Practical shmactical. Here’s the A-listers who took the ‘go big or go home’ approach to red carpet dressing.
If you wore some of these dresses in real life you’d probably get arrested. But in the red carpet parallel universe, ‘naked’ dresses have become pretty much the norm. Here are some of the boldest.
Gabrielle Union at the Oscars after-party
Maybe Gabrielle couldn’t decide whether to pitch up to the Oscars after-party in a long black dress or a bandeau bikini. And why decide when clearly you can wear both at once?
Khloe Kardashian and Kourtney Kardashian at a fundraiser in New York
The Kardashian’s are, of course, past masters at both a) strategic red carpet body reveals and b) theming their wardrobes. In this case they’ve both taken an ‘ordinary’ red carpet dress and lopped a big old portion out if it – in Khloe’s case a ‘dress’ that tapers in around the legs and waist, in Kourtney’s one that appears to have been snipped out over the thighs. See how the two dresses also subtly mirror each other in style? These ladies are Kardashians so that’s clearly not an accident – e.g point b).
Chrissy Teigen at the AMAs
In general we just really like what Chrissy Teigen is about (see her best moments on Twitter for more details). Very few women could pull a dress like this off, but even fewer – when they realise they’re accidentally flashing the ranks of cameras – would deliver a comedy ‘whoopsy!’ and side-step their way across the step-and-repeat like a cat burglar.
Kendall Jenner at the 2016 Met Gala
It’s hard to know where this Versace dress ends and Kendall begins, but we love the colour and all that white spaghetti junction detailing. The sort of dress about 0.000001% of the population could pull off.
Madonna at the 2016 Met Gala
This is obviously not the first time we’ve seen more of Madonna than we bargained for, but it is possibly the first time we’ve seen her in an outfit inspired by the medical ‘kinesiology tape’ she uses to support her tired muscles on tour (we haven’t made that up by the way, that was the inspiration).
Rita Ora at the 2016 Met Gala
Rita swept into the Met Ball looking like a beautiful metallic bird of paradise. Back in a more demure time ‘daring’ red carpet dresses would sweep low across the back or torso – now they’re very cut to show off the thighs too, which must make moving around without flashing anyone a carefully thought out business.
Karlie Kloss at the 2016 Met Gala
There are dresses you can’t really have a big dinner in. Then there are dresses you can’t really have any dinner in.
Ciara at the 2016 Grammys
Ciara’s Alexandre Vauthier gown appears to have been cut to ribbons. Luckily, her skin and body is great so she didn’t even need to run to a haberdashers before stepping out onto the red carpet at this year’s Grammys. Though that ‘step forward’ pose she’s doing appears to be extremely necessary as well as flattering.
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Diane Kruger at the Oscars after-party
This writer shudders to think what sort of side-view she would present if she was asked to slip into this see-through Reem Acra number. But then this writer is not Diane Kruger.
Rita Ora at the Atelier Versace show
It’s tiny. It’s bright orange. It has a tangle of tenuously knotted ropes holding it all together. Few women posess the minerals to step out in something like this. But then of course this is not Rita’s first rodeo…
At the VF Oscars party Rita braved the world’s cameras in this sheer Donna Karan affair. Surely no elaborate M&S multiway could have delivered an underwear solution to this one. Her answer? Lose the undies altogether.
Beyonce at the Met Gala
This success of this look is 5% sheer fabric, 5% strategically placed embellishments and 90% double-sided tape and hope. Being Beyonce, she’s gone for death or glory and worked this one from every possible angle.
Rihanna at the CFDA Awards
The #FreeTheNipple campaigner presents a pretty solid case here. We love the glittery 1920s headgear.
Irina Shayk at the Oscars after-party
This almost-doesn’t-qualify-as-a-dress dress (which appears to come with built in tights? How does she pee?) is very similar to the one Rita Ora wore to the same party on the same night. We like to imagine they saw each other, LOLed heartily and took a joint picture.
Jennifer Lopez at the Billboard Music Awards
J-Lo is queen of the sheer, barely there dress. There was also this Met Gala number:
How is this woman 47?
Miley Cyrus at the amFAR Inspiration Gala
Below the hips it’s actually pretty demure. Up top it’s a hard-working network of glittery bands. All credit to Miley for managing to make this look quite elegant.
Kylie Jenner at the AMAs
In 2015 the thigh split took on higher and higher dimensions, as Kylie is demo-ing with this Bryan Hearns chainmail number.
Kendall Jenner at the VMAs
And speaking of thigh splits, Kylie’s sister Kendall went for one of the highest on record in this Fausto Puglisi frock. Again, we have a lot of questions about underwear/dress strategics here.
Jaimie Alexander at the Thor premiere
The actress braved a near-vertical sheer panel for the Thor premiere. Double-sided tape (we presume) was applied liberally.
Iggy Azalea at the MTV Video Music Awards
We feel like this dress did originally have an underslip, but Iggy thought ‘to hell with that’.
Maggie Q at the Divergent premiere
You need a killer bod to pull this off. Luckily Maggie Q has one. This reminds us of a certain Liz Hurley safety pin dress of red carpet folk legend…
Gwyneth Paltrow at the Iron Man 3 premiere
When asked about wearing this side-baring Antonio Berardi dress on the red carpet, Gwyneth Paltrow quipped ‘let’s just say everyone went scrambling for a razor [before she wore it] I work a ’70s vibe . . . You know what I mean?’ We’re with you, Gwyneth.
Now for a few from the archive…
Liz Hurley at the Four Weddings premiere
All cutaway dresses owe their allegiance to Liz’s safety pin dress. The Versace LBD she wore to the Four Weddings premiere in 1994 made her a household name overnight.
Rose McGowan at the VMAs
McGowan turned up wearing this to the 1998 VMAs with her then-boyfriend Marilyn Manson, making all naked dresses that have gone before and after look tame.
Jennifer Lopez at the Grammys
The hip-grazing Verace dress JLo wore to the 2001 Grammys set a new red carpet precedent. Fun fact: it’s also the reason why Google images exists.