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Welcome to The Glossy!
A pop-up newsletter about fashion x entertainment
I’m Vincent Boucher, fashion journalist and recovering former celebrity stylist.
In the before times of 2019, Hollywood was a dizzying array of red carpets, events and Instagram moments. Fast-forward: we’ve spent the better part of two years in sweats. But hope is in the air. Last weekend’s SAG Awards felt like an unfettered Hollywood awards show with the return of an all-out red carpet, the world’s premiere marketing platform for brands and the talent wearing them. But things are different now. When the pandemic began there was no Metaverse, NFTs were not BFDs, and Trump was at war with TikTok. Now, the rules of the game have changed.
The Glossy is my take in the ramp up to the Oscars on the nexus of fashion and entertainment, who’s making money now and how, while featuring the most inventive costume work in film and TV. To kick things off, the next three weeks will have a heavy emphasis on, what else, the Academy Awards, in advance of the big March 27 show. We may come back and join you for Emmy season as well.
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1. The Best Costume Showdown
“The conversation everywhere is that normally there’s a clear front-runner,” Costume Designers Guild president Sal Perez tells me when I reached out to ask him about the state of the Oscar Best Costumes race. “But this year, all five of the nominees are fuckin’ incredible and each one is very spectacular in their own way.”
To recap, the nominees are:
Dune (Warner Bros): Jacqueline West, Robert Morgan
Cruella (Walt Disney Pictures): Jenny Beavan
Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures): Luis Sequeira
West Side Story (20th Century Studios): Paul Tazewell
Cyrano (MGM/United Artists Releasing): Massimo Cantini Parrini, Jacqueline Durran
“Do I have a favorite? Well, Dune is a much bigger project just because of the scope of what you had to do. And the details of the costumes extraordinary.” But, Sal continues, the thing to remember is that the award is voted on by the AMPAS membership not just the other costume designers. “And which one is most memorable? It’s probably Cruella because that’s the one that everybody can relate to. As much as there might have been more work in Dune or Nightmare Alley, these are the costumes that the audience can relate to, and their kids want to play with the (Cruella) toys.”
I also asked Sal if he thought costume designers had dodged a bullet since the category hadn’t been relegated to a pre-broadcast purgatory like the awards for Makeup and Hair Design and Production Design. He told me, not so fast. “Okay, my members are all applauding that, like, ‘Oh, the Academy realizes how important we are.’ No, no, no. I've talked to the governor of the costume category of the awards, and it wasn’t like they chose Costuming. It’s a rotating thing, it’s a lottery, so next year another eight categories won’t be shown live. So, it's not that Costumes survived, it means, just not this round.”
In the end, it’s probably true that the broadcast audience can relate to Production Design or Makeup and Hair more than can relate to Animated Short or Sound Editing. “It’s unfortunate but that’s the reality of it,” Sal says. “But they all should get that moment to shine.”
As someone pointed out to him recently, it’s not about the fact that they won’t be showing people accepting awards live on the air. “It's about the fact that you are accepting your award to an empty audience. The whole point of is to accept it in front of your peers and what bothers people the most is that they don't get to accept an award and say those words in front of their peers.”
2. OSCARS: WHO’LL WEAR WHAT? FOLLOW THE $$$
Starting to think about who’ll wear what to the Oscars, I phoned a publicist who represents a showroom stuffed with evening-wear and asked her for an early report on what potential attendees were looking for. Her deadpan answer: “Money!”
It’s no secret that the major global fashion houses pay the nominees and presenters to wear their wares on the red carpet, either directly or through contracts (a.k.a. “brand ambassadorships”) that keep the stars tied up for a longer period of time. At the SAGs, the A-list was mainly attired in selections from European heavy-hitters (you think consolidation has hit Hollywood hard? Try fashion). Herewith the winning brands:
Armani: Lady Gaga and Cate Blanchett in black-and-white from the Privé line.
Dior: Surprise Best Actress winner Jessica Chastain and Hacks nominee Hannah Embinder in Dior Couture. The Power of the Dog nominee Kodi Smit-McPhee and Mare of Eastown’s Evan Peters in Dior Men.
Saint Laurent: The French house dressed four nominees: Tick, Tock…Boom!’s Andrew Garfieldin a 60’s inspired suit with lurex pinstripes, Being the Ricardos Nicole Kidman, Belfast’sCatríona Balfe and Succession’s Kieran Culkin.
Louis Vuitton: The juggernaut brand dressed upset winner in Television Drama Series, Squid Game’s HoYeon Jung, Genius: Aretha’s Cynthia Erivo in her head-turning red vinyl sheath, and Don’t Look Up’s ensemble cast member Kid Cudi in a crystal-embroidered black suit, accessorized with rare Nike x Off-White Air Jordan One sneakers by LV’s late menswear designer Virgil Abloh.
Gucci: Squid Game’s Best Male Actor in a Drama Series winner Lee Jung-jae.
Valentino Couture: West Side Story’s Ariana DeBose.
Atelier Versace: Ted Lasso ensemble winner and individual nominee Juno Temple.
The point is that these are exactly the same designer names that populated the “Best Dressed” lists from the 92nd Oscars, immediately preceding the 2020 Covid-19 shutdown. (Best Actress winner Renee Zellweger wore Gucci and Supporting Actress Laura Dern wore Armani Privé, if you remember.) There are a lot of reasons for this, besides offering big paydays. The legacy brands in Paris and Milan have dedicated ateliers populated with teams of skilled craftsman, with the gowns themselves often including complicated interior construction like corsets and boning that keep everything in place all night long. Add to that the fashion houses’ teams of publicists and design assistants who sweep into Hollywood during award season to offer their wares or show up at a celebrity’s home or hotel suite for a final once-over before the star hops into her limo. It makes younger designers with smaller infrastructure almost impossible to spot on major red carpets (though King Richard nominee Aunjanue Ellis donned a bejeweled gown from newcomer Daniel Del Core, a Gucci and Zuhair Murad alum, at the SAGs).
The Critics’ Choice and BAFTA ceremonies slated for March 13th, and then the Oscars on March 27th, likely will follow suit. Whither the Americans? The best of the best usually target one nominee or presenter. At the SAGs, Selena Gomez, in a black velvet stunner, wore Oscar de la Renta’s young designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia; silver-clad Sandra Oh donned Carolina Herrera; and Jennifer Hudson wore girly pink from Vera Wang. Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren were MIA. And, notably missing were three Black designers who are known for their evening wear: Sergio Hudson (who dressed VP Kamala Harris at this week’s SOTU), LaQuan Smith and Christopher John Rogers(though Rogers did dress Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, at the NAACP awards the night before.)
3. Red Carpet: Into the Metaverse?
At the recent NYFW, a big talking point was the Metaverse, as designers like Jonathan Simkhai, Maisie Wilen and Imitation of Christ all experimented with the format; Simkhai as well as Eckhaus Latta and Altuzarra also played with the sister category of NFTs. The talk was spurred in part by the upcoming first-time global Metaverse Fashion Week hosted by virtual platform Decentraland that will span four days starting March 24 and it has already attracted more brand inquiries than it can handle, from “household names,” the organizers say, to marquee luxury brands (Balenciaga is rumored.) It will feature virtual fashion shows, live music sessions at branded after-parties (again from the comfort of home) and the opportunity to buy and wear digital clothing directly from runway avatars as well as to buy physical goods within the metaverse.
With brands like Gucci and Ralph Lauren already having opened virtual pop-ups on metaverse platforms Roblox and Zepeto; and Nike and Vans, among others, having opened permanent spaces in Roblox, it seems the Metaverse is an idea whose time has come for many brands.
That poses an interesting question, though: What might the Metaverse mean for Hollywood celebrities and the future of payouts for red carpet walks and front-row appearances at IRL fashion shows, both currently sources of some pretty nifty extra income? Speaking with Douglas Hand, the stylish New York attorney (@handofthelaw) who’s a frequent fixture at fashion shows and also advises several top clothing brands as a partner at Hand Baldachin & Associates LLP (and is a professor at NYU School of Law as well), he pointed out that while he has hasn’t seen any definite contracts yet, Metaverse opportunities are definitely being discussed as a type of brand endorsement. But maybe not in the way that this industry would hope for.
“When you say celebrity, think ‘metaverse celebrity,’” he says. “In other words, it's not necessarily that I care, as an example, what Justin Bieber's avatar looks like. I may care more what some top-notch Fortnite gamer’s avatar. That person is much more popular than whoever or whatever avatar Justin Bieber plays as. This is quite literally a different world, with a different social spectrum.”
And so, while there may be some traction with a IRL celebrity’s avatar, Hand says, he thinks there’s much more brand-endorsement potential for those notables who are fixtures in the Metaverse already and who spend hours in it, not the traditional celebrity contingent of today. “I do have two children who are of gaming age,” he adds. “And so, I see it on screens in my own home. A lot of those (players) are more popular in that world and therefore more viable as a ‘quote’ influencer or brand activation celebrity.”
The sound you hear is Hollywood swallowing hard. Definitely more on this to come.
Thanks for reading, send me your suggestions or just let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s to great beach glam and good luck at the Independent Spirit Awards, and see you back here next weekend.
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