The Oscars can make a believer out of even the most red-carpet–ambivalent among us. It’s the biggest step-and-repeat affair of the year, and everyone knows that next to the Best Picture, the night is all about the dresses. But as the face of red-carpet dressing has shifted dramatically, so have the looks of its leading ladies. The landscape went from the midcentury’s world of largely custom confections (consider looks like Barbra Streisand’s spangled, see-through Arnold Scaasi pajamas of once-upon-a-time) to straight-off-the-runway numbers. Now the pendulum has swung back again, and starlets and their stylists are increasingly looking to designers to create custom pieces in the face of ever-rising stakes—and ever-more widespread scrutiny from social media, et al. But it’s not always the case.
Ahead of Sunday’s ceremony, we’re looking back at the runway debuts of 26 iconic Oscar red-carpet looks—before they made it to the limelight of the red carpet. Check Vogue.com Sunday night to see if this year’s noms, from Margot Robbie to Saoirse Ronan, pull from the runway for their red-carpet turns.