Updated for 2016! Every Oscar Dress Worn by the Best Actress Winner

Posted by Cherie
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Brie Larson at the 2016 Oscars


A couple years ago an infographic of every look sported by best actress winners went viral. The illustrations were done by the U.K.-based Marketing agency, Mediarun. We were so inspired by this visual that we decided to dig up the original photos for each dress as well as the back story behind these winning looks. The origins of some of the really early dresses are still unknown (they were most likely custom made by studio wardrobe departments or seamstresses employed by the actresses), but we did manage to solve some of the "anonymous" captions on the chart! (You can read the original post here). Every year we will update the winner and reprint this for an ongoing record.

This year the winner was the talented Brie Larson for her moving role in "Room". She wore a flowing cobalt blue gown by Gucci. Congratulations Brie!



Photo from mediarundigital


Janet Gaynor wore an off-the-rack casual dress with a Peter Pan collar to her the very first Oscars where she won for her portrayal as Diane in 7th Heaven. Some accounts speculate that she may have gotten the dress from a children’s clothing store as she stood 5ft tall and weighed 100 pounds.


It's not anonymous anymore - we solved it! Marie Pickford wore a Parisian couture gown to the Oscars when she received an Oscar for her role in Coquette, her first talking film. The designer remains unknown but the Canadian born American Sweetheart made an impression in her jeweled and bow embellished evening dress.


Marie Dressler won for her role as the tough proprietress of a waterfront hotel in Min and Bill. She wore a black lace dress. While the origin of this dress is unknown the costume designer behind Min and Bill was Rene Hubert so this perhaps was by them.


Helen Hays wore a black satin dress with white gloves when she won for her role in The Sin of Madelon Claudet. While the designer behind her Oscar dress is unknown, Gilbert Adrian was the costume designer behind her looks in The Sin of Madelon Claudet and it could be his work.


Anonymous no more! Bette Davis wears a blue and white floral dress designed by Orry-Kelly for her role in Dangerous. It is said that she was thumbing her nose at Warner Brother’s by dressing like the hired help, as this is what she felt like while under contract with the production house at the time .


Luise Rainer won for her role in The Great Ziegfeld. There are many conflicting reports but it was said that Rainer was home during the academy awards when word got around that Rainer was in fact winning for her role she was ordered by studio head Louise B. Mayer to race over. She accepted her Oscar in her nightgown. She later said it was the nicest dress she owned. ELLE US reported that this actually occurred in 1938 but other reports conflict. A BBC report says in 1937 Luise Rainer won for her role in The Good Earth and arrived late because she didn’t even know it was happening as told in a 2003 BBC One Documentary the starlet was on her way back from a function with her husband when she called home to her maid for any important messages. She was told reporters had been calling the house nonstop so she dressed quickly and raced over. The designers of both dresses are unknown. The nightgown she wore to the awards was described as high necked and long sleeved. While both the 1937 and 1938 dress match that description, I for one am more inclined to believe that the 1937 dress was the nightgown .


See the notation above. Do you agree with our best guess that her 1937 win was the nightgown escapade?


Bette Davis went glam for her win this time around for her portrayal in Jezebel. The designer of hair black tulle gown with white feathered collar is unknown and was most likely from the costume department of the studio.


Anonymous begone - we got the scoop on this one. Vivien Leigh accepted her Oscar in Irene Gibbons silk dress. Leigh won for her iconic portrayal of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.


It's not anonymous anymore - we solved it! Ginger Rogers accepted her Oscar for Kitty Foyle in an Irene Gibbons demure grey dress adorned with black lace. As per the request of the Academy attendees wore somber understated garments as the country was in the middle of WW II.


Anonymous no more! Joan Fontaine won for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion in an I. Magnin & Co. dress.


Greer Garson won for her role in Mrs. Minidriver. The designer of her dress is unknown but was most likely from the costume studio, or custom made for her.


Anonymous begone - we got the scoop on this one. The war still raged on, which is in part the cause of the conservative, loose fitting ensemble designed by Anita Colby, donned by Jennifer Jones who won for her part in The Song of Bernadette.


It's not anonymous anymore - we solved it! Ingrid Bergman accepted her Oscar for her role in Gaslight in a demure black dress in respect to the war, designed by Howard Greer.


Anonymous no more! Olivia de Havilland wore this sweet pale blue dress designed by Ann Lowe when she accepted her Oscar for her role in To Each His Own.


Anonymous begone - we got the scoop on this one. Loretta Young wore this satin green number with an oversized bow designed by Adrian when she accepted her Oscar for The Farmer’s Daughter. The 35-year-old actress was not expecting to win but reportedly said she dressed for the stage.


Jane Wyman won for her role in Johnny Belinda in which she played a mute. While accepting her Oscar in this understated white dress, she told the crowd “I accept this very gratefully for keeping my mouth shut for once. I think I'll do it again," and then she sat down. Very likely a custom made gown by one of the costume department seamstresses.


It's not anonymous anymore - we solved it! Olivia de Havilland wins her second Oscar in this white gown for The Heiress in Orry-Kelly.


In the very first telecast of the Academy Awards, Shirley Booth won for her work in Come Back Little Sheba. Designer unknown.


Audrey Hepburn won her Oscar for her role as Princess Ann in Roman Holiday in this white floral Hubert de Givenchy gown.


Grace Kelly wins for her role in The Country Girl in this ice blue dress designed by Edith Head.


Anonymous no more! Joanne Woodward accepts her Oscar for her leading role in The Three Faces of Eve while wearing a green gown she sewed herself in her Connecticut barn.


Susan Hayward wins for her role in I Want to Live! The designer of this gorgeous strappy gown is unknown.


Anonymous begone - we got the scoop on this one. Simone Signoret won for her role in Room At The Top in a stunning gown by Jean Dessès.


It's not anonymous anymore - we solved it! Elizabeth Taylor receives her first Oscar for her work in Butterfield 8 in a gown by Christian Dior.


Julie Andrews wins for The Sound of Music in a strappy yellow dress. Designer unknown.


Anonymous no more! Julie Christie accepts her Oscar for her role in Darling wearing a gold piece she sewed herself, according to the LA Times.


Barbara Streisand accepts her Oscar for Funny Girl in a sheer sparkly bell bottomed Arnold Scaasi pantsuit.


Jane Fonda accepts her Oscar for Klute in a timelessly stylish Yves Saint Laurent suit.


Liza Minnelli wins for her leading role in Cabaret wearing a dress silky canary yellow dress designed by Halston.


Anonymous begone - we got the scoop on this one. Louise Fletcher wins for One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest in a Alfred Fiandaca dress. While accepting her Oscar Fletcher took a moment to sign to her deaf parents, “I want to say thank you for teaching me to have a dream. You are seeing my dream come true. Thank you.”


It's not anonymous anymore - we solved it! Faye Dunaway wins for Network in a modern, understated, billowy black design by Geoffrey Beene. At breakfast the next morning Dunaway takes an iconic glamorous photo with her gold statue captured by then boyfriend Terry O’Neill poolside at The Beverly Hills Hotel.


Anonymous no more! Diane Keaton appropriately sports an androgynous blazer and dress shirt by Ruth Morley when she won for Annie Hall. The way Keaton’s character dressed in the film was based off of Keaton’s real life fashion sense. It’s reported the actress wore her own clothes in the iconic film.


Anonymous begone - we got the scoop on this one. Jane Fonda wins her second Oscar for Coming Home in a grey tastefully sequined dress that hangs just right by James Reva.


It's not anonymous anymore - we solved it! Sally Field wears Bob Mackie and wins her first Oscar for her role in Norma Rae.


Anonymous no more! Sissy Spacek wins for Coal Miners Daughter, in a relaxed fashion forward jumpsuit. She would later tell Oprah that the jumpsuit was purchased off the rack.


Anonymous begone - we got the scoop on this one. Meryl Streep earns her second Oscar for her role in Sophie’s Choice while wearing a golden Christian Leigh dress.


Shirley Maclaine wins for her role in Terms of Endearment in a sparkly champagne dress, designer unknown.


Sally Field wins wearing a striking Holly Harp dress for her portrayal in Places in the Heart.


Geraldine Paige wears Gail Cooper-Hecht when she wins for The Trip to Bountiful.


Marlee Matlin wears Theoni V. Aldredge and wins for Children of a Lesser God.


Cher sports Bob Mackie and wins for her leading role in Moonstruck.


Jodie Foster accepts her Oscar for The Accused in an off the rack dress.


Jessica Tandy wins for Driving Miss Daisy while wearing Armani.


It's not anonymous anymore - we solved it! Kathy Bates earns an Oscar for her chilling performance in Misery wearing Jeff Billings.


Jodi Foster wins for her portrayal of Clarice in Silence of the Lambs in a Giorgio Armani sequined jumpsuit and structured blazer.


Emma Thompson wears Caroline Charles and wins for her leading role in Howards End.


Holly Hunter wears Vera Wang and wins for her role in The Piano.


Jessica Lange wins an Oscar for her work in Blue Sky, wearing Calvin Klein.


Susan Sarandon dons a fairy-tale-like yellow ball gown by Dolce and Gabbana and wins for Dead Man Walking.


Frances McDormand wins for her role in Fargo wearing Richard Tyler.


Helen Hunt wearing Tom Ford for Gucci is awarded for her performance in As Good as it Gets.


Gwyneth Paltrow wears a bubblegum pink Ralph Lauren ball gown and wins for Shakespeare in Love.


Hilary Swank goes ultra feminine glam in Randolph Duke, winning for her role in Boys Don’t Cry.


Julia Roberts wins for Erin Brockovich while wearing vintage Valentino.


Halle Berry wears stunning Elie Saab dress and wins for Monster’s Ball.


Nicole Kidman wears Jean Paul Gaultier and wins for The Hours.


Charlize Theron wins for Monster and looks the polar opposite in this slinky Gucci dress.


Hilary Swank in Guy Laroche wins for Million Dollar Baby.


Reese Witherspoon in gorgeous vintage Christian Dior wins for Walk the Line.


Helen Mirren wins for The Queen in Christian Lacroix.


Marion Cotillard stuns in Jean Paul Gaultier when she receives an Oscar for La Vie en Rose.


Kate Winslet wears Yves Saint Laurent by Stefano Pilati and wins for The Reader.


Sandra Bullock dons Marchesa and wins for her role in The Blind Side.


Natalie Portman wears Rodarte and accepts the Oscar for her leading role in Black Swan. The designers were reportedly behind some of the beautiful costumes of the psychological thriller and there was controversy over whether or not they should have received a costume credit in the film after they were deemed ineligible for an Oscar nomination.


Meryl Streep dazzles in another gold Oscar gown, this time by Lanvin. Streep wins for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.


Jennifer Lawrence glows in a Christian Dior gown, which she charmingly trips over on her way to accept her award for her role Silver Linings Playbook.


At the 2014 Oscars, Cate Blanchett dazzles in Armani Prive, winning for her role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.


At the 2015 Oscars, Julianne Moore wears a Chanel dress that took 927 hours to make and designed especially by Karl Lagerfeld, winning for her role in 'Still Alice'.


At this year's Oscars, Brie Larson wears a Gucci gown, winning for her role in "Room".

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