To some, Oscar night is more about the fashion than the awards themselves. Much of the audience tunes in to see who looks fabulous, who takes the biggest risks, and--of course--who’s the most egregious fashion disaster. Of the latter, the infamous “swan dress” worn by the Icelandic pop singer Bjork at the 73rd annual Academy Awards on this day in 2001 is among the most notorious.
Bjork earned critical praise for her portrayal of Selma (writing in the New York Times, A.O. Scott called her performance “miraculous”) as well as the polarizing film’s only Oscar nomination, in the Best Original Song category. On Oscar night, the ever-quirky Icelandic singer turned heads by showing up on the red carpet in an outfit resembling a dead swan. Over a nude body stocking and above a large white tutu-like skirt, the swan’s neck was draped around Bjork’s shoulders like a shawl, with its head lying on her chest. Bjork took the stage to perform her nominated song, “I’ve Seen It All,” which lost in its category to Bob Dylan’s “Things Have Changed,” from Wonder Boys.
Other winners at that year’s Academy Awards, which were hosted by Steve Martin, were Russell Crowe (Gladiator) as Best Actor and Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich) as Best Actress. Steven Soderbergh won the Best Director award for Traffic over Ridley Scott, but Scott’s bloody Roman epic, Gladiator, was the Academy’s choice for Best Picture.