6 Nicole Kidman, 1997
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be too much controversial about Nicole Kidman’s 1997 Christian Dior gown, a satin chartreuse-coloured couture creation by John Galliano, who had recently been appointed creative director for the design house. But it marked a landmark moment for the Oscars red carpet. “The dress was magnificent, but it was a polarising colour, and unfortunately for Nicole Kidman, this was the time where, thanks to Joan Rivers, the red-carpet critic was really rising,” says Mulhearn. Rivers, who had hosted E!’s pre-awards show since the mid-90s, called it “the ugliest dress I’ve ever seen”.
She didn’t stop there. “She literally put her finger down at her throat on TV, which was so outrageous in itself, but what it also did was terrify all the actresses on the red carpet, making them start to question their own taste and doubt their choices.”
No-one wanted to be Rivers’ next target, so stars increasingly started to rely on personal stylists to dress them. “That’s really when the commercialisation of the red carpet came to the fore,” says Mulhearn. “Then, except for a few exceptions, it turned into the boring parade of pretty dresses that we saw from 2002 to 2010.”
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