This weekend, when the year’s top movie stars take to the Dolby Theatre for the 2016 Oscars, certain hair and makeup looks are bound to make frequent appearances—long loose waves, soft smoky eyes—as actresses so often play it safe for Hollywood’s biggest night. But thankfully, there are always a few red carpet risk-takers who break away from the pack to striking results.
Think Angelina Jolie Pitt, who made a high-impact statement in 2012 simply by jutting out one toned stem from her Atelier Versace dress—and became a full-blown meme. Women like Cher and Diane Keaton have always marched to the beat of their own drums, and continued to do so at the Oscars, thanks to a fully exposed midriff and rumpled hair, respectively. For other stars, the awards show is an opportunity to play against type: Rooney Mara subverted the ingenue narrative with a blunt black fringe set high above her brows, a tack that Gwyneth Paltrow took a decade earlier when she appeared with a goth slick of black liner that matched her worn-without-a-bra McQueen gown.
Then there’s Zendaya, the 19-year-old singer and hair chameleon, whose dreadlocks last year not only paired beautifully with her Grecian-inspired dress, but also sparked an important conversation around the Oscars. Following Giuliana Rancic’s suggestion that the hairstyle may have smelled like “patchouli oil or weed,” Zendaya’s powerful response called for an end to offensive cultural stereotypes and for a celebration of African-American hair on the red carpet. Her declaration has perhaps never seemed more relevant, in light of an Oscars season that has been marked by a lack of diversity. After all, the best rule-breakers are the ones tearing down barriers along the way.
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