Over the past few years, celebrities have embraced vintage fashion like never before. When you’re ultra-famous, top designers clamour to dress you in their latest creations but stylish stars are increasingly opting for rare vintage finds instead of the standard next-season designer fare.
The one place that celebrities have to look their very best is on the red carpet. We have seen many of the most influential faces in fashion flock to past designer collections for some of their biggest red carpet moments, reigniting the conversation about, and interest in, wearing vintage dresses. Whether it's a way of promoting sustainable fashion or simply a case of finding something unique to wear, we love seeing these fabulous archival gowns getting another moment in the spotlight. We've put together ten of the best mid-century vintage red carpet looks from some of our favourite celebrities.
For the 72nd Annual Academy Awards, Winona Ryder searched through her own closet to find the perfect Oscar dress; this strapless black 1940s vintage Pauline Trigère gown. This chic full-length dress was pure understated glamour and remains a red carpet classic over twenty years later. She wore this elegant plain black sheath dress with a matching two-tone shawl.
At the 2006 Oscars, Jennifer Lopez picked this stunning form-fitting rouched green dress from Jean Dessès. She was the epitome of old-school glamour in this vintage chiffon gown made in 1959. During his heyday from the 1940s to the 1960s Dessès designed for a number of society figures including the wedding dress of Princess Sophia of Greece, making him a natural choice for celebrities today.
In 2006 Reese Witherspoon won the Academy Award for Best Actress in Walk the Line. She looked absolutely magical when she accepted her award as she was wearing this beaded vintage Christian Dior dress. Originally made in 1957, the actress found it in a vintage store in Paris & had to beg the owner to part with it. Apparently it once belonged to royalty and it certainly made Reese look like a princess!
Kate Moss wore this stunning vintage 1930s gown to the V&A Golden Age Of Couture Gala in 2007. The pale gold silk dress made headlines not just for being gorgeous, but because during the evening Moss accidentally ripped it. Not one to be fazed by such things, she shortened the hem of the skirt and continued partying.
Whilst not true vintage, the custom black silk faille gown that Kirsten Dunst wore to the 2017 Oscars was inspired by the 'Sonnet' dress from Christian Dior’s Autumn/Winter Haute Couture collection from 1952. Vintage Dior is hard to come by so Dunst had the luxury of receiving a custom re-creation courtesy of the fashion house. The cinched waist, elevated bust and flared hips are all classic features of Dior’s original designs.
Natalie Portman has been the face of Miss Dior, the French luxury house's signature floral fragrance, since 2011. It was no surprise then that she turned up to the 2012 Oscars ceremony wearing this vintage Dior dress for Hollywood’s biggest night. The red strapless gown from 1954 featured small black polka dots and was borrowed from couture dealer Rare Vintage. The dress divided critics at the time, but it recently sold for $50,000 - so someone obviously loved this rare couture piece.
Renée Zellweger looked bright & beautiful on the 2001 Oscars red carpet in this canary yellow chiffon dress by French designer Jean Dessès. Made in 1959, it was one of the most noted dresses of the night for its tricky-to-wear colour and elegant draping. Many of the gowns designed by Dessès were inspired by the drapery of early Greek & Egyptian robes and this stunning dress is no exception.
Penelope Cruz chose a classic Old Hollywood glamour dress to accept her Best Supporting Actress award for Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2009. A strapless neckline and full skirt were accented by beautiful beading in the Spanish actress's 1950s vintage Pierre Balmain look. She looked heart-stoppingly beautiful in this sparkling ivory gown with a fluted lace trim.
At the Met Costume Institute Gala in 2009, Marisa Tomei wore this 1940s vintage Adrian ivory crepe halterneck gown. The dress had a beautiful intricate gold embroidered detail cascading down the front. Adrian was one of the most important costume designers of the early 20th Century, merging high fashion with studio wardrobe so it’s brilliant to see today’s celebrities honouring his work.
Kaitlyn Denver is a fast rising star and the young actress always shows up looking absolutely incredible on the red carpet. In 2020 she attended the Vanity Fair & Lancôme Women In Hollywood event wearing a sweet Christian Dior haute couture empire gown from the 60s. The pale silk dress featured a floral sequined bodice and hand-dipped feather trim. This phenomenal 1960s vintage piece came from the popular vintage archive Shrimpton Couture.
Let us know your favourite vintage red carpet look!