The Oscars Red Carpet is generally a snoozefest, because the pressure to look perfect is so intense that most people just play it safe. But leave it to the many musicians who have rolled through over the years to liven up the evening with some rock star style. Here, we look back at some artists who have scored Academy Awards invites and kept it real on the carpet.
Don’t sleep on Barbra Streisand. These days, she’s a classic, but back then, she was that girl wearing a sheer dress on the fanciest night in Hollywood. And in the 1960s!
When Isaac Hayes was nominated for writing the theme song for Shaft, one of the most stylish movies of all time, he couldn’t exactly let himself show up in jeans and a T-shirt. Instead, he took it all the way to the other extreme, rocking what is probably the only shearling suit we’ve ever seen and being hands-down the coolest, baldest, baddest dude at the awards.
Liza was famously best buds with Halston in the Studio 54 days, and she repped New York disco hard at the awards with this orange cashmere Halston dress, which is probably the most modern, minimal look you can imagine at such a proper event, especially in 1972.
People forget that disco producer Giorgio Moroder won three Oscars for his songs, but he did, and he managed to add a druggy, clubby touch to a classic tux with this awesome pair of sunglasses in 1978.
Stevie Wonder won an Oscar in 1985, and though he kept it pretty tame out of respect, he let some embroidered lapels show his true, adventurous colors.
Cher showed up to present a lifetime achievement award to Don Ameche, who was apparently pissed because the next day no one cared about his award and everyone only cared about this dress.
Madonna was promoting Dick Tracy and “Vogue” and firmly in her Old Hollywood redux phase, while Michael was having his very popular, Bubbles-the-chimpanzee-and-sequins-moment, so when the two biggest pop stars in the world showed up on a first date trip to the Oscars red carpet, they shut it down. This is weird, postmodern, late-20th century glamor done right—nostalgic but costume-y, with just enough over-the-top-ness to not to feel too retro. Seriously curious as to what they talked about all night. Pepsi? Matching your Swarovski crystals to your shoes?
This is that easy feeling that only the biggest rock stars in the world can have. The Oscars might be the biggest pop culture night of the year, but true legends never care that much, and Whitney and Bruce look cool and relaxed in their yin-and-yang, black-and-white suits.
Alright, Luda. Love that we didn’t even know that he wore glasses, and he chooses to pull them out as an accessory for an extra-long, three-button, velvet tux. Not crazy about the black-on-black-on-black with the shirt and tie, but he’s doing it his way, and we respect that.
Enough words have been said about this dress, but at least she looks different.
Please don’t hate us for saying this, but as amazing as Beyonce is at every other moment of her existence, we do not think she’s the best red carpet dresser in the game. She’s made mistakes, and only rarely nails it. In 2005, she came as close as she could with a super simple black dress that’s safe but beautiful and makes her and Jay-Z look like the perfect couple. But we’re a little less sympathetic to her garb in 2007: that dress might be Armani, but it’s just too mermaid-y for our taste. And that color! Looks like Florida wallpaper, which is awesome when it’s on a wall, but less so when it’s on a person. Why every single person in Hollywood seems to fall back on a mermaid look is hard for us to understand, since generally, it makes a woman look like she’s going to the prom.
All hail the queen of red carpet dressing. Seriously! JLo treats each carpet experience like it’s a movie role, fully committing to a major glamor moment and, in our humble opinion, putting everybody else to shame. It’s just straight-up how Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor would dress if they were young today—at once classic and completely 21st century.
Are Three 6 Mafia the only Oscar winners ever to wear metallic grills to the ceremony? That’s enough to put them in the history books.
The rumor is that Diddy brought his own, personal lint-rolling assistant to the carpet, so no wonder he looks so perfect. A one-button tux is a really great idea, and this is one of the best-cut suits we could possibly imagine.
Showing every guy on the carpet how to wear a tux. Fits him to a T, with subtle styling on the lapels. Plus, a floppy, velvet bow tie that just makes him look like a Lanvin model.