The History of the Red Carpet

Posted on March 01, 2010

“Who are you wearing?”

Darlings, we think it’s safe to assume that if you’re a T Lo minion, you more than likely have an interest in fashion on the red carpet. After all, the topic comprises probably close to 50% of our current content. And with the Oscars looming on the horizon, the intersection of fashion and Hollywood is once again on a lot of minds.

First,
“Many believe that the first designer/celebrity collaboration was the famous pairing of Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy, which began with work on “Sabrina” in 1953 and continued throughout the star’s life. But Marlene Dietrich and Christian Dior would disagree. The two, who had become close after being introduced by Jean Cocteau, formed a mutually beneficial relationship. In 1951, when she was asked to present the winner for foreign-language film, Dietrich had a problem. She was seen as an aging star who, at almost 50, was on the down slope of her career. But she had a superb sense of style and, with Dior, she hatched a plan to take the Oscar stage by storm. Having researched what the other actresses would be wearing through an insider source, Dietrich knew that the predominant motif was going to be fluffy pastels and beading. So she and Dior opted for dark and minimalist. In the Aug. 18, 1952, Life magazine article, “Dietrich and Her Magic Myth,” written by Winthrop Sargeant, Dietrich further explains how she and Dior devised their plan for her walk across the stage: “Mamma is going to wear black … so Mamma had better be slinky — nice, black.”

The two left no detail unattended. Dior asked whether Dietrich would be entering the stage from the right or from the left. Why? Because he needed to know where to slit her skirt to show off her gorgeous gams. The answer: stage left. As Dietrich came onstage to present the award, she received a standing ovation. What caused the rise from the seats? The sleeveless bolero, showing her décolletage, a nipped waist, a silk velvet bow swaying on her hip, and the figure-hugging ensemble that showed off her “stage-left” leg. It was Dietrich who made the headlines the next day, not the nominees. One observer said it was a shame there’d been no medal for glamour.”

Now THAT is a fucking diva. Bow down. Go and read the whole thing here.

Also on the horizon, and something we are very much looking forward to, is the upcoming documentary on the Sundance Channel, “The Red Carpet Issue.” Sundance describes it thusly:

“Sundance Channel celebrates the Oscars on March 7th with the provocative documentary The Red Carpet Issue. An insightful documentary about the relationship between Hollywood and high-end fashion, The Red Carpet Issue looks at the transformation of the red carpet ceremony from a private event into a media phenomenon and multi-million dollar business. The documentary features interviews with red carpet veterans Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Monica Bellucci, Milla Jovovich, Perez Hilton and many more.”

Ugh. We could have done without that last name. At any rate, there are some clips and because we love you, we’ve embedded them. Try and get past the narrator’s accent. Thankfully, he doesn’t talk too much.

One of the more notable points made here was the idea that, since actors don’t walk down the street looking glamorous anymore and they don’t make glamorous movies (for the most part) anymore, the public has had an ever-increasing desire to see glamour on the red carpet, which is why its importance has exploded in the last ten or 15 years.

Although frankly, we’ve always maintained that the entire fashion industry and entertainment journalism industry owes a huge debt to none other than Joan and Melissa Rivers. It’s never going to be acknowledged by anyone, but the very idea of red carpet reporting as well as the oft-repeated question “Who are you wearing?” pretty much originated with those two. In typical Hollywood fashion, once they established this new genre of fashion and entertainment reporting they were summarily shoved aside so we can now be treated to the execrable Ryan Seacrest or Giuliana Rancic, two of the blandest, most vapid “personalities” (and we use that word very loosely) one can be subjected to. As always, mass entertainment progresses in a straight line from the interesting and challenging to the bland and watered-down. Don’t you worry, Joan. The gays haven’t forgotten.

The Red Carpet Issue airs this Thursday, March 4, at 7 PM ET, which makes it a perfect way to lead into Project Runway later that night. Maybe we should all hang out in the T Lounge while we watch it.


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[Photos: latimes.com - Videos: sundancechannel.com]

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