The main attraction at the Academy Awards is the distribution of statuettes, when Hollywood declares which of its products and people are most deserving of applause — or, at least, that’s supposed to be the main attraction. At Sunday night’s ceremony, the red-carpet clothing is sure to give the main event a run for its money.
And that’s nothing new. Though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences first gave out its awards at a low-key event, it didn’t take long for the honorees and the audience to realize that the Oscars would be a fine occasion to break out the finery.
In honor of that history, here’s a look back at some standout midcentury looks from Oscars ceremonies of the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. From Bette Davis’ dramatic 1939 feathers and Elizabeth Taylor’s Gone With the Wind-esque 1949 gown to Janet Leigh’s summoning of The Jetsons in 1960 and Barbra Streisand’s mod 1968 look, these photos capture not only the faces of some of the biggest stars of the 20th century but also the evolution of fashion over this period of time.
And, though the styles may change, they’ve all got that something that has helped the movies and fashion stay so closely linked, from the earliest days of Hollywood all the way through this weekend. These people, it’s impossible to deny, ought to be in pictures.