Natalie Portman is the face of millennial cinema. From the late ’90s through the late ’00s, the actress starred in an array of generationally defining films, ranging from blockbusters (Star Wars episodes I, II and II), cult classics (V for Vendetta), twee-era indies (garden condition) and Tumblr favorites (Closer, Black Swan). A quick look at Natalie’s IMDB profile reveals the actress was the first of her ’80s-born cohort to win the Best Actress Oscar. What sets Natalie apart from the rest is her range. She’s a cinematic chameleon, choosing various roles and slipping seamlessly into each character: the intergalactic princess, the maniacal pixie dream girl, the troubled ballerina, the stonewashed pop star, or the chain-smoking first lady.
Natalie is also a bit of a style shapeshifter too. Throughout the 90s, the actress oscillated between the geek chic of Prada and the arty avant-garde of Jean Paul Gaultier. As a Star Wars princess from the year 2000, she wore cropped pants and tops. And in her era of indie film, she was decked out in lightweight boho-chic chiffons and proto-twee bib blouses. Beyond the personal, salient portrayals of Natalie have earned some of her protagonists a place in the annals of fashion. Think Black SwanIt’s Nina, swaddled in Yumiko leotards and leggings. Or Closeris Alice Ayres with pink hair. To mark the actress’ birthday, we take a look back at some of her most iconic outfits of all time.
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At the premiere of Might Aphrodite, 1995
Natalie landed her first film role at 13, playing Mathilda in Luc Bresson’s iconic thriller. Leon: the professional. Here, a year after the film’s release, Natalie attends one of her first red carpet events wearing a very age-appropriate accessory: the Fisher-Price Perfect Shot, a plastic film camera designed for ” little photographers. Cute!
Photo by Evan Agostini/Liaison
At the premiere of The English Patient, 1996
In striped sweaters, buttonholes and ties for men, Natalie was the princess of ’90s geek-chic, so it’s no surprise that she was one of the few in Hollywood to wear a piece (or two!) from Prada’s iconic AW96 collection. Here, she attends a red carpet premiere wearing a chartreuse dress of the “ugly-chic” release from the paradigm-changing Italian label. She also wears a pair of floral Mary Janes from the collectionwho were, at the time, nicknamed “the ugliest [shoes] in the world.” Even so, the 50 pairs made sold out immediately. Of course, Natalie grabbed a pair!
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
At the premiere of Everybody Says I Love You, 1997
From ugly-chic to avant-garde. A year after her stint at Prada, Natalie walked the red carpet in an arty look by the enfant terrible Jean Paul Gaultier. Specifically, a knit dress from the designer’s AW96 collection. We said Natalie has range.
Photo by Steve Eichner/Getty Images
At the premiere of Star Wars Episode I, 1999
In 1999, Natalie followed in the footsteps of Carrie Fisher, playing intergalactic royalty in the Star Wars prequel. The Phantom Menace. Here at the film’s premiere, the actress looks like the heavenly princess in sequins and silver chainmail.
In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, 2002
Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s really no debating whether the Star Wars prequels served them iconic looks. In the trilogy, Natalie plays the role of Queen Padmé Amidala, ruler of Naboo and bearer of many elaborate outfits. Aside from the intricate insignia, however, Padmé’s most iconic look is easily her Geonosis battle outfit. Composed of a crop top and low-rise pants, the look served Princess-Leia-meets-Lara Crofta perfectly Y2K homage to Natalie’s cinematic predecessor.
In Closer, 2004
Here it is: the wig that launched a thousand Halloween costumes. In 2004, Natalie starred alongside Julia Roberts, Jude Law and Clive Owens in the strangely exciting romantic drama Closer. In the most emblematic scene of the film, Natalie strips down to Clive’s slimy Larry wearing a candy pink wig. Despite the film’s lukewarm reception, Natalie’s colorful wig has earned a permanent place in pop culture history, becoming a staple of Halloween parties and Tumblr dashboards.
In Black Swan, 2010
Natalie dove a point– toe in the dance-horror pool with the 2010s Black Swan. The film was an instant Tumblr classic and today retains its cultural potency for his memorable moments as much as his magnificent costumes. Outside of work, Natalie’s Nina wears Yumiko bodysuits, knit shrugs and slouchy leggings. for her Swan Lake stage looks, costume designer Amy Westcott teamed up with the Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte to create the series of frothy feathered outfits seen in the BTS shots above. Truly iconic, but we’d expect nothing less from Natalie Portman.