1. Hailee Steinfeld in Marchesa
Image courtesy of Bang Media
For her first Oscar outing, True Grit star Hailee Steinfeld was gorgeously age-appropriate in this frothy Marchesa number. At a mere 14 years old, the rising starlet capped off a remarkable red carpet year wearing Miu Miu, Prada, and Prabal Gurung with the élan of someone twice her age.
2. Lady Gaga in Chanel couture
It may not be as fabulously grotesque as last year’s meat dress but the hoop-skirted custom Chanel confection that Gaga donned to unveil her holiday pop-up store at Barneys was elegant yet stayed true to her eccentric sensibilities. Perhaps Gaga is growing up.
3. Kate Middleton in Alexander McQueen
Edith Head, the peerless Hollywood costume designer who outfitted that other royal bride, Grace Kelly, said you can have anything in life if you dress for it. Enter Kate Middleton looking radiant and regal in a Sarah Burton-designed bridal gown by Alexander McQueen. On her big day, the Duchess of Cambridge shrewdly managed to balance how to look like a 21st century woman whilst still holding up the integrity and dignity of the British monarchy.
4. Pippa Middleton in Alexander McQueen
Not one to play second fiddle, Pippa’s Sarah Burton for McQueen design forever banished the idea that bridesmaid ensembles have to be hideous. It perfectly enhanced her sporty figure and made an instant star out of her perky posterior.
5. Emma Stone in Giambattista Valli
We’ve had a serious girl-crush on Stone ever since she appeared at the Friends with Benefits premiere last spring. The ginger beauty’s Giambattista Valli ensemble ticked all the right trend boxes: Peplums! Colour blocking! Ladylike silhouettes! It was an outfit that was as vibrant and playful as her bubbly personality.
More of the most memorable frocks from 2011 on the next page... 6. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in Gucci
The Victoria’s Secret model certainly spread her wings this year with an acting debut in the box office smash Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon. The Brit beauty was absolutely flawless for every red carpet premiere, but it was this sheer Gucci dress from the Moscow premiere that cemented her Angel-turned-phenomenon status.
7. Keira Knightley in Mary Katrantzou
Knightley has always been a bit of a risk-taker on the red carpet, forgoing the ubiquitous LBD in favour of avant-garde silhouettes by emerging labels. Case in point? The English rose stepped out in this graphic midi-length dress by fledgling designer Mary Katrantzou at the Venice Film Festival. It’s a look that felt refreshingly modern and chic, yet nonchalant.
8. Kate Winslet in Stella McCartney
Far from prudish, The Mildred Pierce actress flaunted her figure at the N.Y.C. premiere in a peek-a-boo Stella McCartney dress and ankle strap heels. The look was so successful that Winslet took more several turns in McCartney’s body-con frocks, but it was this sheer-panelled number in particular that reminded women that sexy can be powerful.
9. Michelle Obama in Alexander McQueen
It was the dress that almost caused an international incident. For weeks after the fact, people debated the fashionable First Lady’s choice of a British designer for the state dinner in honour of the Republic of China. Designer Oscar de la Renta questioned MObama’s eveningwear standards, the CFDA and Diane von Furstenberg expressed their “disappointment,” and the blogosphere, unsurprisingly, triggered a flurry of colourful responses. For the record, we felt she looked bold and statuesque in the printed scarlet McQueen design but it may be a moot point: only a few weeks later Obama opted for an American designer – Tom Ford, to be exact - when she attended a state dinner at Buckingham Palace.
10. Jennifer Lopez in Pucci
Turning the heat up on the red carpet while still looking like a lady isn't as easy as it sounds. Too much va-va-voom and a girl can look like she just stepped out of Jersey Shore. Exhibit A? Jennifer Lopez, who arrived at the BAFTA “Brits to Watch” event (also attended by Will and Kate) in an audacious cutout Pucci dress. We’re assuming she thought the frock was the most ferocious of full court regalia, but it was a bit gauche for the royals, and one that committed the ultimate style sin: trying too hard.
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