Glam Fashion at the Academy Awards

Vintage Fashion for the Academy Awards1. Coco Chanel Beaded Purse from Nachokitty
2. Black Velvet Evening Gown from Mary Beth Hale

3. Victorian Diamond Filigree Ring from Poor Mouchette

4. Terani Couture Gown from 86 Vintage

5. Gold Metallic High Heels from Story Tellers Vintage

6. Silk Strapless Party Dress from Roselein Rarities


The Oscar’s are about movies and dresses. “Who are you wearing?” has become a must ask question on the red carpet, and actors and actresses are decked out in designer dresses and suits ready to answer. If we take a look back Academy Award history, there has been quite an evolution in style for the event.

In 1929, Janet Gaynor wore an off-the-rack skirt and blouse for her win of Best Actress at the very first Academy Awards.

Janet Gaynor Best Actress 1929

Bette Davis won two Oscars for Best Actress. When receiving her first for Dangerous in 1936, she wore a frumpy dress as a protest of studio head Jack Warner.

Betty-Davis-1935-Vogue-6Feb14For her 2nd award in 1939, Bette glammed up in a striking black dress with gossamer collar.

Betty-Davis-1939-Vogue-6Feb14

In 1938, Luise Rainer won the best actress Oscar. She had not expected to win as she won the year before, and so had stayed home. However, word got around during the ceremony that she was going to win again, and the head of her studio, Louis B. Meyer, sent a car to bring her to the ceremony. She had no time to apply makeup, and accepted her award in her beautiful, high necked, long sleeved night gown.

Luise Rainer 1938 Best Actress Oscar

In 1941, in the midst of World War II, the Academy asked guests to wear dark, understated clothes and emphasized using American made fabrics. Ginger Rogers won Best Actress and accepted wearing a lovely gray silk dress with black lace accents that was made in USA.

Ginger-Rogers-Jimmy-Stewart-1941

In the 1950s, leading ladies would often be dressed by studio costume designers for glitzy events. Edith Head was the most prolific of all costume designers. She herself was nominated for 35 Academy Awards, including every year from 1948 to 1966, and won 8 awards, the most of any woman. It was she who designed Grace Kelly’s stunning dress for her Best Actress win in 1955.

Grace-Kelly-1955

In 1979, Barbara Streisand took a risk, and wore a daring black sequin, see-through pant suit while accepting the award for best actress. For an event that had become very polished with classic evening wear, she stood out and set the stage for the Oscars as a place for celebrities distinguish themselves through fashion.

Barbara Streisand 1979 Best Actress

And it was in 1997, that the first haute couture dress was worn on the red carpet. Nicole Kidman wore a chartreuse silk gown trimmed with mink designed by John Galliano for Dior.

Nicole-Kidman-in-Dior-1997-Galliano

The red carpet today has become a large collaboration (and business) between celebrities, stylists, and fashion houses. We look forward to seeing all the beautiful dresses worn this year!


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Written by: 86 Vintage
Curators of antique and vintage pieces in decor and fashion. With their backgrounds in fashion and interior design, they select pieces that provoke thought and creativity. Whether in its craftsmanship, worn patina, pattern, or color, each piece is appreciated for its unique character.
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About Written by: 86 Vintage

Curators of antique and vintage pieces in decor and fashion. With their backgrounds in fashion and interior design, they select pieces that provoke thought and creativity. Whether in its craftsmanship, worn patina, pattern, or color, each piece is appreciated for its unique character.

22 Replies to “Glam Fashion at the Academy Awards”

  1. Great pictures of old Hollywood – thanks for doing the research! Very interesting to see how things started and where they are today when it comes to movie star glam.

  2. Really interesting. Love the photos that illustrate the “progress” of fashion so well. And, I really loved the story about the winning actress who couldn’t attend, but showed up in regular clothes and no make-up. She’s beautiful!

  3. How fun to read about the fashion history that goes with the awards ceremonies. Excellent post, love all the photos, many of my favorites here, especially Jimmy Stewart and Ginger Rogers photo, just classic!

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