Haute or Not

2011’s Best and Worst Dressed Stars: Nicki Minaj, Kardashians (Photos)

It was a year of fashion moments chic (Fannings in Rodarte!) and horrifying (Kardashians in fur vests!).

In a year filled with fashion moments both chic (Fannings in Rodarte!) and horrifying (Kardashians in faux fur vests!), 30 celebs stood out. From Ryan Gosling to Lindsay Lohan, Isabel Wilkinson rounds up the highs and lows.

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Best Dressed: Tilda Swinton

The star of We Need to Talk About Kevin is considered a hall of famer in our book. At the Golden Globes last January, Swinton challenged the typical model for red-carpet dressing, wearing instead a billowing shirt-dress by Jil Sander. She has also been a longtime champion of designer Haider Ackermann (she’s pictured with him at left) and is often seen in his jewel-colored draped silks.

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Best Dressed: Elle and Dakota Fanning

Thirteen-year-old Elle Fanning became a fashion-world darling last year, after her scene-stealing role in Somewhere. Shortly thereafter, she fell into the company of Laura and Kate Mulleavy, the sister design team behind Rodarte, and began to wear looks from their runway collection. This year, she appeared in the front row at their Spring/Summer 2012 show alongside her older sister, Dakota; both wore a look from the last collection.

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Best Dressed: Kate Bosworth

Kate Bosworth is versatile when it comes to fashion: she can wear her hair in a French twist with an off-the-shoulder bell skirt one minute at the LACMA Gala—and the next, channel the future in a Proenza Schouler ensemble (left) she wore to celebrate the 2011 CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund finalists.

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Best Dressed: Emma Stone

Emma Stone burst onto the fashion scene last January at the Golden Globe Awards, where she wore a slim-fitting nude Calvin Klein dress (left). Since then, she has appeared on the red carpet in a series of head-turning looks: at the BAFTA Awards last February, she wore an iconic one-shouldered dress from Lanvin’s Spring 2011 collection; she opted for a custom black-and-white floral rose print Lanvin dress for the Met Ball in May, and she chose a gold goddess gown from Lanvin Resort 2012 for Glamour’s 2011 Women of the Year Awards in November.

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Best Dressed: Hailee Steinfeld

It’s been quite the year for young Hailee Steinfeld, who gained style points following her nomination for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award last year for her role in True Grit. She turned heads at last year’s SAG Awards, where she wore an orange-and-pink-striped Prada gown. This year, she became the face of Miu Miu’s Fall campaign and stunned in several red-carpet looks, including dresses by beloved British designer Mary Kantrazou, a sparkling suit by Louis Vuitton, and a Chanel cocktail dress in October.

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Best Dressed: Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling was the sexiest man of 2011. That is, by popular demand. After People gave its annual honor to Bradley Cooper, Gosling fans took to the streets to picket the snub. And Gosling is easily the year's best dressed, too: he has stood out from the crowd in impeccably tailored suits, fitted jackets, graphic T-shirts, and a certain amount of swagger. Even his character in Drive defined a specific style this year: lace-up boots, tight jeans, gloves, and a silk racing jacket embroidered with the image of a scorpion.

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Best Dressed: Rooney Mara

In the past year, we’ve seen Rooney Mara transform from wide-eyed coed in The Social Network to the anorexic Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Mara has transformed for the role, off camera, too: long after filming had wrapped, Mara appeared in character at red-carpet appearances this year, with blunt black bangs and pale skin. At the film’s London premiere on Dec. 12, Mara showed up in a white Fall 2011 Givenchy Couture gown, and stole the show in a Prabal Gurung Spring 2012 dress at the film’s New York premiere later that week.

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Best Dressed: Colin Firth

Colin Firth jumped into the fashion spotlight for his starring role in Tom Ford’s meticulously styled film A Single Man in 2009. And he has continued his reign in a series of Tom Ford suits—such as the tuxedo he chose to wear at the Costume Institute’s gala last May—in 2011.

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Best Dressed: Brian Williams

News legend Brian Williams has had a good year. His new show, Rock Center, debuted on NBC in October to strong ratings, and beyond the newsroom, he remains one of the best-dressed men on the streets of New York in perfectly tailored suits, solid ties, Oxford loafers, and trench coats.

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Best Dressed: Blake Lively

Blake Lively has had quite a fashionable 2011. During the royal visit to California in July, she gave Kate Middleton a run for her money at an event hosted by BAFTA in Los Angeles, where she wore a diaphanous lavender Marchesa gown. And as the face of Chanel, she appeared in several dresses by Uncle Karl on the red carpet: at the Met Gala in May, for example, she opted for a Grecian-draped dress with an illusion bodice and silver embroidered paillettes from Chanel Couture’s Fall 2009 collection. She hosted a dinner for Chanel in Antibes later that week, and on June 17 she wore a white sheer Chanel Couture dress (left) to the Los Angeles premiere of her film Green Lantern.

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Best Dressed: Kate Middleton

The Duchess of Cambridge–to-be engineered the biggest style mystery of the year when she refused to reveal the designer of her wedding dress before the big day. When she finally alighted from the Goring Hotel in a dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, the wedding’s billion viewers let out a collective gasp. As The Daily Beast’s Robin Givhan wrote at the time of the dress: “It did not alter everything that defines modern femininity. And it did not force a reassessment of what it means to be elegant, sophisticated or sexy. But it was a gasp-inducing, slightly sexy gown worn by a beaming bride. It put a giddy smile on the young prince’s face and caused him to seemingly murmur: You look fabulous. And really, what more can one expect or hope for a wedding dress to do?” Middleton appeared later that night in another dress by Burton for McQueen (left), and since the wedding has stunned in several stylish looks as she toured North America and conducted official business as Duchess.

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Best Dressed: Pippa Middleton

Kate Middleton was a style sensation at the royal wedding, but it may have been her little sister, Pippa, who stole the show. Also in a dress by Burton for McQueen, Pippa looked so good she became an overnight heartthrob for single men around the world. Since then, she has worn several stylish ensembles on the streets of London—and kept the fashion world rapt with attention, guessing what she’ll wear next.

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Best Dressed: Giovanna Battaglia

An Italian stylist for W magazine, Giovanna Battaglia has become a celebrity on street-style blogs and has developed her own loyal fan base. Now there’s even a blog, I Want to Be a Battaglia, which follows Battaglia and all of her glorious fashion choices—from vintage to Versace, from polka dots to plunging necklines—but always, her signature studded Valentino pumps.

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Best Dressed: Elizabeth Olsen

Mary-Kate and Ashley’s younger sister, Lizzie, became a girl-to-watch this year after she appeared in Sundance darling Martha Marcy May Marlene. And, following in the footsteps of her older sisters, who have helmed the lucrative fashion label The Row, Lizzie has appeared in a series of memorable red-carpet looks this year. She wore a black Alexander McQueen dress to the New York Film Festival premiere of the film. “I get their opinion when it comes to clothes,” she has said of her older sisters. “Seriously, I wear [my snow boots] when I’m walking just from the subway, and I’ll go see them and they’ll say, “What boots are you wearing? Maybe we need to get you some different boots. And then when you see them, they’re out in the snow in some 7-inch platforms.”

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Best Dressed: Gwyneth Paltrow

This year, Gwyneth Paltrow has had several red-carpet hits, especially the midriff-bearing Emilio Pucci gown she wore at the Emmy Awards in September—before it even hit the runway. Yet there was something undeniably chic about the thick Celine sweater she wore out with her kids in New York, which she paired with skinny jeans and metallic Lanvin flats.

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Best Dressed: Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama became a style icon almost as quickly as she unpacked her suitcases in the White House—and she continued her style reign in 2011. She began with a bang, wearing a red Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen dress to the Chinese state dinner last January, and ended it on a high note last week, wearing a blue silk lamé Rodarte dress to the White House’s Hanukkah reception. In between, there have been several triumphs: a patterned Marc Jacobs dress to a Christmas event at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., a strapless blue Vera Wang dress to the Kennedy Center honors, and a crimson Azzedine Alaïa dress to a dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in October.

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Best Dressed: Florence Welch

The lead singer of Florence + the Machine was a vision in Gucci this year. In June, it was announced that the couturier would outfit the 24-year-old singer for her entire North American tour. All summer long, she appeared in a series of diaphanous, jewel-toned Gucci dresses. “When Florence first came onto the scene, I was captivated by her eccentric style and her willingness to dare,” said Gucci’s creative director, Frida Giannini.

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Best Dressed: Carla Bruni

As a faithful client of Christian Dior, the French first lady served up yet another year of kitten heels, pillbox hats, and bracelet-length sleeves—even with a new baby in tow.

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Best Dressed: Helena Bonham Carter

God save Helena Bonham Carter, who showed up at several events this year in a ball of tulle, a corset, mismatched shoes, sunglasses, off-kilter hats, and a nest of hair. Call her the anti-Middleton, holding down with a little grunge in an era when British girls are cleaning up. As former Tatler editor Catherine Ostler told us, “Even a year ago, everyone wanted to look like Kate Moss…Now they’re over it and want to look peachy-Middleton clean.” Trends may change, to be sure, but one thing always stays the same—and that’s Helena Bonham Carter’s delightfully eccentric style.

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Best Dressed: Nicki Minaj

If anything, the “Super Bass” singer proved this year that when it comes to fashion, creativity is far from dead. Minaj descended on New York Fashion Week in September, appearing at the Prabal Gurung show with cotton-candy hair and a necklace in the shape of a giant pretzel—and was a ball of bright color as she sat next to Anna Wintour at Carolina Herrera’s Spring 2012 show—in an armor of multicolored cotton balls, neon-green fishnet stockings, pink tights, and bright orange wedges.

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Best Dressed: Anna Dello Russo

As editor of Vogue Nippon, Anna Dello Russo has skyrocketed to fame. And she has secured her place among the pantheon of fashion icons followed ruthlessly by street-style bloggers, as she trolls the streets in impossibly chic designs. As she told The Daily Beast last year, “Fashion is everywhere. Everywhere! Flowers are fashion to me. The sky is fashion. My garden is fashion.”

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Best Dressed: Charlotte Casiraghi

The Princess of Monaco can usually be found in jodhpurs and polo shirts, as she is officially dressed by Gucci every time she’s on a horse—the design house even launched an exclusive riding collection for Charlotte in June. But when she’s not in the stables, she’s equally well dressed, wearing several designs by Gucci, such as this purple-and-orange front-knot dress she chose for a dinner in Venice last spring.

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Worst Dressed: The Kardashian Family

She may have been married in a Vera Wang gown, but the newly divorced Kim Kardashian is still worst dressed. The Kardashian family, from 56-year-old Kris Jenner to 14-year-old Kylie, seems to have single-handedly contributed to sales of faux-fur vests, leather pants, spandex dresses, and OTKs (Over the Knee boots, duh) in 2011. But America doesn’t care: Kim Kardashian and her clan launched a line for QVC this year—called K-Dash by Kardashian—which quickly sold out.

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Worst Dressed: Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart may be decked in some of the best dresses—from Proenza Schouler to Balmain—but all she proves is that the best accessory is a smile. She lands on our worst-dressed list because she hardly ever wears one—and instead gives off a belabored grimace when she has to dress up, letting us know she’d really rather be somewhere else. We docked extra points for her complete lack of jewelry and her Vans or Converse sneakers, which are never far away when she has to do the red carpet in heels.

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Worst Dressed: Justin Bieber

Love him, hate him, think he really fathered Mariah Yeater’s baby—one thing’s for sure: Justin Bieber wears fancy pants. But whether he’s wearing Yves Saint Laurent Mojave Leopard Print Laceup sneakers, granny glasses, baggy skinny jeans, or a neck full of gold chains, it’s never quite right. But as he tells us, maybe one day he’ll redeem himself. After all, “Never Say Never”!

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Worst Dressed: Stacy Keibler

George Clooney’s 32-year-old girlfriend, Stacy Keibler, is a former professional-wrestling champion—and has the body to match. But unfortunately, she just wears the wrong things. Necklines that plunge too low, dresses just a touch too short, or, in the case of this dress, dresses with just a few tassels too many.

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Worst Dressed: Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan has spent the year skirting the law—literally. Her fashion in 2011 was defined by several inappropriate outfits in court, from a leather dress to a black tanktop cut down-to-there to a skintight minidress—but nothing was as offensive as this pair of denim cutoffs with high-heeled sandals.

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Worst-Dressed: Courtney Stodden & Doug Hutchison

There was no greater train wreck—fashion or otherwise—in 2011 than that of Courtney Stodden, the 17-year-old sex kitten who married 51-year-old actor Doug Hutchison. Their union incited public outrage, and Courtney’s porn-star chic brought the year’s terrible fashion to a new low.