switched up her style and made history as an Afro-Latina queer woman picking up her trophy in a killer pair of pants. We love that she paired them with a cape to elevate the drama. Wish we could say the same for that top.
Nicole Kidman in Armani Prive
Sometimes, a legend needs to step out onto the Oscars red carpet to show the rest of the stars how it’s done. The Being the Ricardos star and Best Actress nominee stunned in this drop-dead gorgeous gown, custom dyed to her specifications by her good friend Giorgio. The color looks amazing on her and we love the trailing sparkle on the train. That cherry red lip is the perfect finishing touch.
Timothee Chalamet in Louis Vuitton
The boy-prince showed up looking every inch a rock star by ditching a shirt, baring his sternum, and probably changing the rules for menswear at the Oscars forever. Plenty of people will loathe the idea of shirtlessness at the Academy Awards, but we think the Dune star looked insanely stylish.
Zendaya in Valentino
Maybe there was some sort of anti-shirt pact made among the Dune cast, because Zendaya showed up in the teeniest little baby blouse you ever saw, which felt like a clear homage to Sharon Stone’s white men’s shirt at the 1998 Oscars. She and her master stylist Law Roach made magic again, by pairing the quarter-shirt with a gorgeously shimmering skirt with an enormous, dramatic flounce. It was cool and hot and modern and classic all at the same time.
Jada Pinkett Smith in Jean Paul Gaultier
Combining Gilded Age grandeur with space queen drama, Jada re-affirmed her status as one of the most uniquely stylish stars in Hollywood. We adore this wild and luxurious look. She comes off every inch a queen.
Andrew Garfield in Saint Laurent
The Tick, Tick…Boom! star charmed everyone and made a lot of folks swoon throughout awards season with his suave, sexy, playful sense of style. He capped a perfect red-carpet run with this adorably dandified take on a classic look, pairing a sophisticated velvet double-breasted jacket with a fun and fabulous floppy bow tie.
Venus and Serena Williams in Elie Saab and Gucci
The legends and executive producers of King Richard came out to support the film and its nominated stars in these impossible-to-ignore looks, each pretty much perfectly suited to the wearer. We love the way Serena’s Gucci look combines romance, softness, and sexy fierceness. We think Venus’s Elie Saab gown is strong and sexy, but just didn’t love the neckline.
Olivia Colman in Dior
The star of The Lost Daughter and Best Actress nominee has always had a fascinating preference for modest coverage combined with high glamour. What’s even more interesting is how often she pulls it off. This is a spectacular and fun look that delivers so much visual punch with relatively little fuss or effort.
Kirsten Dunst in vintage Christian Lacroix
The star of The Power of the Dog and Best Actress nominee has long had a true fashionista’s love of vintage, so it’s no surprise to see her in it on the biggest night of the year. She’s also a fan of softly romantic elements with vaguely retro undertones and we adore that she looks like a rose in this pretty and simple gown.
Aunjanue Ellis in Atelier Versace
The King Richard star looked regal, powerful, and dramatically elegant in this exuberant orange custom Versace gown. She asked Donatella Versace to embroider “Jax Baby” on the left shoulder as a tribute to her mother, so this is both fabulous and touching.
Kristen Stewart in Chanel
The long-time Chanel muse and Spencer star managed to surprise everyone and make a case for a new way of approaching the Oscars red carpet by not only ditching a skirt, but coming halfway to ditching pants as well. She served up killer coolness and queer excellence in a style that only she could have pulled off with such ease. We love that she switched her pumps out for loafers before she even hit the end of the carpet.
Maggie Gyllenhaal in Schiaparell
The director of The Lost Daughter served to a T— literally—in this striking and totally weird Schiaparelli look. We think she’s always at her best when her style is off the beaten path, so this really appealed to us. We’re always going to love when someone gets goofy on the Oscars red carpet.
Penelope Cruz in Chanel
The Parallel Mothers star and Best Actress nominee has long been a Chanel ride-or-die, but we thought this gown, while lovely and elegant, was a bit of a letdown.
Caitriona Balfe in Louis Vuitton
We’re sorry to say that this look from the Belfast star was not one of our favorites of the night. She’s been really great about staking her claim as a big-time movie star in looks that evoke old school stars. This white gown just doesn’t pop in pictures and the straps look too widely placed.
Lily James in Atelier Versace
The Pam & Tommy star crossed classic Versace sexiness with a Disney princess sweetness and it worked so well because that’s exactly where her style sweet spot lies.
Zoe Kravitz un Saint Laurent
The star of The Batman traded in her slinky Catwoman-inspired looks of late for this coolly restrained take on a classic Audrey Hepburn style. It was a great way to remind the world that she’s as perfect for classic romance as she is for boldly dark superhero films. It felt like an “I’m more than Catwoman” moment and she delivered it quietly and flawlessly.
Simu Liu in Versace
The Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star drew every eye toward him in this dazzling and dignified custom Versace tuxedo. It didn’t rewrite the book or reinvent the wheel, but it was one of our favorite menswear looks of the night.
Billie Eilish in Gucci
This enormous pile of Gucci looks like a bad mood in dress form and while we don’t think it’s particularly pretty or glam, we respect it for giving the distinct impression that it doesn’t care what anyone thinks of it. The best thing about Billie Eilish’s style is that she can go completely high fashion while seemingly critiquing the very idea of it at the same time.
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