Jennifer Lawrence Provides a Lesson in Sheer Dress History at the Oscars After Parties

Did Jennifer Lawrence wear a sheer gown to the Oscars After Party circuit? Well, yes—but that fact may not surprise you. Just about everyone is wearing sheer (if not outright transparent) gowns as of late. Yet Lawrence’s white gown was no simple act of trend-hopping. It’s not only a landmark piece of 1990s haute couture, but the garment also harkens back to a time in the late 1700s when sheer fabrics were all the rage.

Lawrence’s frock is from Givenchy fall 1996 couture, the second and final couture collection designed for the house by John Galliano before he was appointed to Dior. Made in sheer silk organza and embellished in white clovers, the empire-waist gown comes with a matching bubble-sleeve jacket. Kate Moss (something of a foremother of the sheer dress trend) originally wore it on Galliano’s runway.

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As inspiration for the collection, Galliano turned to one of his favorite corners of fashion history: the incroyables and merveilleuses, a subculture of French post-revolution aristocrats who shocked the country by indulging in a streak of hedonistic partying and ornate dressing. The women, known as the merveilleuses, particularly courted controversy for often wearing semi-transparent fabrics. There gowns were often so sheer it was said they were made of “woven air.” Occasionally, they were even known to wet their dresses with water for the full effect.

Galliano first found inspiration from the incroyables for his 1984 Central Saint Martins graduate collection that put him on the map—and he has returned to the period not only for this 1996 collection but throughout his career. Galliano’s time at Givenchy was short, but a resounding success. He was appointed head of Dior soon after his last couture collection bowed, and was replaced at the house by Alexander McQueen (you may recall Zendaya recently wore a piece from McQueen’s Givenchy era).

Lawrence, of course, has been a longtime Dior ambassador, but only was greeted into the fold after Galliano’s shocking 2011 exit from the house. Interestingly, she seemed to have fashion history on her mind last night. At the Oscars ceremony, she wore a Dior Couture gown from the spring 2024 collection that was directly inspired by one of Christian Dior’s designs from the 1950s.

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