2015: the year that brought sexy back. The red carpet was awash last year with the sexy, the see-through, and the sparkly; women with amazing bodies poured into the kind of ensembles that were going to show those good genes off, and why not? I definitely sit in the ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’ camp – the key to class in this equation just lies in the execution. So to ring in 2016, here are my 23 favourite looks of the year that also saw Ben and Jen split, Adele back in the charts and Bruce become Cait – what a ride. From the Met Gala to Cannes, this is a truly comprehensive rundown of the last 365 days in Cinderella moments.
Opening proceedings is a lady wont of doing so as a Victoria’s Secret veteran, Alessandra Ambrosio. Pictured here at the InStyle & Warner Bros. Golden Globes after-party, Ambrosio is wearing Zuhair Murad. The Lebanese designer enjoyed likely the most successful year of his career in 2015, thanks in part to a long-standing gig dressing Jennifer Lopez for all of her red carpet engagements. But I’m not talking riding coattails here, Murad is a designer worth his salt. Renowned for making unapologetically sexy gowns, Murad – and I’m really fan-girling over here – loves to strategically place opulent embellishments over transparent, gossamer materials. That is, whilst this dress might look extremely bare and daring, Ambrosio is actually completely covered and I like to think that’s because his vision is to create a mirage, a fantasy woman. I’d also just like it said that aubergine, the shade of many a bridesmaid’s nightmares, has *never* looked this good.
2) Irina Shayk
A ticket to the Vanity Fair after-party is one of the most coveted in town once proceedings have wrapped over at the Dolby Theatre. For the last couple of years, I’ve often thought the fashion was better here than at the actual Oscars, and 2015 was no exception. The first of my three picks from this carpet is Irina Shayk in Atelier Versace. The dress itself is classic Versace: unabashed Italian sexuality celebrating her every dip and curve with a fluid line of black material creeping down one half of her perfectly-formed frame, but the unexpected touch of the bojangled body stocking adorning her peek-a-boo legs is an uber-cool feature I’ve never seen replicated in any other ensemble. This is innovative black-dress dressing, and I love the blown out hair; it relaxes the unforgiving cut-outs of the dress and softens the overall look. Ultimately, while the label may say Versace, the only name anyone should remember when looking at this image is hers, I mean: Irina The Body Shayk.
3) Rachel Weisz
After three years it was finally time for the latest instalment of Bond to hit the silver screen in October, and, luckily for fashion, a Royal red carpet to accompany its launch. Pictured here is Rachel Weisz, aka, Mrs Daniel Craig (so she wins already) but doubly so for the fact her stylist picked this divine McQueen creation. For me, the beauty lies in all of the very fine detailing and intricate embroidery that gives this gown its lingerie-esque vibe, all of which is balanced by the nonchalant waves of her glossy lob. I’m also fangirling over the fact this dress could be worn in different seasons given the palette of autumnal purple mixed with spring greens and a cream underlay. Simple and sexy wins the race.
4) Gigi Hadid
The second show-stopping look of the Vanity Fair carpet has to be Gigi Hadid, also wearing Atelier Versace. I could be accused here of not appreciating variety, after all, this is the same designer as Ms Shayk’s dress, it’s the same colour, too, but accessorised into very different styles. For one, the very blonde ponytail has an age-appropriate, youthful feel to it, making a rich contrast against the black of the dress. The swirls of black fabric over her chest are sure enough provocative, but also very cool, and she carries it off extremely well whether she’s a professional clotheshorse or not. And that leg slit though, those t-bars! Just, gorgeous.
5) Candice Swanepoel
She made her name modelling lingerie and in 2012 etched it onto Forbes’ Highest Paid Models list. At the Met Ball in May, it wasn’t hard to see why; even in a full length, and – all things considered – covered dress, all you can see (and all that’s suggested by the nude hue of the gown) is the incredibly shaped specimen lying underneath. Take a bow Candice Swanepoel’s trainer and stylist; the girl’s a dream. Wearing Michael Kors Collection (see, they don’t just make watches that populate ‘Basic Bitch starter packs’) I love the simplicity of the glove-fit tailoring accentuated only by the chintzy fabric. The tone is perfect on her sun-kissed skin and whilst her stylist was clearly not on-theme for the ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’ dress code, her look made for an instant classic.
6) Chrissy Teigen
Pink and pretty, I couldn’t resist putting this feminine creation on the list. Donned by Chrissy Teigen at the Golden Globes, and once again designed by Zuhair Murad, this dress just hit all the right notes. As a nominee’s partner, Teigen is dressed both tastefully and tactfully for the event, but nonetheless her fun, flirty personality is captured with this gown. For all of the fuss in the dress’s fabric, the beachy ponytail complete with the loose tendrils that frame her face gives this form-fitting look a thoroughly modern vibe.
7) Jennifer Lopez
JLO, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: you’re a superstar diva/mother/cougar in the best shape and fashion form of your life, still selling out stadium shows and doing this all at 45. Forty-fucking-five, and you’re killing it. As host, she changed outfits 11 times during the ceremony, but dedicated is Ms. Lopez’s middle name.
I want, I will be like this at 45. I don’t care what anyone else says, I love this Vegas-esque, starry cape dress and the superhero vibes she’s delivering reflect the new-wave feminism we saw in trending in 2015 as well, so top marks to her!
8) Jourdan Dunn
Cannes Film Festival is such a treat. Like a week long Met Ball, fashion’s finest designers clamber to dress the biggest billed stars in attendance, churning out gown after gown to accompany the red carpets of new films destined for the Hollywood canon – and a 10-page spread in Vanity Fair, or some such publication. The entire festival reeks of exclusivity, but that’s why you can always rely on it for some Kodak moments. Even before I read the small print, I had a gut feeling (mermaid cut, silk tulle) that this would be a Vera Wang. Maker of fairytale wedding dresses to high-profile clients Hollywood over, the romance underpinning this whole look is all Vera. Dressing a supermodel should be an easy task for any stylist, after all, they’d look good in a rubble sack, right? But the execution put into Jourdan Dunn’s look is a masterclass in how-to dress: formal wear. The middle-parting is very cool but the metallic eye brings just enough unison between her natural beauty and the aegean blue of the dress so that none of these individual elements are fighting for prominence. Overall, this look feels partly nostalgic of old Hollywood but is brought bang up to date with the mermaid skirt and empire line keyhole cut-out. Gorgeous.
9) Hannah Davis
If you haven’t heard of her before, you’ll remember her name now. Hannah Davis, Sports Illustrated cover girl for 2015 (and owner of the best stylist in the States) wore Naeem Khan to the AMAs in November. From the immaculate make-up and middle-parted, waved ponytail to the almost chainmail texture of the dress, she looks a silver screen siren (even though she isn’t. Yet). The multiple textures and fluid shape of the dress are very provocative – as is the blatant leotard she’s wearing underneath, but this look is all one of suggestion: look but don’t touch. Full marks for effort and for *that* high neckline on a red carpet gown, turtle necks are so effortlessly regal.
10) Lily Aldridge
Alexandre Vauthier, a Frenchman after my own heart. Vauthier designs many of his collections in exclusively black and gold palettes. I particularly like that he kept things simple here and went for a distinctly non-PG 13 cut with a simplistic train over anything else. This dress is very daring with its very plunging neckline which could only be pulled off by, as George Kotsiopoulos would say, ‘a girl with model boobies’, but that’s exactly what we have in Lily Aldridge. Her lean frame is accentuated and celebrated by this dress, so there’s no need for much jewellery or fussy hair. Lily is just too cool for school.
11) Natasha Poly
Back to Cannes but this time for Natasha Poly in a jaw-dropping Atelier Versace number. Half glittery bodysuit, half iridescent balloon skirt, I love the clashing of elements here in fabric, colour and texture, and this may well be what makes it the most photogenic ensemble of the year. The ballerina bun is also on point, letting the dress do all the talking whilst complimenting her striking but still dainty features. Admittedly, I love the leg pop too, it puts Angelina’s to shame.
12) Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Raising the flag for home-grown fashion at the end of November was Daily Mail favourite Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, decked out in Burberry for the British Fashion Awards. This look is textbook, and that’s why I love it. The formula is very simple: beautiful girl in a simply cut, perfectly tailored gown with only a plunge neck and leg split as structural accents. The easy-going hair and makeup round off this radiant, polished look. Gah, Rosie never looks anything less than luxurious.
13) Jennifer Lopez
I remember seeing this dress when it first glided down the runway at the S/S16 Balmain runway show at Paris Fashion Week (lamentably, I wasn’t there, but, hello Instagram). Shown on Kate Grigorieva, aka, one of the newest Angels, the model had her hair up in an impossibly groomed, high pony with beige and gold makeup. Jennifer Lopez interpreted the look with a more grown-up, low – but still G L O S S Y – ponytail and sky-high sparkly Louboutins. Unsurprisingly, I’m obsessed with the nude tone but this pencil shape and calf-length cut is what sets it off for me – it’s the dream. Perfect for date night.
14) Hannah Davis
Here she is again but I couldn’t ignore Hannah Davis’ look from the Met Ball in May. Dressed in J Mendel, it’s brilliant to see a red gown done such justice. It’s a classic scarlet hue but the beauty look she’s gone for gives her a really exotic, other-worldly vibe. It will come as no surprise to many that her make-up and tanning was done by the ultimate cosmetics auteur, Charlotte Tilbury, and it shows – that woman loves high glamour. Hannah’s a showstopper in this cut-out centric silk gown, so I think it definitely lives up to the Met’s elite dress code.
15) Kendall Jenner
It was the night her father collected the Arthur Ashe Award for courage, but before the ceremony unfolded, Kendall rocked the red carpet with typical Kardashian aplomb in this elegant Alexandre Vauthier gown. But perhaps I’m being harsh and should give her more credit for the Jenner genes here; she is more understated and sublime than her older sisters from another mister and ultimately has a more measured aura about her. The mix of fabrics alongside her poker straight hair is a winning combination – I love it. Perfection.
16) Alessandra Ambrosio
Next is another look at Alessandra Ambrosio, this time at the 2015 (and first ever) Instyle Awards wearing another creation by Alexandre Vauthier. White is actually quite unusual on a red carpet and can look cheap, but the sweeping lines, harlequin cut-outs and jewel embellishment take it to another level. Props to the beauty team as well for the undone up-do, the dress is so polished it needed some nonchalance to relax the overall image.
17) Chanel Iman
I know, I know, there are enough nudes on this list to get me on some kind of blacklist, but I just can’t get enough of these effortless hues, they are just the other side of class. The final look from the Vanity Fair event (the carpet that keeps on giving) is Chanel Iman, in, you guessed it, a form-fitting number by Mr Murad. Not so much embellishment this time but the damask pattern overlay is very intricate and the colour is creamy fawn perfection. Given her petite figure she carries this off where other girls might struggle, and ultimately looks very neat, like an itsy-bitsy celestial statue.
18) Gigi Hadid
Props to Miss Hadid for wearing a British designer to the MTV Video Music Awards in August. This was a bold choice, and I’m not just thinking of the colour! The cut away dress reveals her deeply tanned legs and shows off the matching body suit which is why this dress epitomises so many of the looks on this list: sexy but refined, nude, but, not. I’m also taken aback by how much I love this deep marigold colour, it’s another brave choice but I think she avoids Big Bird parallels with the amazing blown out hair and bronzed-beauty look. I wonder if the High street will do a replica this year…? *Kneels down to pray*
19) Jenna Dewan-Tatum
She made it to my Best Oscar Dresses Of All Time list so it felt wrong to leave her out here. But where to start? The brilliant white gown, the red lip or encrusted belt? She is the Swan Princess and I adore it.
20) Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson has been impressing with her amazingly toned body of late and obviously saw the Golden Globes as the perfect opportunity to showcase all her hard work. Here, she’s pictured in Atelier Versace and my goodness, she owned it. Shape was obviously at the top of the designer’s agenda when making this gown but the clean sweeping lines are practically operatic in their grandeur. Bit much? Oh well. Luckily the bands of silver glitter bring some light-hearted sexiness to the scene reaching all the way round the dress to the very plunging front. This dress in a word? Inspired.
21) Lara Stone
Normally I don’t ‘go in’ for colour all that much, but Lara Stone stunned me in the one-and-only Calvin Klein last May. Calvin Klein is a designer that does simply cut column dresses better than anyone else, letting the beauty of the woman wearing it shine through (Emma Stone, Golden Globes 2010, anyone?) Worn in Cannes, this Ms. Stone convinced me that I, in fact, need to get some hot pink in my wardrobe, too. I’m also all over the minimalist approach to accessories because it’s at peace with the rest of the look: simple shape, dramatic colour – perfection.
22) Emily Ratajkowski
The darling of the Blurred Lines video took Grecian to the dark side at the Tony Awards in June. Navy is one of my favourite colours so I was always going to swoon for this Marc Jacobs dress, but the belt and pleated waistline really up-the-structure-ante on the bottom half. If I could change one thing it’d be the Matrix style discs on the seams; I’m not really sure how these tie in with the overall image but they’re just a bit too postmodernist for me. That being said, the rest of the accessorising is actually very smart: thin drop earrings and a neat up-do offer a nice conclusion to the Helen of Troy references.
23) Jennifer Aniston
She’s a familiar friend, sorry, face, on the red carpet, but Jennifer Aniston has definitely never looked as good nor as *fashion* as she did in this vintage Galliano at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in January. Glossy blonde mane as standard, the dress was somewhat out of her LBD comfort zone, but paired with the delicate gold body chain it was the nicest surprise of the night. Sorry she missed out on the win for her role in drama, Cake, but here I think here she basically ‘eats it too’. And with that, I shall whisper a fond adieu.