The Oscars are one of the most anticipated awards shows of the year, but not because of the gold statuette alone.
Although the Oscars were created to recognize the most superior film work and performances, fashion rules the roost at the Academy Awards.
It's hard to tear your gaze away from the parade of glamour on the legendary red carpet. Versace, Oscar de la Renta and Givenchy are among the most well-loved fashion designers whose dresses have been worn by actresses to the esteemed event. In fact, many designers became world-famous because of a design they created for a blushing beauty at the Academy Awards.
Wondering which celebrities have donned the best Oscar dresses since the first ceremony in 1929? We've done the research for you! Here are our picks for the 10 best Oscar dresses ever.
At the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, silent film star Mary Pickford wore a fitted beaded gown that flared below her hips and that had a playful bow at her chest.
Pickford won the Oscar that year for Best Actress for her role in "Coquette." It was her first role in a talking movie.
After she passed away in 1979, her husband remarried and then subsequently passed away himself, leaving his estate (and Pickford's Oscar) to his new wife.
Pickford's Oscar has since been at the center of a long-standing controversy between its heirs' desire to sell it for charity and the Academy's desire to return it to a collection of other inherited or unwanted awards.
Luise Rainer was nominated for an Academy Award in 1937 for her role in "The Great Ziegfeld,"but she wasn't planning on attending the event. She'd won an Oscar the previous year and didn't expect to win two years in a row.
Rainer was surprised when her studio chief called, ordering her to attend. She didn't own many dresses, so she actually wore her nightgown, stating that it was "the nicest dress [she] owned."
Judging from this picture, it's hard to tell Rainer's dress is a nightgown in disguise. The form-fitting garment with bell sleeves and mock turtleneck looks thoroughly stylish (and we bet it was the most comfortable dress ever worn to the Oscars). Rainer did take home an award, becoming the first thespian to win back-to-back Oscars.
On Jan. 12, 2011, Rainer turned 101 years old, making her the oldest living Oscar winner to date.
Olivia de Havilland
Olivia de Havilland's gown at the 1947 Academy Awards was created by Ann Lowe, an African-American fashion designer. Lowe was among the first Africa-American designers to achieve great success with her work.
The gown was pale blue with appliquéd flowers down the bodice and on the full skirt. The strapless sweetheart neckline was trimmed with tiny ruffles, and de Havilland wore a single strand of pearls around her neck.
De Havilland won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in "To Each His Own."
The dress caught Jacqueline Kennedy's eye, and the future first lady commissioned her wedding gown through Ann Lowe.
The dress Audrey Hepburn wore to the 1954 Academy Awards is one of the most famous Oscar gowns of all time.
Designed by Givenchy, the white belted floral dress showed off Hepburn's slim shoulders and arms, two of her most striking assets. The dress achieved the perfect balance by showcasing Hepburn's delicate features and establishing her bold, fashion-forward style that would make a statement for decades to come.
Hepburn won the Academy Award for her role in "Roman Holiday," which is now one of the most beloved romantic comedies of all time.
Looking at pictures of Hepburn in her dress, you might notice that her makeup is a little heavy. She'd actually just gotten off set filming her next movie and had barely enough time to change into her dress and make it to the awards ceremony. She was still wearing her stage makeup when she accepted her Oscar.
Elizabeth Taylor won the Oscar for Best Actress in 1960 for her role in "Butterfield 8," in which she played a call girl for actor Laurence Harvey.
Her Dior gown was comprised of a full, ivory skirt and a bright yellow silk top. Around her waist, she wore a hunter-green sash and red silk rose. The screen siren completed her look with elbow-length silk gloves.
A few weeks before the Oscars, Taylor came down with a severe case of pneumonia and underwent a tracheotomy. Surgery didn't keep her from attending the Academy Awards. She showed up in her darling Dior -- tracheotomy scar in plain view -- and accepted her award with her husband at her side.
Rumor has it that right after she walked backstage, she went straight into a bathroom and fainted.
Liza Minnelli won the 1972 Best Actress Academy Award for her role in "Cabaret."
Despite Minnelli's larger-than-life star power, she opted for a simple Halston cashmere dress and matching jacket … in bright, bold yellow. She accented her ensemble with a woven gold and copper choker, and a long gold chain that hung below her bust line. On her feet? Matching yellow pumps. (Note: This was before the fashion world turned up its nose at matchy-matchy outfits, so we give Minnelli credit for her efforts.)
Minnelli was the first actor to win an Oscar whose parents also received Academy Awards during their acting careers.
At the end of her acceptance speech, Minnelli said, "Thank you for giving me this award. You've made me very happy."
Marlee Matlin's lavender lace and silk gown by Theoni Aldredge was a showstopper -- even for 1980s fashion!
The dramatic, plunging neckline tapered into a tightly cinched waist with a lavender silk tie. Balancing the risky top with a modest A-line skirt, Matlin kept the look demure and feminine.
At just 21 years old, Matlin was the youngest woman to receive an Oscar for Best Actress.
She won the award for "Children of a Lesser God," which was her film debut.
What could make this victory even more amazing? Marlee had become deaf at the age of 18. With emotions high, she gave her acceptance speech entirely in sign language.
Catherine Zeta-Jones made quite a scene at the 1999 Academy Awards in a red Versace dress with metallic gold horizontal detailing that emphasized her hourglass figure.
The beauty's dark hair contrasted against the rich color of the dress, and she kept her look simple by choosing not to accessorize with statement pieces. Zeta-Jones opted for elegant diamond earrings and a diamond cuff bracelet embedded with a few ruby stones to complement her dress.
"It's an event dress. When I saw it, it was like what I used to dream about wearing," said Zeta-Jones.
She was a star in the film "Zorro," which received two Oscar nominations that year.
Reese Witherspoon wore Nina Ricci by Olivier Theyskens to the 2007 Oscars when she presented the award for Best Actor.
The figure-hugging strapless gown featured pleated silk ruffles cascading to the hemline, creating a can't-take-your-eyes-off-it effect and drawing attention to the vibrant hues of color ranging from dark purple to a pale lilac.
Witherspoon was very particular about the color of her gown, wanting it to be the perfect combination between blue and red. She even sent a swatch of fabric to her designer to ensure that the color turned out exactly as she envisioned it.
She accessorized her Oscar look with major bling, wearing a 1930s diamond bracelet on her right arm and 12.5-carat diamond earrings. Letting her earrings and gown steal the show, Witherspoon wore her hair down in a simple, sleek style.
Cameron Diaz stole the show with her Oscar de la Renta gown at the Oscars in 2010.
The Hollywood bombshell chose a champagne-colored dress accented with gold beading and metallic ribbon embroidery. Diaz played down the hard-body image she's known for by going with an elegant A-line silhouette. What the dress lacked in sex appeal, it made up for in luster. It made Diaz shine -- literally.
Styled by Rachel Zoe, Diaz wore more than $100,000 in Cartier jewelry, including white gold hoop earrings and two white gold diamond rings. She donned Brian Atwood gold satin pumps on her feet, and her ruby red lips turned heads all the way down the red carpet.
During the ceremony, Diaz took the stage with comedic actor Steve Carell to present the award for Best Animated Feature.
From the bikini to the Hermès Birkin bag, fashion favorites are often named for the people and places that inspired them. HowStuffWorks looks at 10.
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