There was something very familiar about the outfits on the red carpet at Sunday’s 66th Grammy Awards.
From Miley Cyrus’s glittery bodysuit to Olivia Rodrigo’s pearl-encrusted Versace gown, there was a sense we had seen it all before. And we had.
Cyrus chose a 2002 sequinned number by Bob Mackie, the Hollywood designer who created Cher’s most outrageous stage costumes. Rodrigo appeared in a Versace bodycon dress, last worn by Linda Evangelista, strutting down the catwalk for the designer’s 1995 spring/summer collection.
Both women were showcasing a trend that has been brewing for some time: the ‘vintage red carpet moment’. Stars wearing box-fresh, hot-off-the-catwalk gowns is definitely old hat.
Vintage has never been more modern. Of course, the vogue for wearing vintage to awards season has been around for some time. Demi Moore was one of the first to adopt it, back in 1992 when she wore a 1930s lilac dress to the Oscars.
Stars such as Winona Ryder and Kate Moss followed suit, choosing to wear vintage gowns — almost all from LA vintage specialist Lily et Cie — to some of the world’s most exclusive award ceremonies throughout the 1990s.
But with sustainability now on everyone’s wish list, it’s over the past few years that vintage on the red carpet has truly taken off — and younger stars are leading the charge.
Zendaya, for example, has repeatedly worn vintage pieces since she became a red carpet favourite, sporting a Valentino black-and-white striped dress for the premiere of the second series of TV show Euphoria that was previously seen on Evangelista in the 1990s.
Actress and singer Rodrigo, who has firmly established herself as Gen Z’s celebrity pin-up of the moment, has worn vintage to almost every major event over the past three years.
She bowled up to The White House in a bubble-gum pink Chanel suit in 2021, and last year chose a Todd Oldham two-piece — worn by supermodel Amber Valletta for Oldham’s 1995 spring/summer collection — for the launch of her latest album, Guts.
But choosing an outfit with a high-profile past is a risky business. A frock previously worn by someone equally or more famous will guarantee you column inches, but you would have to be brave to step out in a dress that once graced Cindy Crawford’s supermodel physique.
Surely you must ask yourself if you could ever look as good? Margot Robbie just about got away with it when she wore a Crawford cast-off from Chanel’s 1993 haute couture show at last year’s Met Gala.
Singer Dua Lipa, however, fell short when she wore a Karl Lagerfeld wedding dress to the same event — the designer had made it for his muse Claudia Schiffer for a Chanel catwalk show in 1992.
And at last year’s British Fashion Awards, Anne Hathaway looked surprisingly straitlaced in a fringed, Valentino gown worn by supermodel Christy Turlington at the brand’s 1993 spring/summer catwalk show. But when you get it right, you can’t beat it for publicity.
The biggest vintage moment belongs to Kim Kardashian, who in 2022 poured herself into the diamanté gown that Marilyn Monroe wore to sing Happy Birthday to John F. Kennedy 60 years earlier (one of Bob Mackie’s).
It created one of the biggest press moments of the year, combining history, glamour, scandal (Kardashian had to lose 16 pounds to fit into the fragile sheath) and sustainability.
It proved a win-win situation for Ms Kardashian — though not perhaps for the $4.8 million dress, which reportedly needed repairs after its outing.
At a time when celebrities are keen to stand for something of substance, wearing vintage seems the perfect, low-effort answer. It signals both individuality and a laudable commitment to sustainability — but, more than anything, it can make a perfect picture.
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