Talented actress, striking beauty and fashion icon: the three things which instantaneously come to mind when one thinks of London born actress, Keira Knightley. The accomplished actress has proven her talent in a number of roles which have undoubtedly made her one of the most respected young starsof our generation. Not only known for her acting prowess however, the 29-year-old has also won the hearts of many a fashionable fellow and has become a designer darling, palling it up with the likes of Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld, along the way.
Although it almost seemed like Keira was always destined for stardom (with parents like actors Sharman Macdonald and Will Knightley) she began young and had to work at honing her craft in order to become what we now know today. The same can be said for her fashion. Unfortunately, the young Brit did not get off to a very good start, and surprisingly, she still gets it wrong sometimes! Let me take you through her fashion journey and show you how she evolved into the beauty that she is today.
And for the sake of chronology, I’m going to start right at the onset and work my way through beginning with 16-year-old Keira in 2001. Here, the young starlet made her red carpet debut at the ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ premiere and, to everyone’s dismay, it was atrocious. Granted, she was only 16, but there is no excuse for this severe lack of taste! I’m going to take a leaf out of Drake’s books and ‘start from the bottom’ with those God-awful flip-flop inspired heels and horrific boot-cut leather pants to match. Amazingly, it got even worse from there, with a completely sheer, black laced top revealing every inch of the teen’s stomach – at least she’s wearing a bra. The hair and make-up are also terrible with the make-up being pale, the blush too pink and her hair just too blah. Have a look for yourself:
Knightley continued her dodgy path in 2002 at her own premiere for ‘Bend It Like Beckham’. This was her first role that grabbed media attention, but unlike her fantastic acting reviews, the same cannot be said for her style. Granted, it’s an improvement, but she is still far, far off the mark. Again, Keira chose a black, sheer number showing that she had not learned from her first mistake. It is slightly better, but the plunge is too low and she is showing off too much of her stomach. Her hair and make-up does look pretty on the bright side.
2003 was a year of ups and downs. Although still making numerous atrocities, Keira finally began to show promise during the year – a welcome change! She did begin horrifically yet again, however, with a combination of tasteless, stomach-less, tops, ill-fitting corsets and boot-cut jeans… We get that you have amazing abs, but it’s style that we want to see, not your stomach! Needless to say her ensembles were getting a bit tiresome at this stage.
Fortunately, she then began to show us a glimpse of what she could do, beginning with these two looks. The first is merely OK and has a lot left to be desired, but compared to what we’ve seen so far it is a step in the right direction (it is kind of like a 12 year old’s Christmas outfit though). The second look, however, is the first in which we can she the beauty that graces our screens today. Here, at the ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean‘ afterparty, Keira looks pretty in an understated, flowy white gown with simple embellishment along the bodice. Paired with her barely-there make-up, pulled up hair and perfect accessories it is by far the best that the star has looked so far.
Following this path to success, Keira continued to show signs of improvement in 2004. She definitely took a step back from the white gown above, but all in all was a better than before. This year, she seemed to begin to find herself and between keeping it pretty and edging up her look, but she still had not found a look which was quite right. The look on the left is pretty, but from the waist down is horrible and the dress on the right is a bit too tight and just not that nice. All in all she made some steps in the right direction though so I can only be happy with her 2004 style chapter:
Although I did say that she hadn’t 100% hit the nail on the head as of yet, I do think that her outfit at this Asprey event was pretty damn close – she looks beautiful (asides from the horrific shoes).
The next stage of Keira’s fashion career is a controversial one, but for me it’s a backwards step on her behalf. This is the stage which I like to call, “The Posh Totty Phase.” In 2005, Keira decided to stray from the demure, elegant path which she was beginning and veer into the realm of Golden Goddesses. Here, she tries to be more sexy by delving into fake tan and long blonde hair. While succeeding in maintaining a fashionable appearance and looking gorgeous, I just don’t think that it’s right for her. I don’t deny that she looked beautiful, but compared for what was to come it wasn’t the path which I would choose for our star in the making. She is only 20 though and let’s face it, what young girl doesn’t want to feel sexy at that age?
(Sidenote: she also found a bizarre obsession with ugly black-cropped jackets and ill-suited accessories).
Matthew Williamson (left) and Calvin Klein (right).
I do think that she absolutely nailed it in the black fitted gown below though.
Hervé Leger (left and right).
Changing her style YET AGAIN Keira decided to ditch the sex appeal look and revert to a more elegant aesthetic the year later, but to continue with the trend of the article thus far, didn’t kick off to a good start. Let’s begin with one of her most famous gowns; the melted gold inspired Gucci gown that she wore to the London premiere of ‘Pirates of The Caribbean II – Dead Man’s Chest’ in 2006. In this look, it seems that Keira is trying to bring more fashion into the fold while still remaining sexy. Alas, it is an out-in-out disaster. Of course, her face looks pretty and so do her arms and the dress to an extent, but the major fiasco here is the extensive lack of fabric in her chest region. As we’ve seen above, this is far from strange territory for the actress, but this has to be the worst for me. We know that she is naturally slim, but this look makes her look ill and is certainly not something to try and attain… It’s all just a bit too much:
The next look isn’t bad… just not good enough! The white dress is very pretty and it hints at the periodic style which fits Keira like a glove, but the black flower does the Chanel garb no justice. She does look whimsical and striking and most people seem to love this look, but all in all, it is all a bit meh for me.
Finally, however, also in 2006, her transformation to style icon began! Keira kicked off her long awaited renewal in a strapless Valentino gown at the Golden Globes and with gorgeous hair and make-up and (I can’t believe I’m going to say this) perfect accessories, the British beaut shone.
Finishing on her newly found high, all eyes were on the Oscar nominated star in her wine Vera Wang gown and although she didn’t take home the trophy, she cemented her place as a sophisticated, stylish woman. The gown itself was a bit rigid for me and I also don’t like the necklace. In fact, this look is not one of my favourites by a long shot, but there is no denying that it was a show-stopper at the time and was a look which got her noticed by fashion eyes everywhere.
Although 2006 brought us the beginning of her true evolution, it was 2007 which was the breakthrough in my eyes. In 2007, Keira varied her look from grungy, to pretty, to periodic, to new age and I loved every second of it. Asides from the odd clothing chest chasm, she hit a home run with every one, showing that she doesn’t just wear fashion, but she has style.
Rodarte (left and right).
Chanel (left and right).
Lastly, without a doubt my favourite look from the star so far. Keira is head-to-toe perfection in this Erdem ensemble – showing that some of the best designers are close to home.
2008 wasn’t quite as successful, with Keira donning some frumpy looks and others which were just a bit strange, but overall she maintained traipsing along with her head held high and her heels at the go. I’m going to start with my favourite of the year here and work my way down.
My without a doubt favourite is this stunning Chanel jumpsuit which is utterly timeless. In fact, the ever so stylish Sienna Miller was with Knightley at the same event and Keira knocked her out of the park – which definitely shows that she had found her fashion gustos!
Keira also stole the show with her next three looks, two of which are Chanel and one which is Valentino. She shows us how important it is to stay true to your favourite designers and truly became a fashion darling. If you guess which look is belonged to which fashion house you’ll get some brownie points 😉
On the left, we have Keira in a straight cut black mini at the New York Screening of ‘The Duchess’, followed by a goth-inspired strapped, black garb worn to win her Best Actress award at the Elle Style Awards, and finished off in a tiered, silver, metallic gown at the 2008 BAFTAs.
The looks that I didn’t quite like during 2008 are the three below. Unfortunatley, I just find the first two frumpy/lack-luster and the third, an Alexis Mabille Haute Couture frock, although technically fashionable, isn’t my cup of tea.
2009 appears to be a year in which the Hollywood star strayed from the spotlight with only two looks that I could come across. One of these was simple and chic at the Chanel Spring/Summer Haute Couture show in Paris and the other was a major flop, something which the star had seemed to get away from for a time, in a Chloe suit.
Another year which isn’t horrible, but isn’t anything to write home about either was 2010. She looks pretty with a new bob and has a general more grown-up heir about her, but something is lacking overall, although one look is breathtaking. Have a glance at her 2010 looks here:
Erdem (left) and Chanel (right).
The first is possibly her best of the two with a fresh, clean aspect adding some rejuvenation to Keira’s wardrobe which is just perfect and although the second is very nice, I think that it would look much better if it was tailored just a tad bit more to her body. A little bit of definition would go a long way in my opinion.
Valentino (left) and Rodarte (right).
Following up are these two looks. The first is just not nice, in any way, but particularly with all of the fuss going on in the top half of the gown and then the second is pretty, but a bit too snooze-inducing for my liking.
Her final 2010 look is one that I can’t decide on. I don’t know whether it is sexy and sophisticated in a way which only Keira could pull of or whether there’s a tad bit too much going on for the brunette beauty. What do you think?
In 2011 she once again found her footing and showed us how it’s done with an array of modern and vintage-inspired pieces. Beginning with these two stunning nudes which illustrate how to do grand, couture and give a more sexy silhouette in the same fashion genre. These are by far my two most beloved of her 2011 looks:
Valentino (left) and Elie Saab (right).
The looks above were followed by two much more modern ensembles, one of which is clean cut and geometric and the other which has a bold, modern print, something which we rarely see the now style-queen in:
Roksnada Ilincic (left) and Mary Katrantzou (right).
The last look which I’m not 100% about is this head-to-toe black ensemble in 2012 which is pretty, but I feel is a tad bit overdone. I think that with a different pair of shoes instead of the suede the Nina Ricci dress would be that little bit better.
Now, I know this is going to sound just a tad bit crazy, but between the years of 2012-2014 there is not one outfit of Keira’s that I found which I do not like, scratch that – love (asides from what the look above of course)! I don’t know if she got a new stylist or sacked the old one and decided to go solo, but everything that she wore was impeccable. So, instead of talking about them and breaking them down, I’m just going to show you my favourite Keira Knightley looks of the past three years. Yes, there may be quite a few, but trust me, they’re worth a look.
Erdem (left) and Valentino (right).
Elie Saab (left) and Burberry (right).
Erdem (left), Valentino (right).
Chanel, Chanel, Chanel!
And Chanel again…!
Simone Rocha (left).
So there you have it, the red carpet style evolution of the fabulous Keira Knightley (yes I know that there are some looks not from the carpet… I just couldn’t help myself!). It’s pretty needles to say, but Keira has 100% earned her status as a fashion icon, she is the epitome of style, class, chic and that little edge that sends her above the rest.
As always, let me know what you think of the article by liking, commenting or SHARING it! Thank you all for your support 🙂
For more style evolutions check these out:
Emma Watson: Red Carpet Evolution.
Emilia Clarke: Red Carpet Ready.
Margot Robbie: Red Carpet Ready.
Make sure to check out my new tumblr also 😉