The Red Carpet's Best Showstopping Gowns of All Time

Updated on December 3, 2018
Rachel M Johnson profile image

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for over two years.

Walking the red carpet is a constant occurrence for celebrities in Hollywood, but not all the looks that grace the runway are memorable. From the Oscars to the Emmys, here is a list of some of the best show-stopping gowns to hit the red carpet.

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Nicole Kidman

The actress donned this stunning red Balenciaga dress at the Academy Awards in 2007. The gorgeous bow turned into a train that began at the nape of her neck and floated to the floor. Kidman was a showstopper with the structured and daring gown, and the ensemble was the talk of Hollywood. Of the unique dress, the actress told InStyle, "That one was controversial. Some press people didn't like it. But that kind of talk doesn't bother me. I still liked it, especially the structure." Regardless of what the press thought, there was no denying how beautiful Kidman was in the gown.

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Blake Lively

Blake Lively had a mega fashion moment when she wore this Gucci silk chiffon mermaid gown in a lovely shade of blush. The Gucci Premiere gown was also embroidered with rose gold paillettes, with a plunging neckline and two delicate chiffon scarves that floated over her shoulders. The blonde beauty rocked this look at the 2014 Met Gala, and wore her hair in cascading waves. Lively captured the essence of old Hollywood glamour with the look, and definitely stole the spotlight that night.

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Jennifer Lawrence

At the 2013 Academy Awards, the Best Actress nominee wore a dramatic Dior Haute Couture ball gown in a beautiful light pink color. Lawrence wore a diamond string necklace that hung elegantly down her back, along with her hair pulled back. The stunning gown with the voluminous skirt caused the actress to trip (gracefully at least) when accepting her Oscar, but the charming Lawrence took it in stride. It was reported the gown was the most expensive dress to hit the red carpet, with a price of a whopping $4 million. Of her dress choice, Jennifer had said, "I just woke up and tried on the dress, and it fit, thank God! Then I took a shower-that's what I did. And I got my hair and make-up done. And then I came to the Oscars."

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Rihanna

The Barbadian beauty commanded everyone's attention when she showed up to the 2013 Grammy Awards rocking this sheer red Azzedine Alaia gown with a bold matching lip. The structured bodice and dramatic train paired beautifully with her long wavy curls and minimalist Neil Lane jewelry. Rihanna pushed the envelope by rocking the sheer look, causing some of the red-carpet reporters to express that they had seen "a lot more of Rihanna than they should of" as she passed by. Regardless, the songstress looked stunning and delivered a wow-worthy look.

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Angelina Jolie

It was the leg seen round the world! The actress wore a black Atelier Versace gown with a thigh-high slit to the 2012 Academy Awards, and sent the media in a tailspin. The choice to wear such a daring and sexy dress was heavily due to Jolie receiving criticism for her more matronly looks on the red carpet. The provocative velvet gown was a response to the nay-sayers, and the cameras wouldn't stop flashing as she posed cheekily at the awards ceremony. The famous flash of leg had the internet creating parodies, and instantly became a memorable gown.

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Nina Dobrev

The Vampire Diaries' actress looked ravishing in red when she wore this stunning Donna Karan mermaid gown to the 2011 Emmy Awards. The strapless dress with a peaked sweetheart neckline and layered hemline hugged her curves beautifully, and the scarlet color complimented her dark, tousled tresses. Dobrev was definitely a show-stopper with her silver clutch and matching necklace. The origami folds along the bottom elevated the mermaid gown, and made the whole look that much more eye-catching.

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Charlize Theron

Theron wore this glittery Gucci gown to the 2004 Academy Awards, where she was nominated (and later won) the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Monster. She was the epitome of classic Hollywood glamour, and the body hugging dress paired with the '40s-style finger waves completed the look. The gold gown even had a train, creating both a sexy yet sophisticated look that had the news buzzing for days to come.

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Mila Kunis

Kunis wore this delicate lavender and lace Elie Saab gown to the 2011 Academy Awards. The stunning, lingerie-inspired dress was daring yet elegant, and the color perfectly complimented Kunis' dark hair and figure. The intricate lace and flowing layers of chiffon added a special touch to the number, along with the plunging lace neckline. The actress completed the look with a classic updo, simple diamond earrings and bangles, and a metallic box clutch.

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Beyoncé

When Beyoncé wore this sheer embellished Givenchy gown to the 2015 Met Gala, jaws-dropped at the risque look. The bejeweled, barely there dress was see-through and accented with glittering rhinestones in all the right places. The songstress wore her hair in a high ponytail and nude ankle-strapped pumps, and served up her most daring look yet. Beyoncé was said to have referenced Coming to America for her style inspiration. Though she was the final star to arrive, she truly stole the spotlight from all the other Met Gala attendees.

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Michelle Williams

Wearing this stunning canary yellow Vera Wang saffron gown, the actress became an overnight fashion sensation when she showed up to the 2006 Academy Awards. The intricately pleated dress and unique color popped on the red carpet, and her swept back hair and bold red lip brought the outfit together. Her minimalist jewelry left the focus solely on the chiffon and tulle gown, which included a deep neckline and dramatic ruffles. The look remains one of the best in Oscars' history.

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Lupita Nyong'o

Nyong'o looked like a real-life Disney princess when she wore this magical Prada dress to the 2014 Academy Awards. The stunning pale sky blue color was gorgeous with her skin tone, and the trail of silk chiffon gave the gown an ethereal look. The pastel hue was not something often seen on the red carpet, and when interviewed by Ryan Seacrest, Nyong'o had said she chose the color because, "It's a blue that reminds me of Nairobi, so I wanted to have a little bit of home." The actress was referring to her hometown in Kenya.

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Halle Berry

Perhaps one of the most unforgettable Oscars' looks of all time was worn by none-other-than Halle Berry, at the 2002 Academy Awards. On the night she won an Oscar for her performance in Monster's Ball, Berry highlighted her stunning figure with a peek-a-boo embroidered gown from Elie Saab. With its embellished mesh bodice, burgundy full skirt and strategic embroidery, the actress' Oscar's dress remains one of the greatest of all time.

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Taylor Swift

The singer looked chic and sophisticated in a floor length, blush-toned Oscar de la Renta gown that she wore to the 2014 Met Gala. The satin-faced organza dress had matte gold sequins, silver-lined seed beads, pearl beads and rose gold metallic thread work and embroidery. Swift looked lovely with her hair pinned back in curls, and her signature bold red lip. Of her opportunity to wear the gown, she had expressed, "Oscar de la Renta is the designer I've idolized since I was a little girl. Having an opportunity to wear a one-of-kind gown designed by him is a daydream realized."

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Rihanna

Of course resident trend-setter and fashionista Rihanna has another iconic red carpet look on this list. The show-stopping yellow gown was designed by Guo Pei, who said that "only women who have the confidence of a queen could wear it." Clearly Rihanna was that queen, because the singer looked stunning in the dramatic dress. The intricately embroidered canary-yellow gown had a massive, coordinating fur-trim cape, and weighed a whopping 55 pounds. The train spanned almost the entire length of the Met steps, and the singer wore a vine-like gold headpiece to complete the ensemble.

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Emma Stone

Nominated for her performance in La La Land, Stone showed up to the 2017 Academy Awards in a gorgeous custom Givenchy look by Riccardo Tisci. The gold, Swarovski crystal-embroidered gown had cream-to-bronze degrade crystal fringed tiers, and was paired with a bronze metal clutch. Stone would go on to win the award for Best Actress later that night, and rocked this beautiful gown while accepting the Oscar. Her red tresses hung in loose waves, and her pop of red lip and simple yet elegant earrings made the look that much more stunning.

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    © 2018 Rachel M Johnson

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