Seeing Green on the Red Carpet
As the crimson carpets are rolled up and we bid farewell to award season, fashion houses around the globe prepare to rake in the publicity and the dough.
By Tiffany Weatherman & Isabel Keller
With over 80 million viewers worldwide watching the various awards shows this year, it's no wonder designers jump at the opportunity for red carpet branding. With high-wattage celebrities spouting their name to every media outlet that asks "Who are you wearing?" the amount of publicity the designer receives is major, as Hollywood's award season makes up one of the biggest high-end brand marketing venues in the world.
Behind all of the glamour and fashion attire there are strategic business transactions taking place. Focusing on the tuxedo, a garment that instantly turns any man into a gentleman, designers themselves are typically the decision makers behind which A-lister ends up in their creation. As there is no profit gained directly from the celeb sporting the tuxedo at an award show, it's the publicity they create for the designer that is priceless – so priceless, in fact, that sometimes the designer will pay big bucks to dress a particular star. With offers ranging from $10,000 to six figures (depending on the celebrity's status), it's no wonder red carpet fashion has become a highly competitive market.
Diamonds Are A Girls Best (Borrowed) Friend
Diamond carats decorate stars parading the red carpet, adding the final sparkle to the glamorous event. How do these megabucks of shine survive the journey from the jeweler's counter to a starlet's neckline and back? It's a collaborative effort between jeweler, celebrity, and a few bodyguards. The jeweler carries 'jeweler's block' coverage, protecting their entire inventory. Most coverage stops at the destination. The celebrity must show proof of adequate 'valuable articles coverage' or sign a document assuming financial responsibility. Next, the celebrity provides an execution plan for the jewels' transfer. The jeweler needs details such as when the celeb is picking up the jewelry, how the transfer will take place, where the jewelry will be stored, and when it will be returned. Enter the bodyguard. Cartier and Chopard hire the bodyguard to escort the gems on their journey; others require the celebrity to arrive with a bodyguard or two in tow.
Up & Coming
Los Angeles native Alexandra Yeaggy, a specialist in drapery, embroidery, and lace work, manages every aspect of creating and selling fashion products. A recognized designer, her resume includes seven years in Italy where she refined her skills in the traditional Italian methods of high-fashion design, pattern making, and garment construction.
Fashion houses hire stylists to use strictly for award season, but not just any stylist. Celebrity stylists are selected based mainly on their relationships and will typically spend the weekend prior to the event driving all over Los Angeles ensuring celebrities receive their selected suits, all the while keeping track to prevent any doubles or repeats. Typically the most sought-after designers such as Tom Ford and Ermenegildo Zegna will not have more than two or three men sporting their brand at the same award show. Of course, each will be dressed in a different tuxedo or suit. Only about half of the items delivered will actually end up in the arms of the prospective wearer – and those are considered to be good odds.
How does a designer guarantee a celebrity will strut down the red carpet garnished in their creation? Celebrity Endorsements have become a fundamental aspect of the overall red carpet ritual. While most top designers like Ralph Lauren and Dolce Gabbana don't have to pay a particular celebrity gent to wear their tuxedo at an award show, it is a highly competitive market and endorsement deals help secure the client. This process usually takes place with the celebrity's endorsement teams, which handle all of the negotiations.
After all the arrangements are made and the award show comes to an end, what happens to the tuxedos we see on the red carpet? In some cases, the celebrity in question must return their tux as early as midnight, while others are allowed until the early morning hours when the after-parties finally come to an end. Once returned, the clothing is sometimes lent or resold, and as a result are even greater prized because of whom it was previously worn by. Yet even with the IRS announcement that it would start taxing celebrities for free gifts, it has become common practice for the fashion house to gift the pieces worn. After which, in order to avoid this new tax law, the celebrity promptly turns around and donates the garment to a charity auction. Clothes Off Our Backs, an online charity auction with proceeds benefiting numerous children's charities, is the most popular.
Designers realized a couple of decades ago – 1989 to be exact – that putting their creations on the right celebrity is worth an enormous amount of publicity for their brand. Hollywood's elite, on the other hand, have only recently discovered that being on the best-dressed list can be as vital as winning the coveted Golden Globe or Oscar. Making the best-dressed list can not only propel the star into new deals and endorsements, but it has been known to be a deciding factor when being asked to play a leading role in an upcoming blockbuster. And let's not forget those sought-after stylists. A stylist's career can also be thrust into the spotlight by hitting a home run on the red carpet; they, too, are wooed by different fashion houses with luxury vacations, lavish gifts, and sometimes even plastic surgery.
Indeed, the red carpet allows something to gain (or lose!) for everyone.