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Karl Lagerfeld was a master of the classic Oscar dress

Julianne Moore accepts the award for best actress in a leading role for “Still Alice" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
John Shearer/Invision/AP
For Julianne. From Karl.
By Marc Bain
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

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

Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
Robbie, a Chanel ambassador, wore clean, elegant white.

Pharrell Williams, 2017

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Chanel isn’t known for menswear, but that didn’t stop ambassador and collaborator Pharrell.

Sofia Boutella, 2017

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
The Algerian actress and former dancer went with a gown that moves.

Julianne Moore, 2016

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.

Daisy Ridley, 2016

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Ridley’s stylist, Petra Flannery, said she thought the dress was reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn.

Julianne Moore, 2015

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Moore won best actress for the movie “Still Alice” wearing this Chanel Couture gown.

Jessica Biel, 2014

Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP
Biel wore a form-fitting stunner with embellishment down the back.

Michelle Williams, 2011

AP Photo/Matt Sayles
Williams’s exquisite dress was simple, sleeved, and subtly sheer.

Sarah Jessica Parker, 2010

Reuters/Brian Snyder
Parker had a Chanel look Carrie Bradshaw would have approved.

Diane Kruger, 2010

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Kruger picked Chanel in 2010, and then the label chose her in 2013 as a beauty ambassador.

Penelope Cruz, 2008

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
The fun, feathered trim lightened up Cruz’s black gown.

Kirsten Dunst, 2007

Reuters/Lucas Jackson
There’s a lot to like about Dunst’s dress in embroidered, light blue tulle, but the collar made it.

Vanessa Paradis, 2005

Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
By 2005, French actress Paradis was already a longtime lover of Chanel and ambassador for the house.

Nicole Kidman, 2004

Reuters/Eric Gaillard
Kidman went with a chic blue Chanel dress not long after she was named the new face of fragrance Chanel No. 5.

Nicole Kidman, 2002

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
Kidman arriving in a pale pink, tiered Chanel gown.

Jennifer Lopez, 2001

Reuters/Mike Blake
The sexy, sheer top was on brand for Lopez, but in an understated way.

Uma Thurman, 1999

Thurman’s two-piece dress offered just a peek of skin.

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