Is it Oscar season already? Let’s have a look then! Here’s a little history on the Academy Awards and the red carpet glamour that came with it.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, commonly known as the Academy, was set up as an honorary organisation and governing body by MGM executive Louise B. Mayer. The Academy Award was later introduced as a way to merit achievement in the film industry. The first ceremony was held on May 16th 1929 at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood. Tickets were only $5 and the ceremony was held in front of an audience of around three hundred. The winners were announced three months in advance but this changed in 1930’s, creating the suspense filled spectacle that we enjoy today. Past hosts have included megastars Fred Astaire, James Stewart and even Frank Sinatra. The categories have been changing over history too with past categories including ‘Best Dance Direction’ and ‘Best Title Writing’ (in an age before Comic Sans, no doubt).
The 1920’s and 1930’s fashion was lead by Hollywood. The world would see the latest fashions in the movie theatres worn by the latest and greatest stars of the ages. Icons like Louise Brooks, with her helmet like bob and pale freckled skin, pioneered the flapper movement. 1920’s glamour epitomised the boyish figure with undergarments designed to flatten the breasts and dresses to obscure the hips with straight shapes and dropped waists. As the Oscars were born, depression was beginning; a time of austerity in which mending was more vogue than the spending of the 1920’s. The silhouette changed, with squared shoulders and fitted torsos. The waists were brought up to accentuate womanly curves again with the help of fuller skirts. Times were changing and this was reflected on the red carpet with the gowns worn by the actresses attending.
The most endearing and unconventional winner of the 1930’s was undoubtedly Luise Rainer, nominated for her role in The Great Ziegfeld. She was ordered to attend by Louis B. Mayer, so with nothing to wear, she wore her nightdress. The actress was later quoted saying ‘It was the nicest dress, I ever owned’. Luckily it was a nice nightdress, she looked rather nice. It served her well as the following year she won another Oscar for The Good Earth in which; she portrayed a Chinese peasant wife.
Poster for The Great Ziegfeld, starring Luise Rainer
It was only in the 1950’s that the Oscars really became a catwalk. Audrey Hepburn stunned on the red carpet in a gorgeous full skirted floral dress, with a delicate sheer chest in 1954. While in 1955 Grace Kelly stunned in blue satin. The material alone cost $4000; the dress was a symbol of the monetary boom of the 1950’s. Another iconic dress was worn by Barbara Streisand in 1969 when she collected her award for Funny Girl. A glittering black gown with a white Peter Pan collar and black bow, complimented the actress’ flattering bob.
Grace Kelly in satin.
Actresses continued to wow on the red carpet throughout the ages from stunning moments like Amy Adams collecting her Oscar for Best Actress in The Fighter (2010), or when Halle Berry became the first African-American to win the Academy Award for Best Actress. Earlier in Berry's career she portrayed Dorothy Dandridge, the first African-American to be nominated for Best Actress; they were both born in the same hospital too!
Halle Berry making her passionate Oscar acceptance speech. Copyright© A.M.P.A.S.
I’m looking forward to ogling the red carpet for the Oscars Ceremony! Be sure to tune in on the 24th February and root for your favourite. Come on Anne Hathaway!
By Natasha Dujon