Movieline — September 1995
— by Courtney Lee
Beyond talent and beauty, the best defenses you can have as a movie star dealing with a media-drunk world are a sense of humor and a sense of style. If you’ve got those, nobody’s ever going to know the truth (that there’s ever so much less to you than meets the eye).
Winona Ryder has one of the two. Funny she isn’t, but she makes up for it with high grades in style. Ryder is a big follower of fashion, and she’s good at it. Who could have guessed, in the Beetlejuice days, when she wore Melrose-thrift-store-run-amok just like her less imaginative peers that the feisty, unknown little Winona would quickly blossom into a high fashion beauty?
But just two years later, the tiny-boned, ample-breasted star-in-the-making had herself boldly au courant in Giorgio di Sant’Angelo–he was the maven of the stretch-baby-mesh/Iycra look and she was one of the first to squeeze inside it. Then, with the acclaim for Heathers behind her, Ryder stepped out. While keeping a savvy grip on trends, she proceeded to master classic looks and prove herself brilliant at choosing which ones she belonged in. Her Paris beatnik/New York ultra-chic Audrey Hepburn look a la Agnes B. was a stunner. For her first big romance, with the as-yet-undistinguished Johnny Depp, she went haute couture in a long flirtation with Chanel. It was as if whatever chaos lay in her soul got expressed in her choice of men, while at the same time being disguised by what she wore with them.
Contradicting Depp’s over-the-top Edwardian look, Ryder showed up at the Golden Globe Awards in a version of what was by now her signature look: simple, dark, rich, highstyle right down to the Manolo Blahniks. This incarnation was a pure version of the ’50s movie star thing, Natalie Wood hair included, and it reflected an elegant defiance of Hollywood trashiness. Ryder gowned herself in duds that could have passed in Upper East Side Manhattan, and generally resisted the worst of Hollywood’s fashion weather. Which is not to say she took her eye off trends; the Azzedine Alaia number that seems a bit much now was the dress of its year, 1492–it was on the cover of Vogue and Nicole Kidman had one in black. With the advent of her second big romance, with rocker Dave Pirner, Ryder cut her hair gamine-short (a trend) but stayed ultra-classic-just look at the perfect lines of that velvet gown, and she has Pirner in Comme des Garcons. Even in the theoretically non-spotlight hours, Ryder is still straight out of Barneys.
The truest statement Ryder could make about her approach to style came at the Academy Awards ’94, when she was nominated for The Age of Innocence. Sure to get a blast of the spotlight, she went Hollywood glamour galore in her skinny, fringed vintage dress. But for all the glitz, the look was classy. Everybody voted her best-dressed at the Oscars. She’s best-dressed just about all the time.