The 93rd Academy Awards take place this Sunday (April 25th) — a ceremony bumped from its scheduled February date due to the ongoing pandemic. And despite this being a COVID-era Oscars, nominees — both in attendance and who appear via satellite — have been told that formal wear is still encouraged. In other words, no hoodies, pyjamas or track suits allowed. So as we prepare to take in the Academy Awards fashions this weekend, we’re revisiting some of our favourite classic Oscar looks from ceremonies past.

 

While it’s the biggest night in Hollywood for honouring filmmaking, a great deal of viewers’ attention will be focused on what the stars are wearing. As such, no A-list star would dare go without the professional help of stylists, makeup artists and gowns made specifically for them by a top fashion house.

But this overwhelming attention to Oscar night fashion wasn’t always the norm.

The first Academy Award ceremony took place on May 16, 1929, and was a dinner party at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood attended by merely 250 people. Just 15 awards were handed out, and the ceremony lasted 15 minutes.

By the 1950s, when the Academy began broadcasting the ceremony live, fashion began to play an important role on Oscar night. But unlike the glam squad employed by a celebrity today, one woman dictated what an actress attending Oscar night should wear: Edith Head.

The legendary costume designer, who earned 35 Oscar nominations over the course of her career — and won eight — became a fashion consultant during the 1950s right up until 1970.

With her keen eye and talent for what looks good on film and what looks great against a backdrop, she was able to offer advice on not just clothing but also makeup and the colours attendees should wear.

So without the help of their own personal army of high-priced fashion professionals, nominated actresses stepped out on Hollywood’s biggest night and managed to look glamorous. Scroll through the images below for some of our favourite classic Oscar looks.

 

1. Elizabeth Taylor with her second husband, British actor Michael Wilding, at the Academy Awards in 1954.

 

25th March 1954: British-born actor Elizabeth Taylor smiles while walking with her second husband, British actor Michael Wilding (1912-1979), at the Academy Awards, Los Angeles, California. Taylor holds a white fur stole under her arm. Wilding smokes a cigarette. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

 

2. Natalie Wood with Warren Beatty at the Academy Awards in 1962 at the at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Wood was nominated for Best Actress for “Splendor in the Grass” but lost to Sophia Loren (Two Women).

 

UNITED STATES - APRIL 09: April 9, 1962, California, Santa Monica, Warren Beatty with Natalie Wood Attending the Academy Awards at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

 

3. Susan Hayward took her sons, Gregory and Tim, to the Academy Awards in 1956. Hayward was nominated for Best Actress for I’ll Cry Tomorrow but lost to Anna Magnani (The Rose Tattoo). She also presented the awards for Costume Design.

 

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 21, 1956: Actress Susan Hayward with sons Gregory and Tim attends the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Photo: Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

 

4. Donna Reed at the Academy Awards in 1964, holding her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in From Here To Eternity.

 

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Photo: by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

 

5. Audrey Hepburn, in a Givenchy gown, at the Academy Awards in 1954. She won the award for Best Actress for Roman Holiday at the ceremony.

 

26TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS -- Pictured: Actress Audrey Hepburn, wearing a Givenchy gown, at the 26th Annual Academy Awards at the NBC Century Theatre in New York City, on March 25, 1954 (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Photo: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

 

6. Marlon Brando and Grace Kelly pose with their Best Actor (On the Waterfront) and Best Actress (The Country Girl) Oscars at the Academy Awards in 1955. Bette Davis, left, presented the Best Actor Oscar to Brando.

NEW YORK - MARCH 30: Actress and presenter for the best actor award at the 27th Academy Awards Bette Davis poses for a portrait with best actor winner for his performance in the movie "On The Waterfront" Marlon Brando, and best actress winner for her performance in "The Country Girl" backstage at the Academy Awards which were held on March 30, 1955 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

 

7. Grace Kelly at the Oscars the following year, 1956, with MGM publicist Morgan Hudgins. She wasn’t nominated this year, but presented the award for Best Actor to winner Ernest Borgnine (Marty).

 

American actress Grace Kelly (1929 - 1982) with MGM publicist Morgan Hudgins, at the RKO Pantages Theatre for the 28th Annual Academy Awards, Hollywood, California, 21st March 1956. (Photo by Jack Albin/Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Photo: Jack Albin/Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images

 

8. Joan Collins and a guest at the Academy Awards in 1956.

 

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 21,1956: Joan Collins with a guest at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
MARCH 21,1956: Joan Collins at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Photo: Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

 

9. Diahann Carroll and Sidney Poitier at the Academy Awards in 1964. Poitier won the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies of the Field, making him the first Black actor to win that award and second Black actor overall, after Hattie McDaniel, to win an Oscar.

 

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Photo: Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

 

10. Married actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward at the Academy Awards in 1964. Newman was nominated for Best Actor for Hud but lost to Poitier.

Married American actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward pose together wearing formal evening wear while attending the Academy Awards, California, circa 1964. (Photo by Bruce Bailey/Getty Images)
Photo: Bruce Bailey/Getty Images

 

A version of this story was originally published on Feb. 16, 2018