The world’s most important fashion show hit the red carpet Sunday at the 91st Academy Awards, as designer labels vied forattention-grabbing moments in the walkup to an unusual, host-less Oscars—replete withnew rules aimed at reversinga dropin viewership.
Last year, the Oscars strove to stay apolitical, and this year was no different. The pre-game show remained the usual gauntlet of sartorialexcess sprinkled with small nods to social consciousness.In 2018, #MeToo was on everyone’s lips as the movement swept over Hollywood like a tsunami. This year, demands for gender equity and nominee diversity wereprominent beforehand, but on the catwalkthere was little more than theAmerican Civil Liberties Union ribbon worn byConstance Wu.Oscars 2019: Rami Malek, left, winner of the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for Bohemian Rhapsody, kisses Olivia Colman, winner of the award for best performance by an actress in a leading role for The Favourite, as they appear with Regina King, winner of the award for best performance by an actress in a supporting role for If Beale Street Could Talk, and Mahershala Ali, winner of the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role for Green Book, right, in the press room at the Oscars. ( Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP )
If anything, it was Christian Siriano’s black velvet tuxedo-gown, as worn by actor andsinger Billy Porter, that did double-duty asdesign of the night and political statement. Others lauded by the fashion critics, both professional and amateur, included the aforementioned Wu wearing a yellow chiffon dress from Versace, Emilia Clarke of Game of Thronesin a shimmering light purple Balmain gown and Laura Harrier sporting a pastel blue numberbyLouis Vuitton.
When it came to fashion trends, this year the red carpet was full of pink—from a vivacious fuchsia dress worn by GemmaChan to Jason Momoa’s light blush tux.
There’s a lot of money at stake during awards season. These events serve as a major platform for design houses to show off their clothes, sincethe red carpet can cement credibility that lasts all year long. Outfitting an A-list celebrity—and making them look good—can mean a breakthrough for a young designer. For the big labels, such as Valentino and Armani, it’s almost expected of them to stay relevant with new creations.Oscars 2019: Spike Lee stands on his mark in his Air Jordan 3 gold shoes as he poses backstage with his Best Adapted Screenplay award for BlackKklansman. ( REUTERS )
The impact of red carpet style is seen almost immediately after the Oscars—not just in dress sales but in the copycat market as well. Trademark spats pile up fast as cheap dressmakers scramble to sell versions of the most talked-about looks for those who can’t afford the real thing.
For a century or more,celebrities have had an intimate relationship with the fashion industrial complex. These days,even B-listers and below get to dress up in $5,000 gowns and $100,000 necklaces free of charge. Meanwhile, the true superstars work out deals where they become some of the highest paid runway models in the world, if only for one night.Liberty Ross arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, in Beverly Hills, Calif. ( Evan Agostini/Invision/AP )
From dresses to jewelry to makeup—no opportunity is missed. Lots of celebrities are already paid millions of dollars to be spokesmodels for big fashion labels—and they, of course, stick with theirbrandon the big day.
Last year, this symbioticrelationship was set aside for two of the shows—the Golden Globes and the BAFTA Awards. The customary fashion show was sidelined to make a statement against sexual misconduct. Hollywood’s biggest stars all wore black in solidarity with #MeToo.
At the Oscars, however, it was mostly business as usual. As usual.