"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (2024)

1.At the 2022 Black Adam premiere, Drew Afualo and her boyfriend Pili repped Samoa from head to toe. As a Samoan woman myself, I'm still obsessed with her dress with a tapa corset. This cloth is made from bark and is deeply significant in Polynesian cultures. Pili wore an ula fala (the red necklace) and an ie faitaga, which is often worn by men to formal events.

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (1)

2.This week, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan attended the Gold Gala, Gold House's annual event that celebrates Asian and Pacific Islander excellence. She wore a stunning Indian lehenga with jhumka earrings.

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (2)

3.According to designer Thai Nguyen, Kelly Marie Tran became the first person to wear a Vietnamese áo dài at the Oscars when she wowed on the 2022 red carpet. In a Facebook video, he said it took six artists to create the look.

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4.In 2016, Auli'i Cravalho performed a hula at the world premiere of Moana. The Native Hawaiian actor wore a hula skirt, lei po'o, and what seem to be dangling plumeria earrings.

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (4)

5.At the 2022 Met Gala, Vanessa Hudgens wore a mesmerizing black dress. On Instagram, she wrote, "I was so obsessed with this dress (Still am) for so many reasons. A. It was designed by a friend @jeremyscott who knows the real me B. The silhouette is actually historically correct for the Gilded Age theme C. I got to be the glamorous witch that I am and D. The puff sleeve pays homage to my Filipino heritage."

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (5)

6.Last year, American Idol winner Iam Tongi attended the Unforgettable Gala with a Tongan ta'ovala around his waist. The red necklace, called an ula fala, is made from pieces of pandanus fruit that are painted red.

7.At the 2021 premiere of Eternals, Kumail Nanjiani wore a Pakistani sherwani by the House of Umar Sayeed. He told The Hollywood Reporter, "I wanted to wear a sherwani because 1. They look awesome and 2. My costume in the film always reminded me of sherwanis." The actor called his mom, who gave him the names of three designers in Pakistan.

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (7)

8.At the 2021 Met Gala where the theme was "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion," Naomi Osaka stunned in a Louis Vuitton dress co-designed by her sister, Mari Osaka. The tennis star — who is Japanese and Haitian — wore an obi-style belt, print featuring koi fish, and bright colors reminiscent of the Caribbean.

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (8)

9.At the same Met Gala, Saweetie wore a custom Christian Cowan gown with a trailing cape that featured colors of the Black American Heritage flag on one side and colors of the Filipino flag on the other. "That's what makes me an American girl," she said.

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (9)

10.At the 2016 VMAs, Parris Goebel rocked a beautiful Polynesian dress. Designer Priscilla Ale told The Coconet, "Her inspiration was to go traditional Polynesian with a poppin' color and a tatau [tattoo] print to represent her Samoan heritage."

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (10)

11.In 2019, Priyanka Chopra was honored at the Marrakech International Film Festival for her work in cinema. According to Vogue India, she wore an ivory Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla sari "doused in mukaish work" and hand-embroidered with "sequins in a geometric jaali leitmotif."

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (11)

12.At the 2008 SAG Awards, Sandra Oh dazzled on the red carpet in a black and pink gown. According to E! News, the dress was a couture version of Korean hanbok.

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (12)

13.Dinah Jane attended the 2022 API Excellence Celebration in traditional Tongan clothing designed by Afa Ah Loo. On Instagram, she wrote, "This is a custom top made out of Tongan Ngatu. Traditionally this material is made from the bark of Hiapo or Mulberry Tree. Our ancestors passed this method down and mostly women hand make the Ngatu. It’s been a prized TREASURE (Koloa) of our ancestors and still is to this very day. It’s given at prestigious events that celebrate milestones of life and the essence of our people."

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (13)

14.In 2019, Tan France attended the Emmys in a sherwani by Varun Bahl Couture to represent his Pakistani heritage. According to the designer's website, the outfit was featured in Kensington Palace's Crown to Couture exhibit.

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15.Last year, Ali Wong — who is Vietnamese and Chinese — attended the Time 100 Gala in an áo dài and headpiece. On Instagram, designer Thai Nguyen thanked the actor "for this iconic moment representing the Vietnamese culture and the beauty of the áo dài."

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16.Last year, Richa Moorjani captivated at the premiere of the final season of Never Have I Ever. According to Vogue India, she wore an Amit Aggarwal ensemble: a lehenga, hand-embroidered blouse, and structured palla with geometrical patterns.

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (16)

17.At this week's Gold Gala, Simone Kessell wore a hei tiki (a neck pendant in the shape of a tiki). Both the pendant and her earrings are carved from pounamu, which is deeply significant to Māori people's culture and history, and can only be found in Aotearoa (New Zealand).

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (17)

18.In 2007, Janel Parrish attended the Bratz premiere in a blue dress with a mandarin collar inspired by her heritage. "I wanted to stay true to my Chinese roots," she told OK! Magazine. "Especially playing a Chinese character. Loved this look."

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19.At the 2021 Encounter premiere, Riz Ahmed wore a pink kurta by Prada. Though he was born and raised in London, he told the New York Times he was alienated at school due to his Pakistani heritage. Wearing a kurta at a movie event was an act of reclamation and an opportunity to subvert "Eurocentric and precolonial" constructs around masculinity.

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (19)

20.Last year, Oscar Kightley attended the premiere of Next Goal Wins. He wore a button-down shirt with Samoan tattoo designs, an ie faitaga, and an ula fala.

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (20)

21.And finally, Joy Crookes wore a beautiful lehenga to the 2020 Brit Awards. "It goes beyond representing Bangladeshi culture, it's representing myself," she told BBC. "I want to be able to feel like anywhere I put my foot, no one can question that I belong there. If I'm going to an award ceremony, I'm not going there to be someone else, I'm going there to be myself. And part of me is my culture."

"This Was An Emotional Appearance For Me": 21 Celebrities Who Wore Stunning Red Carpet Looks Inspired By Their Heritage (21)

Check out more API-centered content by exploring how BuzzFeed is celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! Of course, the content doesn't end after May. Follow BuzzFeed’s A*Pop on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube to keep up with our latest API content year-round.

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