A Look at Claire Danes’s Best Red Carpets From Grunge ’90s Teen to Met Gala Princess

Claire Danes is such Hollywood royalty, it’s easy to forget she got her start back in 1994 on a teen drama. My So-Called Life was no normal teen soap, however, but a highly-celebrated show that led to a Golden Globe win and an Emmy nominated for Danes, quickly cementing her place in the new generation of Hollywood stars. Soon, after her appearance as Juliet in Baz Luhrmann’s cult classic Romeo + Juliet, Danes became a bonafide member of the acting set, and she started dressing the part as well, attending premieres and events in her best Y2K looks. As the years passed, Danes met and became friends with designers like Zac Posen and Narcisco Rodriguez, relationships that served her well on the red carpet. She got her sartorial footing, gravitating toward simple and chic style, with a touch of sparkle here and an unexpected element there. Now, after three decades in the business, Danes has absolutely mastered the art of red carpet dressing, and it’s mostly Valentino that puts her in sequined-covered, colorful frocks, though she does often look toward other designers like Prada, Lanvin, and Balmain to mix it up. So, in honor of Danes’s 45th birthday, we’re taking a look at 30 years of great looks, to really track how the actress grew up on the red carpet to become the style star she is today.

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Danes’ vintage Balmain dress was fairly unassuming from the front, but a look over her shoulder revealed a gorgeous, crisscrossed back detail.

2023: Tribeca Film Festival; Full Circle Premiere

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The actress covered her baby bump in a pink, embellished Lanvin dress to attend the premiere of her miniseries, Full Circle, alongside her husband, Hugh Dancy, at the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival.

2023: Golden Globe Awards

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When this Giambattista Valli fall 2022 haute couture gown originally walked the runway, it was completely sheer, but Danes added a lining to the gown for the Golden Globes red carpet.

2022: Fleishman Is In Trouble Premiere

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Danes tapped her longtime friend Zac Posen to design this waterfall-like gown for the premiere of her Hulu show, Fleishman Is In Trouble.

2022: “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” Met Gala

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The Met Gala favorite wore a light yellow Lanvin gown with a lace bodice and ruffled hem to the event in 2023.

2022: Downton Abbey: A New Era Premiere

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Danes supported her husband in a red hot, lace Prada gown with a black leather belt at the premiere of the latest Downton Abbey film.

2022: The Essex Serpent Premiere

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This dragon-decorated Valentino dress was the perfect choice for Danes, considering she wore it to promote her show, The Essex Serpent.

2021: “In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion” Met Gala

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Danes loves a mohawk-like dress, and the white Prabal Gurung design she wore to the Met Gala in 2021 was definitely business in the front, and a party in the back.

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Look closely at the leopard print of this Valentino pre-fall 2018 dress and you will see it is made completely out of sequins.

2018: A Kid Like Jake Premiere

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Danes wore a ladylike, tea-length Rochas fall 2018 dress with floral embroidery to the premiere of her film in 2018.

2018: “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination” Met Gala

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The then-pregnant actress went colorful for the 2018 Met Gala, wearing a whimsical, yet still chic custom Marni design to the event.

2017: “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between” Met Gala

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Dane stepped out of her comfort zone a bit for the 2016 Met Gala, wearing an edgy, off-the-runway look from Monse fall 2017.

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The actress looked like a golden statuette in a gorgeous Schiaparelli dress at the 2016 Emmys.

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Danes went simple for the Tonys in 2016, opting to wear a deep blue, satin gown by Narciso Rodriguez.

2016: “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology” Met Gala

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While Zendaya may have shut down the Met Gala red carpet with her light up Cinderella dress in 2019, many were quick to mention that Danes did it first, with a Zac Posen design that also glowed.

2016: Screen Actors Guild Awards

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Danes wore for a chic and simple, color-blocked Stella McCartney dress to the 2016 SAG Awards.

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Magenta and navy may seem like an odd color combo, but they worked well when placed in rows of sequins together on Danes’s chain-linked Prada dress.

2015: “China: Through the Looking Glass” Met Gala

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Danes opted for a simple, yet edgy look at the 2015 Met Gala, wearing a Valentino fall 2014 couture dress to fashion’s biggest night.

2015: Screen Actors Guild Awards

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The actress embraced the undervalued color khaki green for the SAG Awards in 2015, attending the event in a Marc Jacobs spring 2015 design featuring a twister halter top and belted waist.

2015: Golden Globe Awards

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Danes made quite the statement on the Golden Globes red carpet in a patterned Valentino dress with a deep v-neckline and sheer panel on the chest.

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Originally, this Givenchy fall 2014 dress walked the runway in black, but Danes opted for a red version for the Emmys that year.

2014: “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” Met Gala

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The actress opted for simple elegance at the 2014 Met Gala, wearing an Oscar de la Renta dress featuring a burgundy velvet bodice and a voluminous pink skirt.

2014: Screen Actors Guild Awards

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Danes eschewed her usual Valentino or Zac Posen creation for a stunning, paillette-covered Vionette dress that turned her into a mermaid on the SAG red carpet.

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It seems that Danes gravitates toward sheer designs when they walk the runway, but almost always to opts to throw in an extra bit of lining for her own red carpet appearances. Take this Armani Privé fall 2013 dress, which still looks gorgeous, even if it’s not as see-through as originally designed.

2013: “Punk: Chaos to Couture” Met Gala

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This Oscar de la Renta dress really deserves to be observed up close, so one can appreciate the intricate beading that covered Danes’s entire body.

2013: Screen Actors Guild Awards

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Danes took home a SAG Award for her role in Homeland while wearing this one-shoulder Givenchy dress with an art deco embellishment down the side.

2013: Golden Globe Awards

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This Atelier Versace dress was all about the color, and Danes smartly kept the styling simple, just letting the dress, and her loose blonde waves, do all the work.

2012: “Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations” Met Gala

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Another deceivingly simple dress, this J. Mendel design benefits from a closer look to reveal its satin lapel and crystal embroidery.

2012: Golden Globe Awards

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The J. Mendel pre-fall 2012 dress Danes wore to the Golden Globes really needed to be viewed from the back.

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This patchworked, sequined Oscar de la Renta dress may be one of Danes’s best red carpet looks to date.

2011: “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” Met Gala

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A bronzed Danes attended the 2011 Met Gala in a beautifully simple gold Calvin Klein design.

2011: Screen Actors Guild Awards

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While usually stars don’t wear prints on the red carpet, Danes proved there’s nothing wrong with some florals with this teal, belted Louis Vuitton dress.

2011: Golden Globe Awards

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Clearly, Danes was on a Calvin Klein kick in 2011, because she also wore the designer to the Golden Globes that year.

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Danes sparkled in a completely-embellished, strapless Armani Privé dress at the Emmys in 2010.

2010: “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity” Met Gala

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The actress once again went simple for the Costume Institute Gala, wearing a gun metal Burberry dress to walk the Met steps.

2009: “The Model As Muse” Met Gala

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A year earlier, she opted for a bit more intrigue with an Armani Privé gown featuring an embellished skirt, and asymmetric neckline.

2009: Screen Actors Guild Awards

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Danes continued her undefeated red carpet streak at the 2009 SAG Awards in a slinky crimson Nina Ricci gown.

2008: “Superheroes: Fashion And Fantasy” Met Gala

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You really need to see the edgy, cutout back of Danes’s Narcisco Rodriguez in order to truly appreciate the design.

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And the same goes for the Azzaro dress the actress wore to her movie premiere a year earlier.

2007: “Poiret: King of Fashion” Met Gala

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The actress wore a silver Prada dress with a splash of orange in the center, and a slightly askew bow adornment to the Met Gala in 2007.

2005: “The House of Chanel” Met Gala

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Two years earlier, she opted for a more romantic look in a black lace Calvin Klein dress with a light pink organza bolero.

2005: Golden Globe Awards

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Danes attended the 2005 Golden Gloves in a pinkish-purple satin Valentino dress with a ’20s-inspired embroidered bodice.

2004: “Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century” Met Gala

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The Met Gala mainstay attended the 2004 event in a nude Alexander McQueen fall 2004 dress with body-defining cross work across the bodice and hips.

2003: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Premiere

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Danes wore a black Kimono-inspired dress with an exxagerated lapel and oversized sleeves to the premiere of the third Terminator film.

2003: CFDA Fashion Awards

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The actress supported her friend, Zac Posen, in one of his designs at the CFDA Awards in 2003.

2003: “Goddess: The Classical Mode” Met Gala

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Danes treaded into the waters of the Met Gala carefully, wearing a simple satin black dress with a chiffon skirt during her first appearance at the event in 2003.

2002: VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards

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The actress embraced color for the 2002 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards, pairing her dress of blues and greens with a pink bag and shoes.

2002: Igby Goes Down Premiere

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Danes wore a quirky, red zip-up top with a brown skirt to the premiere of her film in 2002.

1999: VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards

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The epitome of chic late-’90s style, Danes attended the 1999 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards in an ivory sequined tank top, satin ankle-length trousers, and low-heeled sandals.

1999: CFDA Fashion Awards

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Speaking of late-’90s style: this tight black, strapless dress Danes wore with sheer, fingerless gloves should be on the Wikipedia page for Y2K trends.

1998: Les Miserables Premiere

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Danes embraced the all-white look at the premiere of Les Miserables, attending in a long, embroidered skirt and short-sleeved turtleneck sweater.

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The actress suited up for the MTV Movie Awards in 1997.

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Danes attended her first Oscars in a simple, light blue satin skirt and matching top by Calvin Klein.

1996: Romeo + Juliet Premiere

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Clearly, Danes was inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s irreverent Romeo + Juliet when dressing for the film’s premiere. This look, with its dramatic silk jacket and gown and spiked updo, could easily fit right into the film.

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Danes wore a matching black and white set with a dizzying pattern for an appearance at the MTV Movie Awards in 1996.

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The actress, along with Winona Ryder, brought the fire to the Fire and Ice Ball in 1996, attending in a red lace teddy, black tights, and Mary Jane pumps.

1995: Golden Globe Awards

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The My So-Called Life star attended the Golden Globes in 1995 in a dress she could have pulled right off the show’s set.

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