The 10 best Oscars dresses of the past 20 years

The Oscars are the year 12 formal of Hollywood. No expense, nor spray tan or human-grade sticky tape, is spared from Hollywood’s night of nights.

The late ’90s and ’00s gave us berry lips, questionable necklines and some bad choices, many of which are making subtle comebacks. As we prepare for the 89th Academy Awards outing, here are some of the most talked-about looks seen on the red carpet over the past 20 years that are still having an impact.

Nicole Kidman’s Dior in 1997

Our Nic, then better known as “Mrs Tom Cruise”, dared wear this striking chartreuse colour with bright embroidery when everyone else was wearing pastels. Worn by anyone else this Dior creation would have looked like a dirty duvet; with Kidman’s porcelain complexion, dark lipstick and gold chandelier earrings it’s weird, but it works.

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage) .

Photo: Kevin Mazur

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Ralph Lauren in 1999

The ill-fitting candy pink dress and matching tulle wrap made poor Paltrow, who took out best actress for Shakespeare in Love, look like she came dressed as a soggy marshmallow. The ballerina-inspired chignon and Harry Winston choker necklace were sleek additions to the oversized mess of an outfit.

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage) .

Photo: WireImage

Charlize Theron’s Vera Wang in 2000

A plunging neckline and bare back combination was a revelation at the time, so too was this colour – a watered down Negroni hue that is still burnt into our red carpet retinas. Speaking of booze, it’s the only excuse I can think of for the unfortunate tight curl up ‘do.

Charlize Theron at the Morton's Restaurant in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Rob Beccaris/WireImage) Charlize Theron at the 72nd Annual Academy Awards in 2000.

Photo: Rob Beccaris

Halle Berry’s Elie Saab in 2002

She became the first black woman to take home the best actress award but that wasn’t her only groundbreaking moment of the night. The maroon – winter 2017’s hottest hue – and mesh gown introduced the Oscars to the “peek-a-boo” trend that has endured at the awards show ever since.

Halle Berry at the 2002 Oscars.

Photo: AP

Hilary Swank’s Guy Laroche in 2005

Fresh off her gruelling fitness regime for Million Dollar Baby, Swank accepted her best actress statue for the film and let her lats do the talking in this open back, long-sleeved, high-neck number by Guy Laroche. The metres of midnight blue fabric proved that sequins aren’t needed for you to shine.

Hilary Swank arrives for the 77th Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 27, 2005, in Los Angeles. Swank is nominated for an Oscar for best actress in a leading role for her work in million

Photo: Amy Sancetta

Keira Knightley’s Vera Wang in 2006

Despite her CV boasting roles that are more “chick flick” classics than cinematic greats, the Love Actually star always manages to dazzle on a red rug. Only KK, with her angular features, could wear crinkled, plum taffeta and not look like a debutante from 1984. She later donated the gown to Oxfam which raised thousands for the charity.

British actress Keira Knightley, nominated for an Oscar for best actress in a leading role for her work in Pride and Prejudice

Photo: Reed Saxon

Michelle Williams’ Vera Wang in 2006

One of the most delicious uses of saffron. The Dawson’s Creek star escorted Heath Ledger in this bold gown that had more bells and whistles than a Mardi Gras float. However the ruffles, the centre knot, her soft hair and red lipstick were a winning combination. It was edgy elegance on a scale we’ve yet to see again.

Michelle Williams, nominated for an Oscar for best actress in a supporting role for her work in Brokeback Mountain

Photo: Kevork Djansezian

Zoe Saldana’s Givenchy Couture in 2010

This Givenchy Couture ensemble was rushed from the runways of Paris for the Avatar star’s turn on the biggest catwalk in the world – the Oscars red carpet. She resembled a human toilet roll doll in the Riccardo Tisci-designed gown that had it all: sparkle, an ombre colour scheme and layer upon layer of tulle.

Actress Zoe Saldana attends the 82nd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theater on March 7, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage) .

Photo: Dan MacMedan

Jennifer Lawrence’s Dior in 2013

The off-white strapless dress was praised for its simplicity and elegance. A highlight was the Silver Linings Playbook star bragging about only trying on the dress the morning of the awards, an unheard of exercise during awards season, before tripping up the stairs and looking like a dollop of clotted cream as she went to collect her statue for best actress.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Actress Jennifer Lawrence arrives at the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Photo: Jason Merritt

Emma Stone’s Elie Saab in 2015

She pulled off this tricky colour, a colour most parents with a sick child would be familiar with, and now she’ll be one to watch at this year’s ceremony for her starring role in the critically-acclaimed La La Land.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Emma Stone arrives at the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage) .

Photo: Steve Granitz

All the red carpet action from the 2017 Oscars kicks off online from 7.30am on Monday.

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