This is why the red carpet matters at Hollywood awards season

As the 2016 awards season kick into high gear in the coming weeks, the collective fashion community rises with a frenzy; faking the couture shows in Paris, reaching out to designers, making preparations. It is red carpet season again, and like Christmas, it comes but once a year.

Viola Davis in Marchesa.
Viola Davis in Marchesa.

The cumulative eight weeks between January and February are the most anticipated weeks in many fashion calendars and influence many fashion sartorial lists for the rest of the year. The awards season offers the average fashion follower the unique opportunity of seeing clothes debuted on the runway in the past fall and winter season’s worn in real life, filled out and lengthened or shortened and accessorized in the wildest ways by their favorite celebrities.

Awards season also offers many celebrities the opportunity to glam up and show themselves in the best possible light. Apart from the recognition by means of awards that a select few artists gain in their preferred field, the awards season most importantly offers the celebrity community as a whole unprecedented publicity as is evident with the number of red carpet shows that have grown around the arrival of guests to these events.

Taraji P Henson in Stella McCartney, She won best actress on the night.
Taraji P Henson in Stella McCartney, She won best actress on the night.

The entertainment and fashion industries are intricately interconnected to one another, and both perpetuate an endless cycle of influence and counter influence. This is most evident at award shows. Celebrities; male and female ‘wear’ designers and jewelers at these events and promote the brands they wear by speaking extensively about their looks.  But many fashion lovers do not understand or appreciate the process through which these clothes and accessories make their way from the runways and ateliers of designers to the red carpet.

Regina King, nominated for American Crime at the Golden Globes
Regina King, nominated for American Crime at the Golden Globes

Every designer has a target celebrity list, a list of clients which the design house feels best represents their brand and with whom a collaboration would be ideal. These celebrities are courted by the the various design houses and are accommodated to encourage them to choose the brand.

Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox

Pre-award season, the spring summer collections are shown at fashion weeks all across the world. These fashion weeks are attended by models and celebrities as well as celebrity stylists and the fashion brand’s public relations representatives. This is where first contact is made. To understand this part of the process, you have to understand that fashion showings are closed events and are usually attended strictly by invitation, so for a celebrity or members of their team to even score an invite, indicates interest from at least one party.

Uzo Aduba in Talbot Runhof
Uzo Aduba in Talbot Runhof

Sometimes the celebrities approach PR firms of these fashion houses either in person or through their publicists or stylists and indicate interest in wearing their clothes but usually the fashion house extends the offer. Depending on the celebrity’s popularity and the possibility of future exposure, (starring in a critically acclaimed award contending film, or a releasing a critically acclaimed album) the design house either pledges a piece from their current collection or the possibility of a custom made dress or suit being made for the celebrity.

Jada Pinkett Smith in Atelier Versace
Jada Pinkett Smith in Atelier Versace

Fast forward to the award season proper. This is the period where the interaction between the entertainment industry and the fashion industry intensifies. From as early as October the previous year, fashion journalists begin to speculate what celebrity will be wearing what designer based on previous collaborations and the celebrity’s current popularity. As the invitations to the award ceremonies are confirmed for the celebrities, their representatives redeem the informal pledges from the fashion houses and lay down requests for custom pieces or pieces that they have short listed as potential outfits their client will wear to the event. It is also at this period that celebrities who have not been approached, reach out to the fashion houses through their stylists to request for pieces. This takes about three weeks to a month, the present and previous collections are sorted through and the most appropriate dresses are chosen. By the end, most stylists end up with anything from five to twenty pieces from different collections and the final decision on dress and accessories are decided upon by the stylist and the celebrity.

Zoe Kravitz at the 2016 Critics choice Awards
Zoe Kravitz.

Once a piece has been chosen, the collaboration between the celebrity and the label is normally announced through media such as the Vogue italia website and Style.com. But which actual piece and the collection from which it is taken remains a secret till the actual event. No celebrity is obligated to wear a piece from a designer unless they have an endorsment contract like Charlize Theron and Dior in the past. There have been rumors that celebrities pay to wear the designers on the catwalk but this is untrue. At the end of the day, the celebrity endorses the designer he/she is wearing by talking about the pieces he/she is wearing. Also, as an added  publicity bonus, the celebrity’s presence at the award event will always be mentioned in conjunction with the designer he/she wore. This in itself is a form of endorsement.

red carpet photos

The last step of the process is accessorizing. The jewelers who accessorize the stars at awards season usually loan their unique bespoke pieces to celebrities for the night at the behest of their management teams who take a percentage of the insurance for the pieces. A big deal if you ask me, seeing as many of these pieces cost as much as entire salaries from their movies/music.

The award season is as much a big deal for the fashion industry as it is for the entertainment industry, creating jobs and selling the appeal of designers and their exquisitely created clothes to the buying community and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

1 Comment
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