The Red Carpet? It’s Child’s Play…

Death, taxes, award shows, and red carpets. While not necessarily in this exact order, these are just some of the things that are positively guaranteed in life. What is also guaranteed is that while there are always exceptions to the rule, in general, what we will most likely see on the red carpet (now that the red carpet season is now officially underway and in full swing), is yet another boring parade of predictable, very formulaic evening gowns and bijoux (borrowed no less). You know the drill. And I know that I will invariably be disappointed because I want that wow factor, and let’s face it, stars are not dressing for fashion insiders who have informed finely tuned finely honed senses of styles, but for a wider global audience who expect their stars to look like “princesses”. True fashion moments, such as Lupita Nyongo’s arrival at the 2014 Golden Globes wearing that floor length red Ralph Lauren cape dress, are few and far between. By the way, some of the reasons it worked so well: it was sleek and minimal, she wore no jewelry, it completely suited her, enhanced her natural beauty, made a bold statement, and it wasn’t just another pretty (prom) dress.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck at the 2014 Oscars

Actually, this was the subject of Ruth La Ferla’s front page article in The New York Times Thursday Styles section on Thursday, January 15, “Flirting with the idea of risk”, which posed the question, “Why do so many Hollywood stars insists on dressing for the red carpet as if it were prom night?” Indeed, I couldn’t agree more with that assertion. And while there are hopeful signs, with a number of adventurous rule breakers thumbing their nose at convention, unfortunately, things seem to be changing very slowly, or not at all, as exemplified by last Sunday’s Golden Globes. Sure, there were many who looked good, including Julianne Moore in Givenchy Haute Couture, Lorde in Narsico Rodriguez’s black tuxedo pantsuit, Lena Dunham in sculptural red Zac Posen, and Melissa McCarthy looked really chic in her full sleeved white shirt with black tie and long fitted black skirt, but there was no one particular OMG moment for me.

 Brad and Angelina at the 2013 Golden  Globes

And as usual, as soon as the show was over, the knives came out and the requisite Monday Morning Quarterbacking immediately began, with newspapers, online blogs, television news and entertainment segments devoted to dishing the dirt on who looked good, who looked bad, who looked ugly. And as always, almost nobody would agree, because it is all so subjective. Some of those who made the best dressed list somewhere, appeared on the worst dressed list elsewhere. For example, Sienna Miller got high marks for her ethereal Miu Miu gown, but it left me cold and Felicity Jones was criticized for her full skirted bottle green Dior Haute Couture gown, but it topped Adam Glassman’s best dressed list

George and Amal Clooney at the 2015 Golden Globes

Case in point: Amal Alamuddin’s white gloves, which she used to accessorize her glamorous black Dior. Were they hit or miss? Glamour’s fashion news director Jane Keltner de Valle opined, “It’s pretty remarkable when you consider that she wasn’t nominated for an award, isn’t an actress, and isn’t even a part of the industry, and yet her confident, bold choice made her the most talked-about woman of the evening.  So many women in Hollywood feel they need to bare all to be noticed. Amal proved that you can maintain your dignity, be elegant and discreet, and steal the show”. But others thought the gloves were ill fitting (“If the gloves don’t fit, you must quit”, decreed The New York Post). And Kathy Griffin, in her first appearance on Fashion Police, went so far as to say they reminded her of a porn scene, “You heard me! Everybody run in fear! I thought it was weird she had those gloves that remind me of, like, a porn scene, where the guy goes home and there’s the naughty dishwasher and she only has the gloves”.

 Beyonce at the 2013 Grammy Awards

But there is one post red carpet ritual I find myself looking forward to, and no, it’s not the TV segments where fashion ‘experts’ show the public how to find the red carpet looks for less (remember Allen B. Schwartz who prided himself on being able to recreate almost overnight, the red carpet gowns for his company ABS?) I myself don’t care for the costly originals with their 4 or 5 figure price tags so why would I be in the least bit interested in their $250 knockoffs? No, I’m referring to Tricia Messeroux’s re-creation of the styles and poses of A List celebrities (George and Amal, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Kerry Washington, Halle Barry, Lupita Nyong’o, Anne Hathaway, Beyonce, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Pharrell Williams, J.Lo, J. Law, etc.) for ToddleWood ( Using toddlers between the ages of three and six, the New York based photographer (who admits she is a “child at heart”), enlists the help of her team of costume designers, stylists, and hair and make-up artists, to pull it off, and quite frankly, they do such a convincing job transforming “everyday kids into superstar celebrities, iconic figures, and historic legends”, it’s almost scary.

But to her credit, unlike Hollywood, there are limits to which Ms. Messeroux will go, and she has wisely gone on the record with this statement, “I make sure that every one of the images I shoot are always rated G — I never go risqué. I never put kids in a position I wouldn’t want my daughter in. … They’re playing dress up — they have a lot of fun.”

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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