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A year on the red carpet: 2019’s most stylish
Who was the best dressed in 2019? Rachel Marie Walsh presents her top ten fashion moments
2019 has been a big year for warm colour and sequins on the red carpet. From splashy comic-book blockbuster premieres to over-the-top couture during awards season and a camp-themed Met Gala, celebrities have projected light and fun.
Helen Mirren in Schiaparelli at the Academy Awards
Helen Mirren has been a style icon since we didn’t throw that term at anyone mildly famous wearing a borrowed outfit. Her flair pre-dates celebrity stylists and the use of red carpets to foist some truly dodgy clothing upon people who don’t follow fashion but like to catch up with tabloid news. She surely deserves some elevated status, then, and all women, whatever their age can agree that she teaches us a valuable lesson about dressing: sister, know thyself. There is little more valuable to your wardrobe than recognising what really works for your body and shopping accordingly. Dame Mirren had lots of great fashion moments this year but the Schiaparelli Haute Couture she wore to the Oscars was particularly lovely. The surrealist designer was most famous for this pink and it makes the skin luminous.
Kim Kardashian in Thierry Mugler and Mr. Pearl at the Met Gala
Kim Kardashian is a conversation starter. Most everyone has an opinion on her life and style and the collective is oxygen, water and food to the international monster that is her brand. She surely knew this Thierry Mugler latex dress would make waves at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute Gala and even enhanced the mermaid-like look with wet-look hair. There was much talk of the discomfort she endured in the extreme Mr. Pearl corsetry beneath and what a terrible example she was setting with her unrealistic curves. In her defence, she was very transparent about the fakery, both on Instagram and to vogue.com (which filmed her getting ready). It still made for a fabulous fashion moment.
Lady Gaga in Céline at the Grammy Awards
This was a spectacular year for Lady Gaga, I think everyone took that moment on stage with Bradley Cooper at the Oscars as more reality than performance, she expelled rather than suspended our disbelief. The Star is Born press tour was filled with fashion moments, including multiple ballgowns and a pretty vulgar striptease on the steps of the Met’s Costume Institute. This custom Céline dress she chose for the Grammys was just so cool. For readers who do not pore over everything Hedi Slimane does: this dress began life as a mini in his Spring 2019 collection for Céline and is inspired by the Eighties, a more-ish decade in fashion that was hitherto not very him but always totally Gaga. She even went with Debbie Harry hair here.
Saoirse Ronan in Alexander McQueen at the Edinburgh premiere of Mary, Queen of Scots
Saoirse Ronan is another lady who’s had lots of fabulous fashion moments this year but this one from January was too perfect to top. There was a tiny Black Watch tartan cape made to go with this pink dress, she wore it to watch Nicola Sturgeon play drums at the Mary, Queen of Scots premiere
and called ms Sturgeon her “an incredible leader. Alexander McQueen was the perfect label for the event. Now creative directed by Sarah Burton, the late founder had a deep connection to his Scottish heritage, as well as conflicted feelings about the union that he expressed through couture collections like The Widows of Culloden (Autumn/Winter 2006) and Highland Rape (Autumn/Winter 1995).
Victoria Beckham in Victoria Beckham at the GQ Men of the Year Awards
Victoria Beckham continues to slowly build an empire of her very own, expanding her eponymous brand into beauty this year. Here she is in September at the GQ Awards looking better than an underwear model/footballing OBE/national treasure in head-totoe Tom Ford, which is no mean feat. Her double-breasted suit is her own design, slightly oversized but still beautifully tailored.
Scarlett Johansson in Atelier Versace at the Los Angeles premiere of Avengers: Endgame
Scarlett Johansson wore this Versace cocktail dress in April and I want it so badly — even eight months later — that I have left all the other beautiful Versace that got red carpet exposure this year off of these pages, including Taylor Swift’s colourful jumpsuits and Kim K’s vintage snakeskin find for The People’s Choice Awards. This dress is champagne chainmail with a corset exposed in the back. ScarJo’s Sonia Boyajian custom jewels were inspired by the six ‘infinity’ stones, which I am sure Avengers fans appreciate at least as much as this amazing dress. She also wore vintage ruby earrings and Jimmy Choo ‘Minny’ sandals.
Madisin Rian in Iris Van Herpen at The Diamond Ball to benefit the Clara Lionel Foundation
Both high art and haute couture create spectacular moments visually and this Iris Van Herpen combines the two. Iris van Herpen is a Dutch couturier who shows at Paris Couture Week. She collaborated with American kinetic sculptor Anthony Howe. Madisin Rian, an American beauty discovered by Kimora Lee Simmons at St. Louis Fashion Week, attended The Diamond Ball at Cipriani Wall Street.
Brie Larson in Prada at the TIME 100 Gala Brie
Larson has resembled Grace Kelly so closely and so often this year that you might suspect her of bucking for the lead in a biopic we haven’t heard about yet. I’m not complaining, channeling to late princess is generally a route to red carpet success. Here she is in a radzimir silk Prada gown with a sweetheart neckline at the Time 100 Gala in New York. Pocket details on red carpet gowns are increasingly popular and why not? They’re not bulky and probably make the situation mildly more comfortable.
Zendaya Coleman in Vera Wang at the Emmy Awards
Zendaya Coleman’s Emmy dress was one of the night’s most feted, not the boldest but the one that made front pages the next day. It’s a very simple, semi-deconstructed Vera Wang gown but with her red hair and the emerald colour, the overall look was very striking.
Emilia Clarke in Valentino at the New York premiere of Last Christmas
Emilia Clarke dazzled in a sequinned purple gown. The Valentino dress featured an A-line silhouette and spaghetti straps.
Scarlett Johansson wore this Versace cocktail dress in April — and I want it so badly