As the saying goes, beauty is pain. But one hasn’t experienced true sartorial suffering until he or she has broken bones just to zip up an outfit. Just ask Nicole Kidman, who experienced the injury on the set of Moulin Rouge in 2001. The actress was reportedly so obsessed with whittling down her waist that she encouraged her dressers to tighten her character’s signature corsets until one finally aggravated an injury caused by falling off a trapeze in an earlier scene. “I had this thing that I wanted to get my waist down to 18 inches, which Vivien Leigh had on Gone with the Wind and I was just like, ‘tighter, tighter!’” she said of the accident, which ultimately halted production for two weeks. But the show must go on, and Kidman ended up filming many scenes of her Academy Award-nominated performance as a tragic showgirl from a wheelchair.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time that Kidman, who turns 53 this week, has indulged in fashionable extremes. Although a Hollywood fixture since 1990's Days of Thunder–and more recently a small screen fixture with her role as Celeste Wright in Big Little Lies–the Australian actress ascended to the A-list at the 1997 Academy Awards, when she wore a John Galliano for Dior chartreuse gown, reportedly worth 2 million dollars. But the iconic look was only one in an off-screen arsenal which has included a rolodex of glamour, including the asymmetrical black gown by Jean Paul Gaultier she wore in 2003 while accepting an Oscar for The Hours (in which she wore a realistic prosthetic nose), a sleek tuxedo by Armani Privé at the 62nd BFI London Film Festival, and Calvin Klein By Appointment’s take on ballerina look at the 2017 premiere of her film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
This year alone she’s already added to her high fashion highlight reel with two unexpected, sculptural silhouettes from the Armani Privé Fall 2018 collection. Short hair or long, clad in a rainbow of color or draped in black, decked out in jewels or au natural, over the course of 60 roles Kidman has proved she can play any character she wants—but our favorite will always be red carpet standout.