So: the Golden Globes last night. Given my profession, I do feel it behoves me to at least vaguely engage with red carpet fashion, even though it seems to me to be increasingly redundant to judge a woman’s fashion sense based on her ability to pay $10K to hire a stylist to wrangle dresses on her behalf. After all, the likes of Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman or Meryl Streep are hardly fashion plates off duty.
I don’t really care what the stars look like, but I am interested to know which designers are being represented on the red carpet. In the current fiscal climate it makes better economic sense for a house to dress a star and to see those pictures endlessly printed in the world’s media than to fork out hundreds of thousands on a one hit wonder print ad in Vague. Still it’s an extremely expensive business: several couture versions of a dress may be made in a designer’s Parisian atelier (as Theyskens did so successfully at Nina Ricci for Reese Witherspoon at the 2007 Oscars) and there is absolutely no guarantee that the dresses will be worn by the often capricious stars.
This is why many houses cut to the chase and just pay an actress to wear the dress. (Come on, you didn’t think the whole affair was anything less than transactional did you? The star pays the stylist, who brokers the deal, and the house pays the star. Everyone wins.) I don’t think it serendipity that Armani’s patronage of the Sydney Theatre Company of which Cate Blanchett is Artistic Director coincided with the normally Balenciaga-loving star suddenly appearing in a series of Armani horrors at galas and Armani shows a few seasons ago. (I love that Cate Blanchett uses her stardom to such good effect for the community, rather than trousering the cash herself.)
Still, budgets are being squished everywhere and, as I expected, there was scant evidence of minor designers dressing anyone or anything approaching edgy or risky on the red carpet. No house can risk a dud frock in this climate. (Although I do have to take issue with Renee Zellweger’s Carolina Herrera frock, because it only worked when seen full length. Cropped in on the torso the proportions didn’t work. An oddly rookie mistake from the usually red carpet reliable Herrera).
My whole attitude to the celebrity parade was summed up by the glorious Kristen Scott Thomas who, upon being asked what she was wearing, replied simply, “Skin”.