Elle Fanning’s Red Carpet Evolution Is Truly Something To Behold

She’s been daring and dazzling for over a decade.

Taylor Hill/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Elle Fanning Best Red Carpet Moments Met Gala 2024

Based on her laundry list of epic looks, it’s hard to believe that Elle Fanning is only 26 years old. The actor first appeared along with her stylish sister Dakota in 2001’s I Am Sam, so one could say she’s been gracing red carpets almost as long as she could walk. Starting in her teens, Fanning quickly proved to be a fashion darling, forming relationships with the most iconic designers (Rodarte, Balmain, and Gucci among them) that she’s kept strong for over a decade. During that time, fans watched her personal style evolve into the star she is today. And while it seems like an impossible task to try and catalogue her best red carpet moments to date, it sure is fun to look back.

While the Emmy-nominated actor has shown an affinity for certain styles and details throughout the years — like floral embroidery, vintage silhouettes, and fairy tale-inspired aesthetics — what makes her such a fashion muse is her ability to take on so many different identities through her looks. In fact, she’s game for practically anything. One year she’s going over-the-top camp at the Met Gala, the next she’s channeling 1950s Old Hollywood glamour in couture Dior. And of course, she pulls it all off effortlessly.

You could create a mile-long list of her best Cannes looks alone (she’s a standout pretty much every year), and ditto her Met Gala moments. And that’s to say nothing of her chic off-duty style. But when it comes to her most memorable red carpet looks of all time, the 16 we’ve selected best tell the story of her ongoing evolution. Learn more about them all ahead, and see how the fashion muse has been inspiring us for the past 13 years.

Crystal + Lucy Awards, 2011

Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

The Somewhere star chose a turquoise tulle Marc Jacobs dress with floral appliqué for the awards show, which honors women in film.

Ginger and Rosa Premiere, 2012

Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Fanning attended the premiere of her film Ginger and Rosa at the BFI London Film Festival in a floral Rochas gown and cardigan, the same styling as was shown on the runway for the label’s 2013 Resort collection.

Critic’s Choice Film Awards, 2012

Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

Kickstarting her long relationship with Rodarte, Fanning wore a 70s-inspired, tiered dress by the brand for the 2012 event. Styled with loose waves and metallic shoes, the head-to-toe look was glamorous yet quirky.

British Independent Film Awards, 2012

Mike Marsland/WireImage/Getty Images

In an embellished pink Oscar de la Renta gown, the actor had her first major princess moment on the red carpet.

Met Gala, 2013

Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

In stark contrast to her previous streak of floaty, floral dresses, Fanning’s tie dye Rodarte dress with dramatic blue eye makeup marked a turning point in her fashion evolution.

Toronto International Film Festival, 2015

Amanda Edwards/WireImage/Getty Images

In a plunging black-and-white custom Emilio Pucci gown, the About Ray star looked effortlessly cool while still totally glamorous.

Trumbo Premiere, 2015

Frank Trapper/Corbis Entertainment/Getty Images

Fanning’s penchant for quirky styles was evidenced at the Los Angeles premiere for Trumbo, when she attended the red carpet in a tiered Gucci dress with an intricately embroidered bust and silk flower straps. The look was straight off the fashion house’s Spring/Summer 2016 runway.

Met Gala, 2016

Daniele Venturelli/FilmMagic/Getty Images

For the Met Gala’s "Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology" theme in 2016, Fanning embraced a much more minimalist moment in an ivory satin Thakoon gown paired with a super-long ponytail.

Cannes Film Festival, 2016

Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

In support of her role in Neon Demon, the actor attended the Cannes Film Festival in a dazzling Zuhair Murad gown, giving a nod to her love of floral, fairy tale-like styles.

Met Gala, 2019

Kevin Mazur/MG19/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Always game for some fashion experimentation, the Maleficent: Mistress of Evil star totally embraced the Met’s camp theme in an orange two-piece outfit by Miu Miu.

Cannes Film Festival, 2019

Toni Anne Barson/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Fanning’s fashion streak from the 2019 Cannes Film Festival was one of the most epic in the annual event’s long history, but her black and white Dior look was a dramatic standout and such a different aesthetic for the star.

The Great Premiere, 2021

Leon Bennett/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Fanning was an early proponent of the balletcore trend, as evidenced by her pink and black Atelier Versace gown, accessorized with an oversized black hair bow.

InStyle Awards, 2021

Amy Sussman/WireImage/Getty Images

In a gold and diamond chain link top and black skirt by Balmain, Fanning showed an edgier sexier style in comparison to her red carpet looks from the past.

Emmys, 2022

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The Great star channeled Old Hollywood glamour in a pink and black corseted gown, straight off Balmain's Spring/Summer 2022 runway. She completed the look with pinned curls and a diamond collar necklace and matching bow barrette by Bvlgari.

Cannes Film Festival, 2023

Doug Peters - PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images

Another fairy tale-inspired look, Fanning’s Alexander McQueen queen from the 2023 Cannes Film Festival is part princess dress, part armor. The custom creation was an adaptation of a look from the fashion house’s Fall 2023 runway and featured a hand-beaded silver bodice, its design inspired by an orchid.

Met Gala, 2024

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Fanning once again chose Balmain for her ethereal 2024 Met Gala look. The glass-like gown — which she accessorized with Cartier jewels — included sculptural bird details at the shoulder to create a fairy tale-inspired effect.