Ryan Gosling wasn't the only star to reference Old Hollywood

All the nods to classic cinema you might've missed at this year's Oscars

Ryan Gosling Marilyn Monroe
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Rumour has it that Hollywood has no respect for history. Apparently, that’s why Los Angeles is always tearing down landmarks and starting anew. 

LA Weekly even has a dedicated page honouring fallen monuments like the Hollywood Hotel—which once hosted the likes of Norma Shearer and Rudolph Valentino—the decadently debaucherous Garden of Allah, and Pickfair; the Beverly Hills wonderland of silent screen stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, which was reportedly demolished because the owner grew tired of the ghost of one of Fairbanks’ scorned lovers prowling the rambling Tudor-style mansion.

There’s one exception to the city’s mantra of endlessly rebranding, rebuilding, and reinventing: cinema, and when it comes to the Oscars, the industry gets a little sentimental. Paying homage to bygone stars isn’t the reserve of the In Memorium segment; here, we examine the subtle nods to Classic Era Hollywood you might’ve missed at last night’s 96th Academy Awards

Ryan Gosling parodies Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Ryan Gosling parodies Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

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You'd have thought he'd be sick of it by now, but it seems that pink (and diamonds) are Ryan Gosling's best friend. 

In what was arguably the best part of the 96th Academy Awards, Ryan Gosling reprised his role of Ken (at this point, they are basically one and the same) to parody Marilyn Monroe's saccharine song in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Wearing a custom Gucci suit in Pepto-Bismol pink studded with glittering gems, Gosling swaggered (and yes, there was a little sashaying, too) down the magenta steps in reference to one of Old Hollywood's crowning moments, complete with Busby Berkeley-esque choreography. Earlier in the evening, Gosling nodded to the razzmatazz that was to come in another custom Gucci suit dusted with bejewelled piping. 

Marilyn might have been right when she whispered, "And we all lose our charms in the end," but Ryan Gosling will always be more than Kenough. 

Margot Robbie has her own moment

Margot Robbie Oscars

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Ryan Gosling wasn’t the only star to reference Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Our very own Barbie echoed Jane Russell’s sinuous squid-ink sequined gown and even got herself a Marilyn to match her Jane. Now that is dedication to theme.

Later, at the Vanity Fair after-party, Margot changed into a gilded Mugler corset, which I couldn’t help but think (read: fantasise) was another nod to Howard Hawkes’ frothy film for all us Classic Hollywood nerds, we see you, Margot!

Pearls of wisdom

Anya Taylor-Joy Oscars

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Have I gone down a Jane Russell rabbit hole that is skewering my ability to accurately identify trends? Maybe, but tell me you don’t see the similarity.

Pearls have long been a staple of cinema; Grace Kelly famously said, “I favour pearls on screen and in my private life.” Anya Taylor-Joy’s lavishly embellished cap and trompe l’oeil teardrop earrings from emerging label Miss Sohee exuded Old Hollywood allure.

Frou-frou fancies

Hollywood actors in pink

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Pink dresses are an Oscars tradition—need I remind you of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Ralph Lauren bubblegum ball gown in 1999? Not to mention Zoe Kravitz’s cotton-candy strapless dress, Viola Davis’ magenta Michael Kors gown (and matching clutch), or Kate Winslet in Vivienne Westwood circa 1996. 

Ariana Grande took a decidedly different and frothier approach. Going for full-on frou-frou (if you can’t do it at the Oscars, when can you?) in custom Giambattista Valli. Very Ginger Rogers in Swing Time, 1936. 

Imitation is the highest form of flattery

Sydney Sweeney and Angelina Jolie

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Can 2004 be classed as classic Hollywood? With the trend cycle spinning at a dizzying pace, in fashion years, one year can equate to a decade. This dress was also voted the world's official favourite Oscars dress ever.

Angelina Jolie's 2004 champagne satin Marc Bouwer dress made a red carpet reappearance on Sydney Sweeney, who also had an air of Michelle Pfeifer in Scarface. Scarface is celebrating its 40th anniversary (Pfeifer was due to present the Best Picture Award with Al Pacino but never showed - pity, as she might've saved his presenting snafu).

Veronica Lake waves

Kirsten Dunst, Veronica Lake

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“Veronica Lake had the most famous hairdo of the 1940s,” writes film historian Karina Longworth of the wildly popular podcast You Must Remember This

So it’s little surprise that the Sullivan’s Travels actress is regularly referenced on the red carpet. Even this humble writer gave Veronica Lake waves a punt, but I think we can all agree that it was Kirsten Dunst who aced the assignment.

Hourglass silhouettes

Corset dresses, red carpet

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There’s been a noticeable rise in corsetry on the red carpet, and at the awards season’s closing party, stars pulled out all the stops and poured themselves into figure-cinching gowns.

Emma Stone opted for a mint silk cloqué jacquard column gown with a boned bustier and crinoline-style peplum, which played to her character, Bella Baxter.

Refreshingly, unlike in the era of classic cinema, today, the trend is being adopted by a range of beautiful body types. Hollywood is far from perfect when it comes to projecting body ideals, but stars like the sublime Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Danielle Brooks prove that you don’t need a super-snatched shape to take on any trend.

Honourable mentions


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Oscars red carpet

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Mischa Anouk Smith
News and Features Editor

Mischa Anouk Smith is the News and Features Editor of Marie Claire UK.

From personal essays to purpose-driven stories, reported studies, and interviews with celebrities like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and designers including Dries Van Noten, Mischa has been featured in publications such as Refinery29, Stylist and Dazed. Her work explores what it means to be a woman today and sits at the intersection of culture and style, though, in the spirit of eclecticism, she has also written about NFTs, mental health and the rise of AI bands.