10. Princess Stephanie’s Elie Saab Wedding Gown
Proving that Kate Middleton isn’t the only one who can turn heads with a gorgeous royal wedding dress, Belgian countess Stephanie de Lannoy chose a stunning Elie Saab gown for her Oct. 20 nuptials with Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg. The custom dress, which Saab labored over for 3,200 hours, was straight out of a fairy tale: three-quarter-length lace sleeves, a silk tulle veil and a dramatic 12-foot train were just some of the details that made it a gown befitting a princess.
9. Jessica Chastain in Alexander McQueen
Jessica Chastain joined the ranks of red-carpet royalty when she arrived at the Academy Awards in a black and gold Alexander McQueen gown. With six films that opened in 2011, Chastain was an emerging fashion star by the time the Oscars came around. Many fashion bloggers thought she would wear Armani Privé for the evening (she was in the front row at the label’s show when she learned of her Best Supporting Actress nomination for The Help). Instead, she surprised in McQueen and was named best dressed by several critics the next day.
8. Anna Wintour at the Met Gala
Ever the fashion diplomat, Anna Wintour managed to honor both subjects of this year’s Costume Institute Gala — Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada — in one spectacular dress. Designed by Prada, the flashy white number featured a jeweled lobster design, which paid homage to Schiaparelli, whose 1937 “lobster dress” is an icon in the fashion canon.
7. Kate Middleton in Jenny Packham
On May 11, Kate Middleton attended a gala for the Olympic Games wearing a teal Jenny Packham gown with a lace-panel back and delicate button details that were reminiscent of her royal wedding dress. Since becoming the Duchess of Cambridge, Middleton’s fashions have veered toward conservative. She has always looked perfectly appropriate and put together, if not a little too modest — which is why we loved the glamour and elegance of this Packham number.
6. Ann Romney in Oscar de la Renta
Throughout the campaign season, Ann Romney never got as much attention for her sartorial choices as First Lady Michelle Obama, despite her apparent love of fashion. That changed on the night Romney delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, for which she wore a bright red belted Oscar de la Renta dress. Romney’s look was universally praised by fashion critics, who also noted the significance of her choice: de la Renta famously chided Obama for wearing too casual an outfit to meet Queen Elizabeth II in April 2009, and she has yet to wear his designs for a public event since becoming First Lady.