With Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week fast approaching we thought it would be a perfect time for Lives of Style to highlight a celebrity who exemplifies the best of style, fashion and elegance–always receiving rave reviews for her impeccable red carpet gowns and happens to be the first South African to win an Academy Award for Best Actress – Charlize Theron.

Charlize recently made a big splash at the 2012 Golden Globes with her stunning pale pink Dior gown, with Cartier jewelry and Givenchy heels.  Despite losing out to Michelle Williams for the Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy award, Charlize did make the top of several best dressed lists–including ours, for her stunning look, reminiscent of the ”old Hollywood” elegance, but with an alluring modern twist.

Over the years Charlize’s wide-ranging red carpet choices have made her one of the few celebrity fashionistas who seldom disappoint. Her striking ensembles frequently conjure up memories of the classic Hollywood era as she appears to be inspired by silver screen beauties such as Marlene Dietrich and Bette Davis.

Since becoming a spokesman for Dior, Charlize might have become synonymous with the sheer elegance of the Dior gowns she frequently wears, but one of her most iconic and unforgettable gowns has to be the dazzling and body-hugging beaded dress by Tom Ford from his final collection for Gucci, which Charlize wore when she won the Academy Award in 2003.   The unforgettable gown, with flawless diamond beading, will probably go down in history as one of the best fashion choices by an actress on her night of Oscar victory.  Charlize has also frequently been seen in designs by Stella McCarthy, Antonio Berardi, Elie Saab as well as Rag and Bone, who will be unveiling an exciting new collection at the upcoming Mercedes-Benz NY Fashion Week.

The stylish and award-winning actress has an busy year ahead. In addition to “Young Adult,” which is still in theatres, she will have two potential blockbusters opening in June: a epic reimaging of the Snow White tale,  “Snow White and the Huntsman” and Ridley Scott’s much anticipated “Alien” prequel, “Prometheus.”

When the inspiring style icon is not acting or appearing in campaigns for Dior, she is kept busy championing a cause very close to home as she has developed the “Africa Outreach Project,” which fights to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and sexual violence in her native South Africa.

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