That is it, cats! The five best looks of 2021, as chosen by an international jury known to us. As always, we expect a lot of opposition, but that’s kind of the purpose of these types of lists. Let’s start arguing, shall we? wait. You read Parts One, Two, and Three before you got here, right?
5. Kelly Marie Tran in Thai Nguyen at the ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ premiere
Asian and African cultural styles have made their way onto the red carpet multiple times this year (and several times on this year-end list). But when Kelly Marie Tran stepped onto the red carpet for the movie premiere… Raya and the last dragon In this stunning áo dài headpiece, she’s not only presenting herself as a a queen of some stature, was reclaiming her proper space on the red carpet after a sinister period she was teased by Star Wars fans. Not just a great cultural statement, but a powerful personal statement as well.
4. Emmys 2021: ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ star Anya Taylor-Joy in Dior Couture
This, we think, is another controversial option. It is definitely one of the more traditional options on this year’s menu. However, we kept coming back to this look and ultimately rated it very high for the simplest reasons: We love looking at it. Anya Taylor-Joy has the Audrey Hepburn-esque quality that makes her a perfect high-fashion model, but she has a face unusual enough to make those fashion choices seem different or even unworldly. Like Audrey, she tends to her open facial features and curvaceous body, which results in full effect by choosing highly dramatic, sometimes theatrical ensembles that excite her. She also has a team that really knows how to play with her hair and make it do all kinds of fun, weird, and dramatic things. While this design is traditional, no one else hit the red carpet quite in 2021. That’s all she has.
3. Bad Bunny at the Grammys at Burberry
Like we said earlier, we tend to compile these year-end rosters within hours of posting the first entries, but this was one of the few year-end themes that was automatically added to the roster within hours of it appearing. This is, quite simply, one of our favorite men’s red carpet looks in years. They’re unique, quirky, elegant, trendy, always slightly enveloping, perfect for the wearer, lightly sexy, and cute as hell. The pairing of yellow and sunflower shades is the perfect chef’s kiss. Nobody really knows where fashion will go decades in the future, but this is one of those looks that seems to be a sign of things to come.
2. Kumail Nanjiani in Umar Sayeed at the Eternals Premiere in Los Angeles
Like the treatment of Kelly Marie Tran at the hands of genre fans, Camille Nanjiani found himself on the receiving end of a lot of sweat-tinged trolling when he did the same thing that many white actors have done to applause and praise: he went on a Marvel movie fitness plan and transformed himself into a superhero. Unlike the Hemsworths and Pratts, or even Rudds and Cumberbatches who polished themselves to the physical perfection of their films, Nanjiani was ridiculed and physically humiliated at a time when he was very clear about the sense of responsibility to present the image of unnaturally muscular heroism offered to young South Asian fans of mainstream superhero films . Appearing at the world premiere of eternity In this stunning collection from Pakistani menswear designer Omar Saeed, like many of our picks for this list, it was a powerful personal and professional statement through fashion. It was also wonderful in every way.
And finally, our pick for the number one celebrity look of 2021. Brace yourself because we don’t think many are expecting it:
1. Lady Gaga in Schiaparelli Couture at Biden’s inauguration
Two weeks after the US Capitol was engulfed in violence, smoke, and finally death, Lady Gaga was tasked with stepping out on those very steps and doing her best in some way to bring us all together in a moment of tradition and a democratic cornerstone. Of course, she did not succeed in uniting the country. No problems have been addressed or resolved here. No minds have changed with a Schiaparelli dress, nor has the course of history changed in even the simplest of ways. But that’s not what fashion does. And besides, times are too complex to anticipate moments full of symbolism leading to anything that comes close to changing the real world. But again, that’s not what those moments are. Since we’ve tried to resort a few times through this list, for us, great style in 2021 was all about making some kind of statement and making a look so fun that it makes you feel something in response. Gaga’s gaze spoke of tradition and reverence, but it also spoke of hope, beauty, and patriotism that included both. It was wonderful, it was meaningful, it calmed the world for a second, and it asked us no more than to look at it.
[Photo Credit: Thai Nguyen Atelier/Instagram, Wayman + Micah/Instagram, Gold House/Instagram, Francis Specker/CBS, Rich Fury/Getty Images, Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2021, Francis Specker/CBS ©2021, Chris Kleponis/Cnp/Startraksphoto.com, Jonathan Ernst/Cnp/Startraksphoto.com, Susan Walsh/Cnp/Startraksphoto.com]