Karl Lagerfeld was a master of the classic Oscar dress

For Julianne. From Karl.
For Julianne. From Karl.
Image: John Shearer/Invision/AP
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Even if he wasn’t in attendance himself, Karl Lagerfeld was a fixture on the Oscars red carpet.

For decades before he died on Feb. 19, his work for Chanel adorned stars including Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Sarah Jessica Parker, Margot Robbie, and even singer Pharrell Williams, who wore a Chanel tux to the event in 2017. Some were signed ambassadors for the house, a role that generally includes appearing in brand campaigns, attending its shows, and wearing its clothes. Others just wanted to spend an evening (paywall) in Lagerfeld’s work.

The prolific and problematic Lagerfeld caused a fuss in 2017 when he said the label didn’t pay celebrities to wear its clothes and alleged that actress Meryl Streep requested a Chanel design for the Oscars but changed her mind when the label refused to pay her. (Streep denied the claim and struck back at Lagerfeld, who later called it a misunderstanding.)

Though in his decades-spanning career Lagerfeld didn’t have a signature design (paywall), his Oscar dresses of at least the last 20 years did share some traits. They opted for refinement and elegance, rather than the ostentatious. They hewed to a palette of neutrals, soft shades, and metallics. And they dispensed with over-the-top flourishes, even if they included plenty of embellishment: 80,000 sequins ornamented the dress Julianne Moore wore in 2015, when she won her first Academy Award. They could be sexy, like those Jennifer Lopez and Michelle Williams wore in 2001 and 2011. But if they showed skin they tended to do it through fabric. They were classics.

Here’s a look back at some of Lagerfeld’s Chanel looks that celebrities wore to the Oscars over the years.

Margot Robbie, 2018

90th Academy Awards - Oscars Arrivals – Hollywood, California, U.S., 04/03/2018 – Margot Robbie wears Chanel. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni - HP1EE350202MK
Robbie, a Chanel ambassador, wore clean, elegant white.
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

Pharrell Williams, 2017

Pharrell Williams arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Chanel isn’t known for menswear, but that didn’t stop ambassador and collaborator Pharrell.
Image: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Sofia Boutella, 2017

Sofia Boutella arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
The Algerian actress and former dancer went with a gown that moves.
Image: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Julianne Moore, 2016

Julianne Moore arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Moore had no deal with Chanel, but returned to the house for this black dress encrusted with 1,500 Swarovski stones.
Image: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Daisy Ridley, 2016

Daisy Ridley arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Ridley’s stylist, Petra Flannery, said she thought the dress was reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn.
Image: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Julianne Moore, 2015

Julianne Moore arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Moore won best actress for the movie “Still Alice” wearing this Chanel Couture gown.
Image: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Jessica Biel, 2014

Jessica Biel arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
Biel wore a form-fitting stunner with embellishment down the back.
Image: Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP

Michelle Williams, 2011

Actress Michelle Williams arrives before the 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Williams’s exquisite dress was simple, sleeved, and subtly sheer.
Image: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Sarah Jessica Parker, 2010

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker arrives at the 82nd Academy Awards in Hollywood March 7, 2010. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES) (OSCARS-ARRIVALS - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT) - GM1E6380V8Y01
Parker had a Chanel look Carrie Bradshaw would have approved.
Image: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Diane Kruger, 2010

German actress Diane Kruger, from the film "Inglourious Basterds," arrives at the 82nd Academy Awards in Hollywood March 7, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES) (OSCARS-ARRIVALS - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT) - GM1E6380NJH01
Kruger picked Chanel in 2010, and then the label chose her in 2013 as a beauty ambassador.
Image: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Penelope Cruz, 2008

Actress Penelope Cruz presents the Oscar for best foreign language film of the year at the 80th Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
The fun, feathered trim lightened up Cruz’s black gown.
Image: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Kirsten Dunst, 2007

Actress Kirsten Dunst arrives at the 79th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 25, 2007. Dunst is wearing a dress from Chanel Haute Couture. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES) - GF1DURRMNJAB
There’s a lot to like about Dunst’s dress in embroidered, light blue tulle, but the collar made it.
Image: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Vanessa Paradis, 2005

French actress Vanessa Paradis arrives to the 77th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, February 27, 2005. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson MMR - RP5DRIHQHHAA
By 2005, French actress Paradis was already a longtime lover of Chanel and ambassador for the house.
Image: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

Nicole Kidman, 2004

Actress Nicole Kidman arrives for the 76th annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California February 29, 2004. Kidman is presenting an award during the Academy Awards ceremony. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard KW/MA - RP4DRIBDQUAA
Kidman went with a chic blue Chanel dress not long after she was named the new face of fragrance Chanel No. 5.
Image: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

Nicole Kidman, 2002

Best actress nominee Nicole Kidman poses for photographers upon arrival at the 74th annual Academy Awards Sunday, March 24, 2002, in Los Angeles. Best supporting actor nominee Jon Voight, second from left, stands with with German actress Nastassja Kinski. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Kidman arriving in a pale pink, tiered Chanel gown.
Image: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Jennifer Lopez, 2001

Entertainer Jennifer Lopez poses in front of an Oscar statue at the 73rd annual Academy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California March 25, 2001. Lopez presented an award at the ceremony. REUTERS/Mike Blake BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE - GF2E47S0QVF01
The sexy, sheer top was on brand for Lopez, but in an understated way.
Image: Reuters/Mike Blake

Uma Thurman, 1999

Actress Uma Thurman arrives at the 71st Annual Academy awards at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, March 21. Thurman is a presenter at the Awards. JC/JP/DL/JRE
Thurman’s two-piece dress offered just a peek of skin.
Image: Reuters