“She wore what?”
From the fashion commentary on the red carpet to the supermarket checkout, the 2014 Oscars fashion script will be no different at the 86th Academy Awards this weekend.
But what we can learn from the red carpet parade: how does the interplay work between the major fashion houses, celebrity worship and global media? And has it always been this way?
In 2009 I was asked by a major high-circulation newspaper to provide commentary on the good, the bad and the ugly outfits at the Oscars. A ritual of judgement that fuels negative commentary and by virtue sells more media both electronic and print.
In my considered response, I wrote only positive critiques and distinctly remember writing that the favoured trend of the day was wearing a grin and that reflected happiness is the best fashion accessory that can be worn.
My commentary did not run in the press. It was no doubt not worthy of generating newspaper sales because I didn’t abide by the cat-fight antics inherent in this ceremony.
The armchair critique of Oscars fashion is part of broader cultural trend equally fuelled by the plethora of reality TV shows where we all can be expert on food, romance, health and renovations. This has been an entrenched custom in fashion for a number of years where the best and worst dressed lists appear across the globe with glossy magazines, daily newspaper editions and fashion blogs all competing to capture our attention.
If we revisit 1950s Hollywood, the Oscars ceremony was a very different and a decidedly tame affair.
Historically the stars of a film would be most likely dressed by the wardrobe supervisor at the film studio such as the iconic Adrian at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) or the legendary and most popular costume designer in Hollywood during this time Edith Head, who started at Paramount Studios and then moved to Universal.
The alternate option was to purchase a preferred gown from a local dressmaker or store.
It did however start to change as described by New York based fashion commentator and creative director of luxury department store Barney’s, Simon Doonan, who titled his blog page on January 14 this year Frockophany! and stated: