Rock the red carpet…in a swan dress?

Awards show outfits strive to stitch passion and perplexion together

Award shows are known for many things: the intense waiting period before the result comes out, the emotional speeches winners deliver, and occasionally, unthinkable instances of celebrity drama. However, one staple that many people look forward to each year is the red carpet ready looks that the attendees wear. Though most instances are merely just lavish, expensive gowns, a few celebrities went the extra mile and attended in looks that are sometimes more memorable than the awards, speeches, or nominees themselves.
The 1986 Oscars saw Cher leave the audience starstruck with a showgirl inspired dress. The ensemble was made up of a bedazzled two-piece costume, adorned with rhinestones, sequins, and hanging gems, and the look was completed with the addition of a stunning black feathered headdress. However, the most astonishing part of Cher’s appearance was that she was not even nominated for an award. She was upset that her film “Mask” did not receive a nomination, so in retaliation, she decided to show up in her aforementioned look as a so-called “revenge ensemble.” Funnily enough, she would go on to win an Oscar two years later for her role as Loretta in “Moonstruck.”
In 2001, Icelandic singer Bjork turned heads at the Oscars with her swan dress, which was a white fluffy gown with a long swan neck wrapped from her chest to her neck. To add to the avian effect, Bjork dropped fake eggs in her wake as she walked down the runway. She claimed that her dress drew inspiration from early twentieth century carnival animals, and was meant to be a tribute to choreographer Bubsy Berkeley, who often based his works around showgirls with feathered dresses. Though people perceived it as a joke or even a mistake at the time, the dress remains an iconic, unforgettable look over two decades later.
Classy yet complex outfit choices are not limited to movie stars alone, however. Many music award shows have had their share of unusual looks as well.
In 2000, Jennifer Lopez stunned the Grammy Awards with a tropical, jungle green Versace dress. Though the actual awards show was generally unaffected, the aftermath quite literally broke the internet. So many people looked up “J-Lo Versace” trying to find pictures of the dress that Google eventually created Google Images, which allowed users to search for pictures only, in order to filter out some of the searches.
Lady Gaga is known to tread off of the beaten path, and her award show outfits are no different. From coming to the 2011 Grammys in an alien-like “egg” to her pale pink feather dress at the 2018 Venice film festival, the “Applause” singer clearly has no shortage of eccentric ensembles. However, the dress that went down in the most infamy was easily her 2010 MTV Awards Gown, which was made entirely out of raw beef. Though she did not explicitly state her reasons for wearing the dress, many believe it was meant to send a message, but the speculations about which one range from the ideas of how society sees women to how America views the meat industry. Regardless of what exactly Gaga meant by this dress, it still draws acclaim, speculation, and controversy to this day.
At the most recent Grammy Awards, Kim Petras and Sam Smith took the red carpet by storm with their complementary crimson attire. Petras’ “goth bridal” look, complete with a matching veil and massive ruby amulet necklace, drew attention from fashion magazines all across the country. Many believe that Smith and Petras’ bright red costumes were meant to be an homage to their latest collaboration “Unholy,” as the color schemes match those present in their music video. Coincidentally enough, not one week later, Smith made fashion headlines again at the Brit Awards, this time for their black inflatable latex look.
Celebrities have, do, and will likely always dress to impress at these sorts of functions, regardless of whether they win or lose. But the most enigmatic part of it all is the reason for it all. Whether it’s to make an artistic statement, ensure that they are the center of attention, or even to pay homage to past figures, all of these beguiling—and occasionally bewildering—fashion choices have two primary purposes in common: self-expression and dazzling the viewers at home.