2021 may have been full of uncertainty — but you wouldn’t know it looking at the year’s biggest and best red carpet moments. In spite of all the ups and downs of the past year (or perhaps because of them), celebrities brought some of their boldest looks yet. From splashy movie premieres and comeback tours to award show peacocking and Met Gala madness, 2021 was not a year of subtlety in fashion.
The best red carpet looks were an amped-up version of what was happening everywhere else as re-openings inspired people to ditch their sweats and dress up for the first time in over a year. Call it revenge dressing for the red carpet set, a trend that is predicted to continue through to 2022, where spring collections are heavy on high heels, revealing silhouettes and high-voltage color.
Here, a look at the top ten best dressed celebs of 2021 and their best looks of the year.
The actress already had a lengthy fashion resume before 2021, but this year Zendaya Coleman took her style game to the stratosphere. Working with longtime stylist Law Roach, the “Euphoria” star debuted a series of red carpet looks that featured a variety of colors, silhouettes and beauty accents to accompany them. That included plenty of couture, including key ensembles from Valentino (the actress is one of the Italian fashion house’s ambassadors) and this sculptural white sequin gown by Rick Owens, which she wore with Christian Louboutin heels and Bulgari jewelry to the London premiere of “Dune” in October.
After a series of cancellations and postponements, the Met Gala was finally back on in September 2021, at the tail of New York Fashion Week — and Billie Eilish was belle of the ball, literally. The music artist continued with her retro vamp new look (a departure from the oversized, unisex and neon-green hair looks of her first year in the spotlight), walking the red carpet in a fantastical peachy tulle gown by Oscar de la Renta, complete with a supersized train that made it the look of the night — and one of the very best of the year.
Lil Nas X
If there was one thing we could count on in 2021, it was that Lil Nas X would show up on any given red carpet in a jaw-dropping, one-of-a-kind look. Coinciding with the success of his single “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” and the subsequent release of his album “Montero,” the music artist continued his tour of shock and awe, from his blood-filled Nikes in the song’s music video earlier in the year to hot pink, homoerotic football uniforms in another video. On the red carpet, there were mullets, gold robot suits, feather-trimmed Gucci suits, pleated mini skirts and crop tops. We have a feeling he’s just getting started.
The Gen Z artist is known musically for helping to bring back rock music, and her fashion influence runs parallel, resurrecting both ’90s and 2000s silhouettes, shoes and looks with ease. Rodrigo’s summer appearance at the White House in archival Chanel and platform sandals sent the fashion world into time travel. But it was a creatively skin-baring black Saint Laurent gown, which the singer wore Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opening Gala in September that has since taken Rodrigo to a new level of fashion prowess.
If there was a spirit animal for pandemic re-opening fashion, it might be Harry Styles. Back in March at the Grammy Awards, the music artist ushered in revenge fashion by sporting a Gucci textured wool and checked cropped jacket with velvet trousers and a purple feather boa casually thrown arouhis nd his neck — a moment that was simultaneously comic relief and a cue to have fun with fashion for the rest of the year. Styles continued to preach the idea of not taking fashion too seriously during his tour, even donning a Dorothy costume — complete with ruby red slippers created by Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele — during his “Harryween” shows in New York during Halloween weekend.
Always one to make a statement on the red carpet, Gaga took 2021 to fully embody her role as Patrizia Reggiani in “House of Gucci” — both onscreen and offscreen. On the red carpet, the actress
The “Queen’s Gambit” star had a breakout season on the red carpet, from the Golden Globes to the Emmys. At the latter, a Dior Haute Couture gown was actually two dresses in one, with a backless train that the actress wore with Tiffany & Co. diamond necklaces worn on her back.
Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly
“Hot vax summer” didn’t quite go as planned, but plenty lived vicariously through Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly, who showed up on red carpets together wearing their affection for one another on their sleeves — or not wearing much at all. At the MTV Video Music Awards in September, Fox stepped on the red carpet wearing a completely sheer nude cocktail dress, standing next to Kelly in a red sequin striped suit with a pearly jewelry detailing on the side of his face. Their looks — and behavior — might be unpredictable, but that’s exactly the point.
Hailey and Justin Bieber
Another couple who reflect the times of pandemic fashion, Hailey and Justin’s shared style has been a bit more realistic and attainable for the average couple. From matching sweatsuits in lockdown to coordinating dressed-up suits and mini dresses while finally out for date nights, the couple has consistently shown how coordinating style can look cool and not contrived, even