It’s hard not to get teary-eyed while watching Halle Berry in her Vogue “Life In Looks” video. The actor herself gets visibly emotional while going through her iconic outfits and costumes. And how could she not? Berry has had one of the most megawatt careers in Hollywood—going from beauty pageants to winning an Oscar. Most recently, Berry made her directorial debut in Bruised, a film about a UFC fighter’s comeback in which she also stars.
Speaking of those humble beginnings, Berry first analyzes a black-and-white photograph of her in a strappy dress for the Miss World competition in 1986, which she won. “I was wearing my prom dress, couldn’t afford a real one,” says Berry. “That dress got me far. I became Miss Ohio. I became Miss Teen America and Miss USA in the world pageant in this dress.”
Fast forward eight years later in 1994, Berry was focused on entering Hollywood when she made an appearance at an event for pediatric AIDS in Atlanta, Georgia, wearing an itty-bitty cropped cardigan, high-waisted shorts, a big belt, and chunky boots. She notes that this moment was her “Atlanta look,” marked by her short coiff. Dubbed the “Halle Berry haircut,” it set her apart, intentionally, from other actors at the time.
In 1997, she starred in the cult classic, BAPS (short for “Black American Princesses”), alongside the late actor and comedian Natalie Desselle. In order to fit into her orange rubber zip-up suit, Berry had to “lather my whole body in talcum powder.” The next year, Berry played Dorothy Dandrige in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, a film about the first Black actor nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Berry had always felt a connection with the late performer, and describes the moment when Dandridge’s manager gave Berry a dress to try on.“It fit like a glove it didn’t need any alterations,” says Berry.
As Berry entered the ’00s, she also came into her Bond-era. Berry was now the bonafide star of Die Another Day alongside Pierce Brosnan—not simply a “Bond girl,” but, “very much his partner.” One of the most memorable scenes is when Berry steps out of the ocean in a sporty orange bikini that has now been solidified as one of her most recognizable looks.