Red Carpets Will Never Be the Same

The collective sentiment toward resuming physical production work during the Coronavirus pandemic has shifted from “waiting it out” to “we must find a way to resume.” The month of October is upon us and it brings one of our favorite holidays, and also the reminder that we are seven months into a pandemic that has taken the year and world by storm. As an industry, many assumed that we would have achieved “business as usual” by now, however as more productions halt due to Covid-19 cases/compliance issues, it is challenging to see the light at the end of the tunnel. What now?
 
Adjustments. The film industry is rolling with the punches so far. We have seen shoots wrap, award shows, film festivals, and projects revamp, but there is one niche area of the industry from which we have yet to see forward movement… the red carpet arena.
 
The red carpet is a huge part of award shows and other industry events. No matter how much the focus is on the “art of film,” we are always beyond excited to see who some of our favorite stars are wearing and to give commentary like E! News correspondents. The red carpet is all about grandeur and a showcase for political statements, wearable art, and full out fun. However, with very few events happening/broadcasting, those moments have been few and far between. This begs the question: what is the future of red carpets in the new year and beyond? Will we have the same expectations as we did pre-Coronavirus?
 
In this week’s blog, we take a look at the culture of red carpets and how the relationship between fashion and film could shift right before our eyes. As always, Film Connx is a source of valuable information on subjects that matter most to the film community. Enjoy!

Breakdown

Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

Hollywood had a chance to analyze its relationship with the fashion industry in several recent major moments, including the Venice Film Festival and the Emmys. During those events, several stars recycled designer looks that they had worn before. Cate Blanchett, who is the jury president for the film fest, was pictured wearing a recycled piece from Esteban Cortazar as well as Alexander McQueen and Armani Privé. For an event considered incredibly high-profile, this represents a real shake-up in expectations for celebrities and the garments that they choose to wear. The same is true for the Emmys that aired two weeks ago:  many stars opted for a much more casual style, like Jameela Jamil, who opted for a glamorous take on loungewear. 
 
The biggest revelation for us was that no one cared about the recycled looks. It’s nothing new for some of Hollywood’s elite to recycle looks for different events — Cate Blanchett has done it several times and environmentalist Joaquin Phoenix wore the same suit for his standout award season. However, with recent world-changing events, more people are starting to take a second look at what exactly the red carpet pandemonium truly stands for and the impact it has on society and the environment.  Will we soon see more stars opting to recycle looks?

Exclusivity

The entertainment industry, especially film and television, has always been an exclusive group. It’s very much about who you know and whether you fit the look. The same goes for red carpet culture – many female celebrities, filmmakers, and stylists of color have openly talked about the “exclusiveness” surrounding garments for red carpet events. Most of the rhetoric surrounding this issue stems from racism, fatphobia, and celebrity status. 

Twitter

 Designers coined the term “it girl” to exclude the likes of Bryce Dallas Howard, Cardi B, Melissa McCarthy, and Danielle Brooks. Each woman has previously stated that despite being invited to or nominated for awards, they weren’t considered “it girls” and therefore have not been dressed by certain well-known designers. Others, including Leslie Jones, have raised issues of race and ageism within the film fashion world. Before the debut of her movie Ghostbusters, Jones notably tweeted that no top designers wanted to dress her for her premier. 

 Similar complaints emanate from behind the scene: A-list actors of color have stated that major fashion houses rarely work with non-white stylists and that therefore most prominent POC Hollywood stars only have the option of being dressed by white stylists. This disparity is illustrated by the fact that in 2018, Black Panther costume designer Ruth E. Carter became the first-ever African American to win the costume design award in Oscar’s 91 years.

Elitist Culture

Red carpets are not only exclusive, but many people are starting to question their level of elitism. The pandemic has brought a wave of change-making ideas and new thoughts, and one of those thoughts is the privilege of celebrities. We have all seen videos of celebrities trying to convince people that they are “just like them” as they post from their mansions or while jet setting to parties, often disregarding Coronavirus rules and regulations. Such events have led to many questioning the importance of the idea of “celebrity.” 

This goes hand-in-hand with red carpet events during a pandemic. While we love seeing new and extravagant looks from our favorite movie stars, is it appropriate in the current climate? An anonymous film fashion professional put it best, “how do you justify awards shows returning when kids can’t even go to school?” Given the hard look we’re taking at our society regarding politics, race, climate change, and more, it is challenging to have a “business as usual” mentality when it comes to anticipating red carpets. While extravagant awards show red carpet events highlight the unique worlds of film and fashion, they can feel incredibly out of place and out of touch during these quarantined times filled with sickness, death, social unrest, and economic downturn.

AFP/Getty/REX

 Lastly, the world is becoming more conscious of its carbon footprint and the fashion industry is one of the largest contributors of waste. Many design houses release large collections for every season: spring/summer, fall/winter, resort, pre-fall, the 52 micro-seasons and haute couture. Pre-COVID, celebrities wearing designers on the red carpet was a lucrative form of advertisement for designers, and this placed pressure to churn out more pieces than necessary. With the world at pause, red carpet culture appears to be in for a hard reset. 

Final Thoughts

Red carpet culture is changing before our eyes in more ways than one due to the pandemic. Our expectations as viewers appear to be changing along with the times. Will viewers now expect these events to offer more than just a chance to see gorgeous gowns? Will we witness an end to the emphasis and advertisement of new pieces that contribute to hurting the environment?  Will celebrities still seek to send messages with their red carpet outfits? Will there now be greater opportunities underrepresented groups within fashion and film?  While we miss being a trusted red carpet correspondent, we look forward to the positive changes in store.

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