The celebrity red carpet trends that defined 2021

Written by Megan C. Hills

After a year of awkward Zoomed-in awards speeches and tie-dye hoodies, it was a relief to see the stars return to the red carpet. Glamor is back in full force, filling our streams with color, sparkle and flashes of nostalgia.
With highlights like Billie Eilish’s frothy Met Gala ball gown and Lady Gaga’s alien microrobe Valentino, 2021 was the year celebs got to redefine their wardrobe – and many have delivered. Below are some notable trends.

Dopamine dressing

Bright colors, sparkling dresses and playful looks brought joy to celebrity wardrobes this year, as stars gleefully dressed in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. At the Emmys, Michaela Coel was stunned in a yellow highlighter Christopher John Rogers outfit, while Anya Taylor-Joy was pictured of a retro Barbie in a fascinating hot pink dress at the Venice Film Festival. Others channeled their inner disco ball: Dakota Johnson’s fringed Gucci creation stood out at the Venice Film Festival, and most recently, Olivia Rodrigo’s periwinkle dress at the American Music Awards sparkled as she stood out. slipped under her feathered hem.

Archive mode

Cardi B attends the “Thierry Mugler: Couturissime” photocall as part of Paris Fashion Week at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs on September 28, 2021 in Paris, France. Credit: Richard Bord / WireImage / Getty Images

Fashion history became this year’s biggest red carpet flex, as stylists and celebrities searched for rare archival pieces from decades past. Growing interest in upcycling and vintage undoubtedly played a major role in the trend, which included Rodrigo donning a 2001 Versace ruched dress at the MTV VMA Awards and archival queen Bella Hadid seen in vintage Gucci, Stella McCartney. for Chloe and more on the street snaps. And who could forget the olive green Jean Paul Gaultier dress worn by Kylie Jenner?

Dare to get naked

Zoë Kravitz attends the 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City.

Zoë Kravitz attends the 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. Credit: Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Post-lockdown red carpets were sexier than ever as some pandemic restrictions relaxed and celebrities returned to the public eye. See-through dresses, such as Zoe Kravitz’s Saint Laurent Met Gala look and Megan Fox’s Thierry Mugler dress (paired with a nude thong) at the MTV VMAs, have been seen at many major events, while other celebrities like Zendaya, Kendall Jenner and Halle Bailey went for cuckoo cutouts.

Carey Mulligan, Rina Sawayama and Alicia Keys wore sophisticated bellyless sets throughout the year, while Lil Nas X, Kim Kardashian and Hailey Bieber were among those who covered themselves in bodycon jumpsuits that left little in the way. imagination.

Fluid men’s clothing

Troye Sivan attends the 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City.

Troye Sivan attends the 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. Credit: Theo Wargo / Getty Images

With Gen Z defying gender binaries on TikTok and talk of fluidity reverberating through the fashion industry, celebrities didn’t hesitate to push the boundaries. With LGBTQ + stars in the lead – including Billy Porter in a pale pink suit and designer Harris Reed launching their first flowy fashion collection – others followed suit: Troye Sivan wore a minimal dress to the Met Gala and Kid Cudi wore a Floral dress inspired by Kurt Cobain for his Saturday Night Live performance, followed by a wedding dress at the CFDA Awards.

Some have taken more subtle approaches, most notably Bowen Yang, with his Syro wedge heels coming out of the hem of a pointy Emmy suit. Nail polish has also been widely adopted by stars such as Lil Yachty and Tyler the Creator, and Styles and Machine Gun Kelly have even launched their own nail polishes.

Fashion as an art of clothing

Bella Hadid poses as she arrives for the film screening "Tre Piani" (Three floors) at the 74th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France on July 11, 2021.

Bella Hadid poses as she arrives for the screening of the film “Tre Piani” (Three Floors) at the 74th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, July 11, 2021. Credit: Valery Hache / AFP / Getty Images

The sight of Bella Hadid at the Cannes Film Festival this summer, wearing a Schiaparelli brass necklace designed to resemble a pair of lungs, stopped the internet in its tracks. This surreal artistic approach to fashion continued throughout the second half of the year.
Di Petsa’s wet look dresses, created by self-proclaimed interdisciplinary artist Dimetra Petsa and meticulously layered with tulle, have transformed stars such as sisters Hadid, SZA, Chloe Bailey and Megan Thee Stallion into water nymphs who seemed just emerging from the sea. Zendaya opted for a similar style, crafted in nude leather by Balmain, for the Venice premiere of “Dune.” Her look was counterbalanced by that of her co-star Timothée Chalamet, who was dressed in a glittering Haider Ackermann outfit that appeared to have been taken out of the night sky. Of course, who could forget Kim Kardashian’s dramatic look at the Met Gala – a faceless custom Balenciaga outfit that sparked questions about the celebrity’s nature while generating endless memes on Twitter.

Celebrity Returns

Gemma Chan paid tribute to Anna May Wong at the Met Gala.  Wong is considered the first Chinese-American Hollywood star.

Gemma Chan paid tribute to Anna May Wong at the Met Gala. Wong is considered the first Chinese-American Hollywood star. Credit: Getty Images

While many stars have gone all out with their post-containment wardrobes, others have stepped back to pause and pay tribute to those who led the way before them. Feedback on specific celebrity and model outfits was seen throughout the year.

At the Met Gala, for example, Gemma Chan paid homage to Chinese-American movie star Anna May Wong in a minidress adorned with Prabal Gurung dragons and curled braids, and Jaeger’s YouTuber Nikkie stepped out in a floral dress. with a ribbon that says “Pay it no spirit” pinned to its hem – a reference to Stonewall transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson. Kendall Jenner, meanwhile, channeled Audrey Hepburn with a see-through dress covered in crystals. The dress was a contemporary take on the one worn by Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady”.
Zendaya has made a number of iconic nods, wearing a long version of Beyonce’s 2003 BET Awards Versace dress for the same event this year and a cutout yellow dress to the Oscars, modeled on one previously worn by Cher on “The Sonny & Cher Show.”
And Angelina Jolie kept returning references close to home at the London premiere of “The Eternals,” with girls Zahara and Shiloh wearing some of Jolie’s red carpet dresses as they accompanied her. Jolie wore a 2018 Valentino dress.

Year 2000

Avril Lavigne attends the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on September 12, 2021 in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York City.

Avril Lavigne attends the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on September 12, 2021 in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York City. Credit: Astrid Stawiarz / WireImage / Getty Images

Championed by Gen Z stars like Dua Lipa and Addison Rae, the 2000s obsession continued through 2021. All the old trends were back in full force, spotted in Beyonce’s pink Versace wedge heels and Lipa wearing different butterfly outfits à la Mariah Carey – even a Von Dutch-esque cap was featured by Rihanna and Miley Cyrus.

Surprising brands like Ed Hardy and Juicy Couture have made a celebrity comeback, and retro basics like printed mesh tops, monogram prints and corsets have become staple pieces.

Other maligned Y2K styles, including hipster jeans and baby t-shirts, have also found their way into the closets of Lipa, Hadid and Kaia Gerber. This love for the 2000s shows no signs of abating, and it’s likely we’ll continue to see celebrities championing the decade until 2022, with Versace, Fendi and others all leading the movement.



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