As 2014 nearly comes to an end, I thought it fitting to have a look at the best-dressed women that graced the red carpet this year.
It is no question that fashion is a powerful tool for actors to elevate or even transform the public’s perception of their image. As Marc Jacobs said in the documentary In Vogue: An Editor’s Eye, “Fashion is such a fairytale and it is such a fantasy. And it is about metamorphosis and sort of changing yourself and playing a part that you want people to see.”
Amy Astley, editor of Teen Vogue, discussed the relationship between Hollywood and fashion designers in a Business of Fashion article earlier this year. She said, “…actors of all ages have become increasingly savvy about meticulously crafting and exploiting their image.” This can involve brands paying actors to appear in their designs and ad campaigns.
Take for example, Jennifer Lawrence who has capitulated from being an indie actress to an A-list Hollywood star. With this success has come a wardrobe consistently of Dior. Who can forget her trip on the way to receive her Best Actress award at the Oscars 2013 in a beautiful voluminous and strapless Dior Haute Couture gown? Lawrence’s rise in Hollywood got her a contract with the luxury brand as an ambassador which sees her in their advertising campaigns and seated front row at the ready-to-wear and couture shows.
Miu Miu is perhaps best known for being the first to grab emerging actresses as the face of the brand just when they’re reaching acclaim in their career. Hailee Steinfeld was nominated an Oscar for her role in True Grit in 2011 which was shortly followed by a feature in a Miu Miu campaign. This year’s newcomer Lupita Nyong’o has been included in the brand’s spring 2014 ad campaign with other emerging actresses Elizabeth Olsen and Bella Heathcote, just months after she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
While relationships between actresses and fashion designers isn’t new, as Audrey Hepburn’s relationship with Hubert de Givenchy can attest, technology has changed the dynamics of the relationship significantly. “The images are disseminated so much more widely, globally, instantly now,” said Astley. “It’s much more thought-out and strategic…’What am I saying with this dress and what do I want to get out of this moment in this dress, because it’s going to be seen globally?’“
The red carpet, however, can often feel lacklustre. When Anna Wintour sat down with Suzy Menkes for a discussion at Central Saint Martins she pointed out the mistakes that actors can make on the red carpet. “The red carpet, in the United States, has become too much of a business. It’s a fact that celebrities are paid to wear everything, and to me that sometimes comes across as manufactured and not individual.“
With this in mind, I consider the following to be deserving of being on the best dressed list of 2014. These are women who are not afraid to take risks, experiment with fashion and be criticised for it. As Wintour laments, “How many mermaid fishtail strapless sequin [gowns] can we see?”
Tears were shed around the world when George Clooney was no longer the ultimate bachelor when he married London-based lawyer, Amal Alamuddin. While Alamuddin hasn’t done many red-carpet appearences, her wedding getaway in Venice was nothing short of a spectacular wardrobe filled with Giorgio Armani, Stella McCartney, Oscar de la Renta and Giambattista Valli. She certainly made getting married at City Hall (mind you, in Venice) a stylish affair in a stunning cream Stella McCartney outfit that included wide-leg trousers and matching top and hat.
Lupita Nyong’o caught the attention of the fashion industry when she appeared at the Golden Globes red carpet this year in a crimson Ralph Lauren gown and cape. It was a breath of fresh air among the sea of mermaid gowns and since then it’s been one hit after another showing off bold colour, interesting shapes and a fearless attitude. Whether she’s wearing a beautiful custom-made robin’s egg blue Prada gown for the Oscars or a turquoise silk crepe column gown by Gucci, Nyong’o stuns on the red carpet and wins over critics. Her ability to take risks was all too clear when she wore a flapper-style Prada dress at this year’s MET Ball. While some were divisive about the choice of gown it showed Lupita’s ability to experiment when it comes to the red carpet.
What a stylish year it’s been for Solange Knowles which involved an unconventional wedding wardrobe that saw her riding a bicycle in a bridal Stephane Rolland dress, grabbing the role as art director and creative consultant for Puma and just basically being able to rock a magenta tailored suit like no other.
Emma Watson captured the world’s attention, especially of the younger generation, with her powerful speech to launch the HeforShe campaign as a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador. She’s smart, beautiful, and loves to experiment when it comes to the red carpet, especially in Christian Dior. Case in point: The dress-pant hybrid Dior look that Watson wore at the Golden Globes this year.
Blake Lively has always nailed the red carpet but her appeareance on this list is without a doubt influenced by her latest pregnancy wardrobe. I’ll let these photographs tell you why Lively manages to consistently stay on the best dressed lists. Note: she doesn’t even hire a stylist.
Only Rihanna could walk down the CFDA red carpet in a sheer dress completely covered in Swarvoski crystals (216,000 ones to be exact) with a matching headpiece and gloves. In what could have been seen as tacky it only made for a beautiful and elegant red carpet look. Fashionista.com said it best about Rihanna in that she “knows how to reinvent herself”. Truly the ultimate style chameleon.