From Margot Robbie to Rihanna: The top 10 celebrity red carpet looks of 2023

Left to right: Sienna Miller, Harry Styles, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie.
Left to right: Sienna Miller, Harry Styles, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie. Photo credit: Karwai Tang / WireImage / Getty Images; Neilson Barnard / Getty Images; Getty Images; David Fisher / Shutterstock

By Leah Dolan of CNN

As another year comes to a close, it's time to revisit the star-studded red carpets that punctuated 2023 - and reminisce on the strongest fashion looks of the year. Despite the four-month SAG-AFTRA strike shutting down a number of red carpets, there were plenty of pop culture moments generated by subversive celebrity dressing. From Jared Leto's dedicated impersonation of Karl Lagerfeld's cat, Choupette, at the Met Gala in May to Margot Robbie recreating life-size doll looks during her Barbie press tour, this year proved that creativity (and a great stylist) was king.

In 2023, A-listers understood the power of the red carpet as both a platform and a world stage. Some took the opportunity to promote independent designers during a time when the economy was forcing small labels to shutter, while others continued to push sustainable, archival fashion.

There was more risk-taking, less-shirt wearing and a general attitude of riposte towards the fashion rulebook. To see CNN Style's top 10 red carpet moments of the past 12 months - in no particular order - keep scrolling.

Harry Styles in Egonlab at the Grammys

Styles' low-cut jumpsuit was one of the most talked about looks of the night. Styled by Harry Lambert, the harlequin-patterned romper was made from Swarovski crystals. It was a nod to the gaudy, embellished classic rock jumpsuits favoured by Mick Jagger or David Bowie in the '70s, and reminded us that there is life beyond the suit.

Margot Robbie in Vivienne Westwood at the London Barbie premiere

Throughout the Barbie press tour this past summer, Margot Robbie and her stylist Andrew Mukamal meticulously recreated iconic Barbie looks in life size measurements. One of the most opulent moments came in London, when Robbie wore a custom baby pink Vivienne Westwood gown inspired by the limited-edition 'Evening Enchantment' Barbie doll. While we've seen 'method dressing' before (last year, Zoë Kravitz infused her Batman red carpet looks with feline motifs as a nod to her character, for example) Robbie and Mukamal raised the bar. 

Cardi B in Dilara Findikoglu at the MTV Video Music Awards

Cardi B has never shied away from a dramatic fashion moment, though she is typically wearing archival MuglerBalenciaga or Schiaparelli. This year, however, she turned her hand at platforming smaller, independent designers. One of the more dazzling examples was the Dilara Findikoglu dress worn to the MTV Video Music Awards. Styled by Kollin Carter, the gown was made entirely of silver hairpins. "I have to be creative with everything, with my clothes, with my pictures, everything," Cardi said at the event.

Jared Leto in Specialty Costumes and Props (SCPS) at the Met Gala

While most of the Met Gala guest list chose to honour Karl Lagerfeld's legacy (the theme for this year's event) with pearls, tweed and even a number of gray wigs, Jared Leto went in a decidedly different direction. His Choupette costume, designed by custom props and costumes company SCPS, was the defining outfit of the evening. For most people on the steps that night, Leto's identity was a complete surprise until his grand reveal. Dressing as Lagerfeld's beloved cat was unexpected, unhinged and completely brilliant. 

Fan BingBing in Christopher Bu at Cannes Film Festival

Fan Bingbing made a splash at the Cannes Film Festival this year in several memorable looks, but it was a Christopher Bu gown that impressed the style press the most. Its ornate tigers and bamboo forest print was rendered in a style reminiscent of traditional Chinese paintings. The actor and her stylist Wish Gui utilized this moment on the world stage to shine a spotlight on Bu and other smaller Asian designers such as Sohee Park and Chung Thanh Phong.

Anne Hathaway in vintage Valentino at the British Fashion Awards

Anne Hathaway's archival Valentino look, styled by Erin Walsh, was not only sustainable, it offered a couture spin on carb-loading. "Valentino designed it thinking about spaghetti," the label's co-founder, Giancarlo Giammetti, told Vogue. Hathaway, meanwhile, paired it with a cheesy grin. "I've always dreamt of being pasta," she said. 

Jennifer Lawerence in Dior and flip flops at Cannes Film Festival

The glitz and glamour of Cannes can be overwhelming, but one look in particular acted as a balm for the soul - and the soles. Styled by Jamie Mizrahi, Jennifer Lawrence subverted the red carpet rule book by pairing a classic red Dior princess gown with comfy black flip flops. While she walked down the hallowed steps at the festival's red carpet, her casual sandals peeked out from under her hemline in a moment that was hearteningly human.

Sienna Miller in Schiaparelli at Vogue World

These days, the preferred method for announcing a celebrity pregnancy is usually on a runway or a red carpet. Sienna Miller was no different, debuting her baby bump spectacularly at Vogue World this September. It was another stellar moment from stylist Harry Lambert, who selected an ethereal, puff-ball Schiaparelli two-piece that perfectly framed Miller's bump. 

Riz Ahmed in Prada at the Oscars

While he wasn't quite shirtless (á la Timothée Chalamet on the same red carpet in 2022) Riz Ahmed did microdose a bare chest at this year's Oscars. If a Swarovski-spangled jumpsuit isn't quite your thing, Ahmed and his stylist Julie Ragnolie gave a masterclass in playful suiting with a Fall-Winter 2023 Prada look. Alongside a flash of skin, the jewel of Ahmed's outfit was a glorious pink Shetland wool cardigan shirt peeking out from underneath his blazer, complete with an exaggerated '70s khaki-coloured collar.

Rihanna in Schiaparelli at the Golden Globes

Rihanna might have missed the red carpet at this year's Golden Globes, but that didn't stop her from being one of the awards ceremony's best dressed attendees. Styled by her longtime collaborator Jahleel Weaver, Rihanna's custom black velvet Schiaparelli look was pure romantic, old Hollywood glamour. With a giant puffy shawl and matching velvet elbow gloves, she made a convincing case for being fashionably late.