7 of Keira Knightley's most iconic outfits
From Y2K to twee, the actress is the 00’s unsung red carpet icon.
Photo by SGranitz/WireImage, Fred Duval/FilmMagic and David Livingston/Getty Images
Keira Knightley is the reigning queen of the period drama. Among modern favourites like Bend It Like Beckham and Love, Actually, the actress has brought a plethora of classic lit’s most beloved stories to the big screen, making timeless characters — Elizabeth Bennett and Anna Karenina, to name a few — completely her own. No easy feat. On-screen, Keira’s known for her opulent, elaborate period garb (corsets and all). Off-screen, she’s also a style icon in her own right, and one of the decade’s most underrated, in our opinion. At the turn-of-the-millennium, Keira embraced the low-rise like no other. By the end of the decade, along with stylist Leith Clark, she was pioneering haute-twee fashion in ethereal gowns by the likes of Chanel and Rodarte. Here, we take a look back at Keira’s most iconic outfits of the 00s.
At the Pirates of the Caribbean premiere, 2003
After playing Jules in British rom-com Bend It Like Beckham, Keira Knightley made her Hollywood breakthrough with Disney blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. To the 2003 film’s premiere, the actress wore an outfit of extremely Y2K (and SS22) proportions: ultra-cropped on top, majorly low-rise down below. Not only is the look iconic in its own right, it harkens back to Hollywood’s pre-stylist era, when celebrities wore good old jeans on the red carpet. We’d also be remiss not to mention Keira’s Tahitian pearl choker, which is, of course, a nod to the movie’s titular ship. It’s all in the details.
With Jamie Dornan in London, circa 2003
Keira and Jamie Dornan’s shared devotion to the low-rise: that’s true love. At the turn-of-the-millennium, the couple were papped around London wearing only the lowest-of-low-rise jeans — exposed boxers, thong, et al. While you’re here, take a swipe or two through the slider for some more Y2K relics, including checkerboard Vans, the Fendi Spy bag and a sneaky seatbelt belt.
At the Pirates of the Caribbean 2 premiere, 2006
In 2006, Keira returned to the Pirates franchise with the swashbuckling sequel Dead Man’s Chest. And she followed up her Black Pearl premiere look with — what else? — a naked dress. Designed by Gucci, the Grecian-style lamé halter gown featured a plunging neckline, one of Keira’s mid-00s style signatures.
In Atonement, 2007
This entry needs no introduction. Since it was committed to celluloid in 2006, Keira’s green Atonement dress has been voted “the greatest film costume ever,” spawned a zillion knock-offs, garnered an Oscar nom and even earned its own Wikipedia page. Over a decade later, the dress still resonates. Atonement costume designer Jacqueline Durran attributes its eternal pull to a “perfect storm of things”: its anachronistic silhouette (part 1930s, part 2000s), its beguiling green hue, its devastatingly low back and, of course, Keira, herself.
At the Venice Film Festival, 2007
Keira’s a Chanel girl through and through. Taking the reins from supermodel Kate Moss, the actress was appointed a brand ambassador in 2006, fronting its Coco Mademoiselle fragrance in a series ofcinematic television spots. Since, Keira’s been the face of Chanel on the red carpet too, wearing the house’s prim designs from TIFF to Venice and back again. Of all the actress’s iconic Chanel looks, this one sticks in mind: an intro to Keira’s twee era, wrapped in a pretty pink bow.
At the Atonement London premiere, 2007
In 2007, Keira revisited her much-loved plunging neckline; this time, on the Atonement red carpet and in an ethereal, rosette-bedecked gown by Rodarte. The mastermind behind Keira’s new haute-twee look was stylist Leith Clark, the founder and editor of 00s twee bible Lula.
At the Atonement LA premiere, 2007
At the next stop on Atonement’s premiere circuit, Keira wore another of Rodarte’s fairytale confections, this one from the label’s SS08 collection. Giving ballerina-lost-in-the-woods, the dress featured a distressed tulle skirt and a series of embroidered vines that snaked around the bodice and back. Naturally, Keira accessorized the look with a pair of cutesy Mary Janes and freshly chopped bangs. Twee, indeed!