Legends of the Oscars: The Most Famous Dresses in the History of the Award
Marilyn Monroe in Charles LeMaire, 1951
The 50's were the time of formation of the red carpet fashion. It was time of New Look by Dior with its usual post-war romantic, theatrical Givenchy, and feminine Balenciaga. This was the decade of three main cinema stars: Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Grace Kelly, who demonstrated designer creations, making them well known. However, sometimes the stars borrowed dresses not from designer collections, but from their own wardrobe, as this was in the case with Monroe.
At the Oscars in 1951, she appeared in a magnificent black dress made by Charles LeMaire who dressed the troupe of "All about Eve". Marilyn played a leading role in this move, and the film got six statuettes that year. For the award for Best Sound, the diva chose a dress that originally belonged to a different celebrity: several months before the event, Valentina Cortese was dressed in it in "The House on Telegraph Hill". However, Monroe was not embarrassed at all: having thrown a fur coat over the dress, she gracefully walked down to the Pantages Theater where no one could have taken the eyes from the uncrowned queen.
Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy, 1954
Unlike Marilyn Monroe who did not get the cherished statuette, Audrey Hepburn became the Oscar-winning actress for her performance in "Roman Holiday". For the triumphant appearance, she put on a lace gown by Givenchy that became her first "off-screen" co-operation experience with the designer. The outfit was identical to the costume made by Edith Head, in which Hepburn appeared in the final scenes of the movie. However, the Givenchy dress was relatively shorter and more modest, that emphasized the subtle Audrey's beauty.
Today, Audrey's floral dress has its own page on Wikipedia as an example of the ideal society look. Time magazine recognized it as the best dress of the Oscars and one of the most expensive dresses in the history; at the auction of vintage things in 2011, it was sold for nearly 132 thousand dollars, which is pretty expensive, even by Hollywood standards.
Grace Kelly in Edith Head, 1955
In the 50's, the staff designer of the Paramount studio Edith Head was more famous than any actress. During her long career, she worked in more than a thousand of foreign films and won eight (!) Oscars in "best costume" category. Edith dressed Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Debbie Reynolds, and Grace Kelly, and not only on screen, but also beyond it, transforming the unremarkable starlets into most stylish women of the era.
One of the most famous Edith's works is a dress for Miss Kelly. Made of blue satin and complemented by a light drapery and straps, it became classics of American glamour, and was often repeated afterwards. The cool color which was neglected at pompous events gave status to the Grace Kelly's look. Probably, this very dress helped her to play the last and major role in her career – the beautiful princess of Monaco and wife of Prince Rainier.