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Oscars best dressed list 2021

From Zendaya’s Valentino moment to Riz Ahmed in perfect Prada, the stars delivered at the final awards ceremony of the season. Fashion editor Chloe Street selects her favourite looks

26 Apr 2021

“We’re aiming for a fusion of Inspirational and Aspirational,” read the dress code provided by the Oscars producers “…formal is totally cool if you want to go there, but casual is really not.”

Judging by the looks on display at last night’s multi-city Academy Awards event, the A-listers needed no encouragement to ditch the PJs that have been acceptable attire for the season’s other zoom-heavy ceremonies. Last night was a return to all-out red carpet fashion fabulousness.

And few looked more resplendent than best actress nominee Carey Mulligan, whose shimmering gold sequin Valentino look came with an itty-bitty crop top and a vast, two-metre-rule-enforcing skirt. Other stars opting to dress like the golden trophies they were vying for were singer Andra Day, who chose a slinky gold chainmail custom Vera Wang dress with scandalously high thigh-split and midriff cut-outs, and Leslie Odom Jr, who arrived in a double-breasted gold Brioni suit complete with matching gold shirt and tie.

Midriff baring gowns were popular across the board. Zendaya rocked a searingly bright yellow strapless Valentino Haute Couture gown with lashings of Bulgari diamonds and billowing mermaid hair, while Vanessa Kirby’s blush pink satin custom Gucci gown featured a half-moon shaped cut out, and was given edge with deep berry red lips and her platinum locks swept into a sleek bun.

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Also rocking Gucci was Promising Young Woman director, Emerald Fennell, who described her floaty green floral gown in a red carpet interview as “Susan, your pottery teacher, who has a business opportunity for you which is absolutely not a pyramid scheme.”

Vanesssa Kirby in Gucci


Event host and One Night in Miami director Rejina King achieved fairytale magic in a pale blue duchess satin flared Louis Vuitton gown that featured fantastical butterfly-like ruffled shoulders. The dress, which took the Louis Vuitton atelier over 140 hours to make, was embroidered with 62,000 sequins and 7,400 Swarovski crystals; a record-breaking number for the house. Amanda Seyfried and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm star Maria Bakalova oozed old school Hollywood glamour in floor-sweeping full-skirted tulle gowns – Seyfried’s a scarlet sculpted Armani creation and Bakalov’s angelic white Louis Vuitton.

More daredevil dressing came by way of singer H.E.R, who rocked a purple sequin hooded ensemble from Peter Dundas, inspired by the outfit Prince, her idol, wore to accept his Oscar for Purple Rain in 1985; Laura Dern, who opted for a white Ostrich-feathered Oscar de la Renta skirt and turtleneck top ensemble, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom star Colman Domingo, who sported a head-to-toe pink Atelier Versace suit that featured 4,500 Swarovski crystals and took over 150 hours to embroider.

Lakeith Stanfield in Saint Laurent


Other devilishly well dressed gents were Daniel Kaluuya, who looked effortlessly cool in Bottega Veneta tailoring and chunky Cartier bling, Riz Ahmed who paired his flawless Prada suit with a black t-shirt for a modern edge, and Lakeith Stanfield, whose custom Saint Laurent belted jumpsuit came with a plunging neckline and a pointy white collared shirt for a look that felt deliciously seventies, subversively sexy and brilliantly, perfectly current.

If inspirational and aspirational were the orders of the evening, the stars delivered in bounds.