There’s no doubt about it: Penélope Cruz, nominated this year for her role in the musical Nine, is the queen of show-stopping Oscar dresses. Here, we take a look back at a decade of the Spanish actress’s sensational Academy Awards style—both on the red carpet and at the glamorous after parties.
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All the way back in 2000, Cruz, in a blue gown by Ralph Lauren, was already a style force to be reckoned with. We love how she kept her outfit simple with pulled back hair and a transparent shawl—a chic look for the rising star.
In 2001, Cruz presented the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, so it’s only fitting that she showed off her flair for fashion (and the influence of her Spanish heritage) in a sparkly lace gown by Ralph Lauren. The dress’s flirty, off-the-shoulder neckline paired perfectly with her romantically wavy hairstyle.
Yellow can be a tricky color to pull off, but Cruz looked stunning in a sunny-hued gown by Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta at Oscar night in 2005. Her skin was radiant against the shimmering silk taffeta fabric, while an oversized bow at the back of the strapless dress added a fun, unexpected touch to her slim silhouette.
Penélope Cruz certainly had fun with color at the Academy Awards in 2005! After the ceremony, she changed from her yellow Oscar de la Renta gown into a flowing green goddess dress for the Vanity Fair Oscar Party.
Nominated for Best Actress for her role in Volver in 2007, Cruz went for maximum glam in a breathtaking, nude Atelier Versace gown. With a silk chiffon bustier and floor-sweeping fluffy train, Cruz’s dress made Oscar fashion history—and several Best Dressed lists.
Transforming from a fairytale princess into a party girl, Cruz rocked the 2007 Oscars by wearing dresses at both ends of the style spectrum. For the Vanity Fair Oscar Party, she changed from the full-skirted ball gown she wore at the awards ceremony into a gorgeous beaded flapper-style dress by Chanel Couture.
Two hundred hours sounds like a long time to spend making one dress—until you see the flawlessly constructed Chanel Couture gown Cruz wore to the 2008 Oscars. The midnight blue dress’s strapless neckline—perfect for showing off Cruz’s toned shoulders—created a subtly seductive effect, and ruby and diamond drop earrings by Chopard added the perfect touch of sparkle to the sophisticated look.
If you’ve ever put off wearing a dress until you have the perfect occasion to show it off, you’ll get a kick out of the story behind this vintage gown. Cruz first found the Pierre Balmain dress in a store eight years before the 2009 Oscars—but didn’t get a chance to wear it until she accepted the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The “wow” factor of the gown, with its sweeping romantic train and golden embroidery, was definitely worth the wait.
At the 2009 Vanity Fair after party, Cruz, an Academy Award winner that evening, traded the vintage Pierre Balmain frock she wore to the awards ceremony for a white, one-shoulder Atelier Versace gown with a thigh-baring hemline. Hey, if you’ve got legs like hers, we say—show them off!