By Manasi Patwa
The red carpet has long captured the attention of the world. It’s associated with the glamour, extravagance, and brilliance of Hollywood. Whether it’s photographed at a movie premiere, an awards show, or a fashion event, the red carpet is where celebrities get an opportunity to showcase their unique styles.. Nonetheless, he most interesting part of the red carpet is its history. Over the years, red carpet fashion has evolved from old Hollywood glam looks to edgy, modern, and bold choices.
Easy, Breezy, Classic: the 1950s
Let’s start with the 1950s. The 1950s was filled with iconic actresses, including Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. Dresses were no longer conservative, but still captured a vintage, girl-next-door appeal. Typically, actresses wore long, past-the-knee gowns that had simple necklines but a classy cinch at the waist. Take a look at Grace Kelly after her Oscar award.
Actresses paired these dresses with an incredibly classic, long-sleeve white glove (as seen above) or a statement necklace. Pearls were the go-to. Hair was left down or pinned into a gorgeous up-do. This was an era of short haircuts. Sophia Loren epitomized this perfectly.
A 1970s Revolution
Moving on to the 1970s, fashion changed drastically. Red carpet attire became more casual and fun. Instead of the nude palettes from the 1950s, men and women opted for bright colors . Women chose dresses with heavy sequins and looser fittings. Going along with the more relaxed, liberal cultural atmosphere, men and women had long, flowing hairstyles. Goldie Hawn shows this in one of her most iconic photographs.
The leather jacket became a fashion staple, perhaps because of John Travolta. See below how Olivia Newton John’s playful pink dress and voluminous curls accentuate these 1970s trends. This picture is from the premiere of Grease. Notice how the formality of 1950s wear disappeared for the most part.
The 1990s Titanic Era
Flash forward to the 1990s (an era we might sort of remember?). This is when fashion on the red carpet started to mimic modern-day attire. Kate Winslet, Sally Field, and Tom Cruise started to dominate Hollywood. Men typically went for a classic black tux and bowtie.
Women returned to long, simple gowns that were body-hugging. Earrings and bold makeup choices (especially the lip) were the new statements. Interesting necklines also became a trend, with sweetheart shapes dominating. See how Halle Berry swept everyone’s breath away on the (green) carpet so long ago.
Our Time: the 2000s and Beyond
Finally, we end up in modern times which can be classified as the most “daring” era for fashion. Celebrities’ apparel choices are usually a medley of previous decades--often in dazzling, creative ways.. However, if we focus on the Oscars, there exists a general trend for women’s fashion: long, flowy gowns, sometimes accompanied by light beeding. The 21st century is definitely fond of color, but it is prioritizing lighter shades and “natural” colors such as blue, purple, brown, and mahogany. Our very own alum, Lupita Nyong’o, is pictured.
Long-sleeve gowns have also made numerous appearances, going along with the trend of simple up-dos and less jewelry. In addition, gowns feature long leg cuts (remember the infamous Angelina Jolie leg)! Overall, we can describe the current red carpet wear as elegant! Take note of Emma Stone’s heavily sequined dress and overall simple, glam look.
The next time you watch the Oscars, Grammys, or MTV awards, try to see which era the clothing seems most similar to. Chances are, it’ll be a combination of the past 60 years’ styles! Stay tuned.