The stakes are high, the lights are bright and the fash­ion is jaw- drop­ping. This, friends, is celebrity style’s Su­per Bowl week­end

The Kit - - FRONT PAGE -

As if win­ter, spring, sum­mer and fall were not enough, we now have awards sea­son. And it can oc­ca­sion its very own brand of af­fec­tive dis­or­der, the pri­mary symp­tom of which might be the fever­ish in­ter­est in who wore what on the red car­pet, per­haps ac­com­pa­nied by a par­tic­u­lar sort of queasi­ness that may come with watch­ing hours of cov­er­age on the E! chan­nel.

And yet, al­ready en­gorged on the gor­geous­ness of the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, we hunger for the glam­our of the Os­cars and can’t wait un­til Fe­bru­ary 26 to get our fi x.

While I’m mak­ing it sound all rather patho­log­i­cal, there is giddy de­light to be had from “screwy, bal­ly­hooey Hol­ly­wood,” the cap­i­tal of make-be­lieve. And to­day’s bub­ble­headed ex­cite­ment is not that much dif­fer­ent from the kind por­trayed in the 1954 ver­sion of A Star Is Born.

The movie opens with a gala movie pre­miere. There are the klieg lights, a mob-like crowd look­ing on, and a com­men­ta­tor go­ing gaga over what the star­let has on her back: “She’s wear­ing a black sheath. Isn’t it divine? And a white fox. And the di­a­monds in the hair. Did you ever?”

The red car­pet has a his­tory stretch­ing back to an­cient Greece, but in mod­ern times it has be­come syn­ony­mous with Hol­ly­wood, cra­dle of celebrity and hoopla. Cov­er­age of what movie stars wore was of­ten just en­thu­si­as­tic gush. In the mid-1990s, Joan Rivers changed that. Gen­er­ally re­garded as the mother of red car­pet cov­er­age as we know it, she pi­o­neered a kind of brash can­dour that has de­volved into the gawk-and-scoff cyn­i­cism that is a spe­cialty of E! Chan­nel’s Fash­ion Po­lice. This is es­pe­cially the case with con­sta­ble Mar­garet Cho who is of­ten jaw-drop­pingly crude. Com­ment­ing on a Gi­ambat­tista Valli gown worn by Jen­nifer Lopez at the Golden Globes last year, Cho fo­cused on its long, vo­lu­mi­nous train, re­mark­ing that she her­self could never wear it, since she farts so much she’d end up hang-glid­ing.

A more pos­i­tive, even pro­gres­sive as­pect of cur­rent red car­pet cov­er­age is the at­ten­tion paid to what the men are wear­ing. In gen­eral, guys on the red car­pet pro­vide some of the coolest fash­ion sight­ings. At this year’s Golden Globes alone, it would be hard to ar­gue with the fit and fi nesse rep­re­sented by Don­ald Glover in Gucci, Brad Pitt in Tom Ford or Rami Malek (who ap­pears in the Dior Homme cam­paign for Spring 2017) in a Dior Homme suit with vest that has emerged on the red car­pet as the lat­est in mod­ish evening at­tire.

That’s an­other play­ful plea­sure of fash­ion as spec­ta­tor sport: track­ing trends. Checked off so far this awards sea­son: plung­ing neck­lines ( Emma Stone in Valentino), bare shoul­ders (Kerry Wash­ing­ton in Cavalli), shine (Michelle Wil­liams in Louis Vuit­ton), trans­parency (Claire Foy in Valentino) and white ( Natalie Port­man in Dior).

At the same time, there is al­ways the kick of lay­ing eyes on some­thing dis­tinc­tive. Of course, too dis­tinc­tive may get you mocked. See the bril­liant Mar­jan Pe­joski swan that Björk wore in 2001. More re­cently, Ni­cole Kid­man’s Gucci par­rots at the SAG Awards in­cited squawk­ing.

Iron­i­cally, while red car­pet fash­ion serves to foster de­signer aware­ness, that is not to say that even the most hawk-eyed ob­server is go­ing to be able to tell who de­signed what just from look­ing. Many (most?) gowns are not in­stantly rec­og­niz­able as the work of any par­tic­u­lar tal­ent. Would we ever know with­out the help of Gi­u­liana Ran­cic re­port­ing live or with­out count­less me­dia out­lets on count­less web­sites spread­ing the word?

Per­haps it’s sim­ply just pi­ous self-jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to think it, but the red car­pet does of­fer the plain, no-name plea­sure of watch­ing peo­ple— any peo­ple—strut their stuff. To boil it down to this sim­ple sat­is­fac­tion is to not think about all the power, money, and con­trivance that make Hol­ly­wood a fac­tory of dreams. But, ig­nor­ing the ma­chin­ery, you may read­ily fall for the magic.

Moon­ing over the gussied up gods and god­desses of Hol­ly­wood may be a respite from meaner re­al­i­ties, but it should not be a re­place­ment for them. Ac­cept­ing a life­time achieve­ment award from the Screen Ac­tors Guild in late Jan­uary, Lily Tom­lin slyly sam­pled Henry David Thoreau, the 19th-cen­tury philoso­pher and cham­pion of the sim­ple life. Stand­ing be­fore an au­di­ence dolled up in their lat­est glad rags, she cau­tioned, “Be­ware of any en­ter­prise that re­quires new cloth­ing.”



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