Golden Globes: What Makes a Dress

Drew Barrymore Golden Globes Red Carpet - P 2012
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Drew Barrymore Golden Globes Red Carpet - P 2012

The awards show has overtaken the Oscars as the most unexpected night for fashion, with a look that's both sexy and distinctive.

Back in the Stone Age of the Golden Globes -- pre-1990s -- female nominees strolled in wearing pantsuits and tweed, often having to cut through check-in crowds thronging the Beverly Hilton lobby.

Well, we've come a long way, baby.

These days, the Golden Globes are the fashion awards show, while the other ceremonies have grown predictable. 

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Exhibit A: the Oscars. With its freer atmosphere, multitude of nominees and booze at the table, the Globes offer the perfect mix of the chic and the unexpected.

"The idea is that you can have more fun at the Globes since the Academy Awards have much more gravitas," explains stylist Leslie Fremar, who is working with Charlize Theron this Globes. "They're still formal in the sense that one wears a gown, but people are less nervous." 

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We now recognize a Globes gown when we see one, from Nicole Kidman's wonderfully flamboyant gold-mesh 1920s-style dress complete with flapper headband in 2004 to Kate Hudson's 2010 white Marchesa, which appeared to have a breastplate as a bodice. Even Giorgio Armani sent Anne Hathaway and Megan Fox out at last year's Globes in risque flesh-pink Armani Prive gowns.

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Stylist Elizabeth Stewart, who's working with nominees Viola Davis and Jessica Chastain this season, uses the Globes as a venue for a bit of fashion fearlessness. "I love to take a bit more of a risk with a Globes dress," she admits. "Last year, Jennifer Lawrence fell in love with a big beautiful black Louis Vuitton ballgown that was a departure for her. So we thought, 'Perfect for Globes. Start out bold.' "