Red carpet evolution

The Emmys were last week, signalling the time to once again roll out the red carpet and for the biggest names in Hollywood to get dressed to the nines for the flurry of media. Red carpet fashion has always been highly followed, with a whole host of TV shows and blogs dedicated to judging and praising what all the stars are wearing, with this changing significantly through the decades. If you look back to the golden age of Hollywood, the big actresses, such as Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, appeared on the red carpet in the 40’s and 50’s exuding the same glamour as their on-screen characters. Mink throws, silk dresses and long white gloves could be seen on every starlet, alongside opulent jewellery; even a tiara or two made an appearance at the 1957 Academy Awards. Following that, the 60’s and 70’s reflected the cultural zeitgeist with a more relaxed approach to dressing, accompanying the eras of hippies and increasing liberalism, with Cher ruling the red carpets in her daring and often fringe heavy dresses. Nothing, however, will compare to the turn of the century awards season fashion.

Remember Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears in their matching all denim ensembles? Yep, the early 2000’s were the heyday of red carpet fashion. The idea of having a stylist was not yet on the horizon, so celebrities dressed themselves in the biggest trends for award shows. Think anything from low rise jeans, to bedazzled belts and a whole host of trousers worn under dresses. Paris Hilton was the pinnacle of this style of dressing, so for reference, google her early style for an overwhelming archive of imagery and all those who she inspired, from the Olsen twins to Ashley Tisdale. It would be impossible to mention red carpet fashion without mentioning THAT Versace dress that Jennifer Lopez wore to the Grammys in 2000; the plunging neckline, completely sheer, tropical print dress received so much attention online, it led to the invention of Google images.  For the Versace spring/summer 2020 show, J-Lo strutted down the runway in a modern revamp of said dress, looking just as glamorous and daring as she had two decades earlier.

Times have shifted considerably since the early 2000’s, thank goodness, as the celebrity stylist has now become the norm. No longer do celebs have to fork out for their own dresses, as high-profile stylists liaise with the biggest fashion houses to borrow suits and frocks. One of the most influential and highly praised stylists in the game is Kate Young, formerly Anna Wintour’s assistant, who now dresses a whole host of ‘it girls’ such as Sophie Turner, Selena Gomez, Margot Robbie and Dakota Johnson. Young and other stylists are able to collaborate with designers, for example pairing Louis Vuitton and Sophie Turner, so that the starlets are not only on campaign billboards in the designer looks, but out and about on the red carpet promoting the brand as well.

The future of the red carpet is unpredictable; take the way that actors came dressed all in black for the Time’s Up movement, redirecting all the media attention so that the red carpet became a platform to make a political statement. It is exciting to think about what’s next, and as long as jeans worn under dresses are well and truly in the past, the future looks bright.   

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Maya Coomarasamy

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May 2022
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