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Venice Film Festival: The best dresses of all time

From Zendaya's wet-look Balmain moment to Lily-Rose Depp's ethereal Chanel glamour, these are the best Venice looks in fashion history 

Zendaya in beige wet-look gown
Orin Carlin
Orin CarlinContent Writer
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The end of August is nigh, but there's no need to despair. Red carpet fashion fans - you're in for a treat, as Venice Film Festival is just around the corner. 

The annual Italian celebration of international cinematic excellence is a screen star magnet - from Gwyneth Paltrow and Anne Hathaway to Keira Knightley and Jennifer Lawrence

A-listers show up in their hordes to promote their latest pictures with stylists in tow to ensure that each and every red carpet appearance is as flawless as the next. 

When is Venice Film Festival 2023?

This year, the festival will take place between 30 August and 9 September, but before the 80th version of the annual event gets underway, we're casting our minds back to some of the most memorable outfits in Venice Film Festival fashion history.  

READ: Cannes Film Festival: the 15 best beauty looks of all time

Hello! Fashion shares the best Venice Film Festival dresses of all time:

Gina Lollobrigida – 1954

Gina Lollobrigida wearing halterneck dress and fur accessory © Getty
Woman of Rome screening

Italian icon Gina Lollobrigida looked utterly devastating in 1954 when she rocked up to the premiere of her new picture in a glitzy halter neck gown and a frothy white fur accessory. The star passed away earlier this year, and so the pre-opening night of this year's festival is dedicated to her memory.

Linda Christian – 1955

Actress Linda Christian in a white floral motif gown © Getty
The Kentucky Ball

Vintage star Linda Christian looked radiant in a white floor-length gown at the Kentucky Ball in 1955. The piece featured floral adornments around the sweetheart neckline and printed motifs.

Sophia Loren – 1958

Sophia Loren in a white wide-circle dress surrounded by men © Getty
Lido party

Italian acting legend Sophia Loren was serving crisp elegance at a party held on the Lido in 1958. The star wore a white square-neck gown with a cinched-in waist and a dazzling brooch adornment.

Elizabeth Taylor – 1963  

Elizabeth Taylor wearing a white wrap gown and looking up at Richard Burton© Getty
Venice Film Festival 1963

Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor accompanied her long-time love Richard Burton while he received the David Di Donatello award in the early 1960s. She opted for a white wrap dress embellished with beaded clusters and wore her hair in one of her trademark elaborate 'dos.

MORE: 10 best Oscars dresses throughout the years: Salma Hayek, Charlize Theron and more

READ: The 20 most glamorous Met Gala dresses of all time

Salma Hayek – 2002

Salma Hayek in a sheer lace dress© Getty
Frida screening

Salma Hayek proved the power of a little black dress in 2002 when she rocked up to the Frida screening in a semi-sheer lace number with fluted sleeves, taking the visible lingerie trend for a spin before it was even a thing.

Anne Hathaway – 2008

Anne Hathaway wearing green-blue Versace gown © Getty
Rachel Getting Married screening

Anne Hathaway was giving sea goddess splendour in 2008 when she wore a green-blue strapless Versace gown with lustrous rosettes and frothy ruffles.

Gwyneth Paltrow – 2011

Gwyneth Paltrow in pink gown with bow neckline © Getty
Contagion screening

Hollywood royalty Gwyneth Paltrow looked elegant in a sugar pink Prada gown featuring an oversized bow at the back of the neckline. She swept her hair in a soft side parting and wore a rose pink hue on her lips to complete the look.

Keira Knightley – 2011

Keira Knightley in a gold gown © Getty
A Dangerous Method screening

Keira Knightley looked exquisite in 2011 when she opted for gilded Valentino. The star wore a long-sleeved semi-sheer gown with a delicate gold lace overlay and wore her hair in a casual middle parting.

Madonna – 2011

Madonna in a blue Miu Miu dress © Getty
W.E. screening

Madonna brought a touch of vintage rockabilly glam to Venice in 2011 in a look by Miu Miu. The international pop star rocked a fluid lavender blue maxi adorned with vibrant butterflies and topped things off with a pair of glitzy cat-eye sunglasses.

Emma Stone – 2016

Emma Stone wearing teal sequin gown © Getty
La La Land premiere

Emma Stone's teal sequin moment in 2016 had a lavish, slightly 1920s, air about it. Her Versace gown caught the light perfectly and the razzle-dazzle spirit shone through.

Naomi Watts – 2016

Naomi Watts in an embellished Elie Saab gown © Getty
The Bleeder screening

Naomi Watts brought an embellishment injection to the red carpet in 2016 with her decadently decorated Elie Saab gown. The piece featured shimmery embroidered nature motifs and a dramatic thigh-high split.

Jennifer Lawrence – 2017

Jennifer Lawrence in sheer Dior polka dot gown © Getty
Mother! screening

Jennifer Lawrence looked picture perfect in 2017 when she wore a semi-sheer polka dot piece by Dior. The fitted bodice featured blooms which looked as though they had been crafted using a flower press and the effect was unforgettable.

Kirsten Dunst – 2017

Kirsten Dunst wearing a sheer polka dot gown  © Getty
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri screening

Kirsten Dunst also championed polka dots in 2017, rocking a tiered maxi by Rodarte with a floral focal point. The mesh overlay felt pretty and delicate, especially around the neckline, accented by a red-pink lip.

Cate Blanchett – 2018

Cate Blanchett wearing black maxi gown © Getty
A Star is Born premiere

Cate Blanchett had a certain sculptural cool about her in 2018 at the A Star is Born premiere. Clad in Armani Privé, the actress pulled off her deep velvet plunge and frothy feather sleeves with the utmost leading lady ease.

Natalie Portman – 2018

Natalie Portman wearing a gold Gucci gown © Getty
Vox Lux screening

Now this, we seriously must borrow. Sporting Gucci, Natalie Portman was giving gilded glitz in 2018 in a shoulder-padded number with a sumptuous velvet waistband.

Lily-Rose Depp – 2019

Lily-Rose Depp in a scarf-tie gown© Getty
The King screening

Lily-Rose Depp was an ethereal dream in 2019 when she wore a scarf-tie gown by Chanel. The star echoed the flowy movement into her hairstyle, opting for gentle, face-framing tendrils.

Maya Hawke – 2020

Maya Hawke in a glitzy Gucci dress © Getty
Mainstream screening

Maya Hawke was giving major mermaid vibes in 2020 when she rocked up at the Mainstream screening in a Versace showstopper. The attention to detail on this one is next level – the mirrored cut-out shapes are a particular highlight.

Dakota Johnson – 2021

Dakota Johnson wearing silver gown © Getty
The Lost Daughter screening

Another vote for Gucci glitz comes in the form of Dakota Johnson's dripping-in-crystals gown. The combination of the chain overlay and the pink teardrop gemstones adds a sense of texture, and those shoulder pads are unapologetically high octane.  

Zendaya – 2021

Zendaya in beige wet-look gown© Getty
Dune screening

Zendaya's wet-look moment in 2021 will go down in fashion history. From the skin-tight Balmain silhouette to the exquisite serpentine Buglari emerald around her neck, frankly, we're still reeling from the level of outfit drama.

Camila Mendes - 2022

Camila Mendes in a black deep plunging gown © Getty
Bones and All screening

Camila Mendes brought a sense of gothic glamour to the red carpet in 2022, sporting a beautiful, plunging gown by Armani Privé. The tiered tulle sleeves make for a powerful silhouette, and the stylish side cut-outs add a sense of balance.

Gemma Chan – 2022

Gemma Chan wearing sequin maxi dress © Getty
Don't Worry Darling screening

 Last year, Gemma Chan looked utterly dazzling in a silver sequin column-shape dress with bold floral appliqué. The actress kept her beauty look relatively pared back with an elegant updo and neutral tones to allow her Louis Vuitton glitz to take centre stage. 

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