It may still be the freezing depths of winter but, as far as fashion goes, the spring season really begins on Sunday night, as the Golden Globes awards ceremony in Hollywood kicks off a month of red-carpet dressing.
As a veritable showcase of offerings from designers’ new collections, this season of celebrity gongs not only helps raise the profiles (and salaries) of screen actors everywhere but also serves as a litmus test for sartorial trends. After all, what appears on stage, on camera and in the ensuing “people” pages also helps determine which designer ideas make it off the catwalk and into wardrobes when clothes hit the stores next month.
In this context, the Golden Globes is both the first of the awards ceremonies and possibly the most important. Dressing here is more varied than at the Baftas, held on February 13, or the Oscars, due on February 27: and there’s the sparkle – a lot of it.
“There is more star wattage at the Globes because they give awards for both television and film, so you have to stand out,” says Cameron Silver, owner of the LA vintage boutique Decades, and sartorial adviser to many a starlet.
And unlike the Oscars, which is held in a theatre with every celeb in their assigned seat, the Globes is an enormous dinner party, with buckets of champagne on the tables and stars working the room – all the better to see what they are wearing.
“There’s a fun spirit to the evening,” says Robert Verdi, a television host and stylist. Elizabeth Stewart, a Los Angeles-based stylist, adds: “Since there are so many genres, anything goes. It’s a good start to the awards season.”
Still, says Verdi, “The Globes are pretty risk-averse. You are not going to see wild things like what Christian Lacroix used to do on his couture runway, or what John Galliano does. People don’t want scary pieces. You will see interesting but not outrageous.”
After all, celebrities have multiple ceremonies to dress for. They need time for the effect of their outfits to build – and they need not to become a laughing stock of worst-dressed lists from the start.
“There are no more Cher-in-Bob-Mackie moments,” says Silver, “though I would relish that amazing individuality.”
Actually, it is possible that we will get the chance to see the age-defying singer/actress, who has been nominated for Best Original Song for the aptly titled “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me Yet” from the movie Burlesque. Whether or not Cher pulls an eye-popping number out of her closet, all this restraint is good news for the rest of us, as it means that what we see on the red carpet has more relevance to dressing up in everyday life.
This season, expect interesting silhouettes in unexpected colours. “Like,” says Silver, “a one-shoulder dress in shrimp.” Verdi, who dresses actresses Eva Longoria and Kathy Griffin, is drawn to this fashion season’s jewel tones – “like Andrew Gn’s vivid blues and purple”. He adds: “Colour is an easy way to get attention. And it’s hopeful. Wearing colour is positive.”
Also expect to see a lingering Mad Men influence on the red carpet, with the hourglass silhouette that is so fashionable these days, retro jewellery and upswept hair. “The Grace Kelly look is going to be the beauty trend,” says Verdi. “And we’ll see twists on 1950s fashion, like dresses decorated with sequins, which wasn’t so common back then.”
If that sounds unappealing, Verdi also predicts androgyny – “a homage to Yves Saint Laurent and to Jil Sander and Helmut Lang of the 1990s. Shapes that aren’t all about bust, waist and hips, that aren’t ultra body-conscious.”
Short dresses may make an appearance too: “Cocktail length looks fresh and it’s how people dress,” says Silver. “There are so many young actresses that it looks appropriate. This is Hollywood’s prom. And a 16-year-old in a ballgown seems wrong.” As for long gowns, Verdi is expecting to see “more draped than cut, like Lanvin, Haider Ackermann and Proenza Schouler. “You are going to see plunging necklines too,” he adds.
Although Stewart always has dresses custom-made by designers for her clients – who include Cate Blanchett, Freida Pinto, Amanda Seyfried and Calista Flockhart – she still considers current fashion trends when advising them. This year, she says, “there’s a soft romantic look that will hit the red carpet for sure”.
For the Globes, Stewart is dressing 22-year-old first-time nominee Jennifer Lawrence, a contender for Best Actress in a Film for Winter’s Bone. Once she and the actress choose the designer and the dress is made, Stewart will do two fittings to get it right. All of this “is done on the QT”, she says. “You want something that hasn’t been seen before and that is perfectly fitting.” For Lawrence, the creation must be particularly special because “it’s her first big moment”.
Most brands do what they can to accommodate a celebrity’s wishes. After all, says Carlos Souza, Valentino’s worldwide brand ambassador, “it is an important investment for the house and an incredible publicity vehicle for the brand.”
Carol Brodie, former global head of PR for Harry Winston and chief executive of Rarities: Fine Jewelry, says red-carpet arrivals for major awards shows such as the Globes are “the most important moment for fashion and jewellery designers. You’ll be referenced in the press once a month for years.” Not to mention a force to drive consumers in-store – if not for years, then at least for a season.
Dana Thomas is the author of ‘Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre’ (Penguin)