When I was a teenager, every year I anxiously waited for InStyle‘s annual list of the best dresses of the year. I often agreed and more often disagreed, and thought of all the looks they missed. Now it’s cool to be able to make my own annual list. In 2015, we saw many impressive and memorable looks and, as always, some unfortunate ones (looking at you Heidi Klume). But let’s focus on the positive. Like Rihanna. And Amal Clooney. And Jane Fonda, who had many incredible moments on the red carpet this year, and showed time and time again how she continues to defy any logic to do with aging.
Jane Fonda in Valentino, Youth Premiere (November)
Fonda KILLED IT in Valentino at the premiere of her new movie in November. She’s totally incredible. Loved the long sleeves and floral detail. Feminine and chic. Quite a few stars wore similar Valentino dresses this year but no one came close to how unbelievable Fonda looked. AND SHE’S 78! Also, how amazing was that beaded headpiece?! Everything about this look was perfection.
Jane Fonda in Yves Saint Laurent Couture, TIFF (September)
Whenever Jane Fonda showed up on a red carpet this year, she pretty much always made my best dressed list. How can she not? I always say that she’s single handedly changed the way we think of age. And because she’s Hollywood royalty, she was the first star to wear a gown from the recently announced return of Yves Saint Laurent Couture. This gold lace long-sleeve dress was glamourous, luxurious and perfect for a living legend.
Lady Gaga in Brandon Maxwell, Emmys (September)
This year Lady Gaga proved she can do more than wild attention-getting eccentric looks on the red carpet. This paired down dress, designed by her stylist Brandon Maxwell, looked incredible and fresh on the pop star. The one-shouldered gown featured a side paneling detail and her simple accessories and side-swept blonde hair were the right choice for such an elegant look.
Kerry Washington in Marc Jacobs, Emmys (September)
This silver mesh gown was literally fresh off the runway at NYFW when Washington wore it to the Emmys in September. It was a sexy and cool dress with impeccable detail – check out how the silver turns into gold at the hemline. Washington almost always nails it on the red carpet and this glittery dress was extra special.
Julianne Moore in Armani Privé, Cannes (May)
This dress couldn’t be more ‘couture’ if it tried. It was well suited for the lavish excessiveness of Cannes. The feathers combined with embellished bottom half worked surprisingly well together. And don’t get me started on those emerald Chopard earrings – they’re killer. The whole look had a 80s Yves Saint Laurent couture vibe.
Naomi Watts is Elie Saab Couture, Cannes (May)
Another dress, similar to Moore’s Armani Privé, that was perfect for Cannes. It was luxurious and beautifully constructed. Loved the idea of the short sleeves and the pockets – great details on such an opulent dress. The materials of both the top half and the skirt were outstanding. And the Elizabeth Taylor-style diamond necklace was a nice touch. Super fancy.
Lupita Nyong’o in Gucci at Cannes, Cannes (May)
Nyong’o was definitely one of the major highlights on the red carpet this year at Cannes. One of the best red carpet moments of the year was the way she gracefully moved in the dress. The flower crystal detail around the neckline and along the waist was especially pretty.
Sienna Miller in Sonia Rykiel at Cannes, Cannes (May)
I LOVED everything about this look – hands down one of the best dresses Miller’s ever worn. The cape, the crystal neck piece, the sheer fabric and the stars made for an unforgettable look. Only someone as stylish as Miller could rock Sonia Rykiel so well. Her hair was also perfection. A spectacular and dramatic look.
Rihanna in Guo Pei, Mat Gala (May)
Hands down the biggest ‘wow’ moment on the red carpet this year. Only Rihanna could show up in something this elaborate and make it work. She has this amazing ability to still impress without seeming like she’s trying too hard. Out of all the stars who attended that night, she was the only major star that actually wore Chinese couture. The dress took 20 months to construct and weighed 55 pounds. Le.Gen.Dary.
Beyoncé in Givenchy, Met Gala (May)
These naked-style dresses were everywhere this year but Beyoncé’s sheer Givenchy gown was the best of the bunch. The detail, colour and beading were outstanding and her hair looked cool too. Beyoncé came to play that night. And she totally knew how incredible she looked. Because I’m pretty sure she lives by the saying “anything you can do, I can do better.”
Amal Clooney in Maison Margiela Haute Couture, Met Gala (May)
Clooney proved to be a major player in the fashion world this year and this dress in particular was a great example – the bodice part was like a piece of art and the cascading ruffles were expertly done. It was museum quality.
Rosamund Pike in Givenchy Haute Couture, Oscars (February)
Red dresses can be hard on the red carpet but like Amal Clooney’s dress above, this one was killer. It was a powerful dress and one that exuded confidence. The cut was beautifully done and super flattering. Also loved the simple tied-back hair because it was all about the dress.
Emma Stone in Elie Saab, Oscars (February)
Many fashion lovers were anxious to see what Stone was going to wear to the Oscars this year and she didn’t disappoint with this chartreuse dress. It was a brave choice – beautiful and different, and the beading detail was exquisite. I bet the colour was even better in person. Also loved the strong dark red/orange lips and the matching diamond and gold bracelets.
Lady Gaga in custom Azzedine Alaia, Oscars (February)
Lady Gaga was definitely one of the major highlights at the Oscars this year. Alaia is a legendary designer with a loyal following and this was apparently the first time he’d ever done a custom gown which means a lot. It was like modern art. And I thought the red gloves were cool and added some edginess that she does well.
Rihanna in Giambattista Valli, Grammys (February)
Leave it to Rihanna to wear one of the most polarizing dresses of the year. It was straight off the runway from the couture show in Paris and I loved it. It was cheeky and fun and it worked because it’s Rihanna. She has an irreverent attitude when it comes to fashion. And it’s stars like her that make watching red carpets so much fun.
Lupita Nyong’o in Elie Saab, SAG Awards (January)
Loved this modern and slightly edgy look. Nyong’o gives fashion followers exactly what they want – something to talk about. And she always wears her red carpet looks confidently. Later that night she changed into a similar version of the same dress but one better suited for a party. Another great look on the talented and lovely star.
Emma Stone in Lanvin, Golden Globes (January)
This was young, fresh and interesting. It also stood out from all the other dresses that night. Stone looked comfortable, relaxed and chic. It makes me want to hang out with her.
Dakota Johnson in Chanel Haute Couture, Golden Globes (January)
A relative newcomer to the red carpet this year, this was the best dress we saw on Johnson in 2015. The material was almost magical and the cut was lovely. It was youthful and light. And surprisingly soft for a dress with so much sparkle. I liked how she kept everything else simple too. The dress also came with an amazing matching blazer which she wore later in the night. I bet Cate Blanchett totally wished she got a hold of this dress first.
Award season begins again soon in 2016. Stay tuned for many more red carpet recaps. Happy New Year! And thanks for reading!