Ever wonder what it's like to be among the throngs of gorgeous celebrities, big-shot directors, influential producers, and other Hollywood luminaries on the red carpet? Here, in this essay republished from 2014, InStyle's Fashion News Director Eric Wilson tells you exactly what it's like.
Pictured, above: Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn walks the red carpet at the 2014 Golden Globes.
Last year, during the early hours of excitement and anticipation that lead up to the start of the Golden Globes red carpet, I was asked, on camera for an online video, one of those hard-hitting questions that we of the professional fashion reporting leagues dread most.
What color will everyone be wearing?
“Red,” I said.
It was a total guess, I must confess, but at least it was a somewhat educated one. Preparing for the Globes, the first major event of the annual awards season, is an understandably daunting process for the many stars, nominees, presenters, and hosts involved, but so too does it present challenges for those of us who write about the fashion.
A lot of people ask what it’s like to cover awards season, and the short answer is that it is, for the most part, as glamorous and fun as it looks. But it is not easy. First and foremost, the job is to figure out what everyone is wearing, then quickly articulate the trends, and, as difficult as it may be without stepping on a few toes, pick the evening’s best dresses. This requires a lot of homework, including a thorough study of all the potential red carpet looks from the major designer collections, gossiping with stylists and publicists about who might be wearing what in advance, and scouring celebrities’ past outfit selections (and, in some cases, their makeup and fragrance contracts with various houses) for possible clues.
On the ground at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where the awards take place and where InStyle and Warner Brothers host the biggest after-party of the night, the scene looks almost nothing like you might guess from watching on television.
Imagine being deposited into the arrivals hall of an airport in some exotic destination where you do not speak the language, and being quickly funneled into a labyrinth of red carpets depending on your level of clearance, an access badge that in this case serves as your passport. The stars have global entry, but if your face is less known, confusing signage will point you in any number of destinations besides the one in which you wish to go. En route, you might snatch a glimpse through a windowed corridor of actual red carpet, with the press organized by hierarchy in haphazard corrals that might have been designed by M.C. Escher. Or you might, as I once did, wind up in an electrical closet by mistake.
Oh, but it is glamorous, with celebrities everywhere. The night itself goes by in a flash, even more so since the advent of the digital age. While Instagram and Twitter have made it easier to confirm dress details in real time, they have also contributed to the surreal experience, for reporters anyway, of watching the proceedings as much on their phones as they do in person. Amid the revelry, there are interviews scheduled minute-by-minute, dispatches to post to the website, photos to select for print and online and elsewhere. It takes some getting used to, but ultimately, we end up seeing everything.
Case in point: Red turned out to be correct.
Somehow, the gods of the color wheel were smiling last year and delivered a parade of crimson and scarlet gowns, most memorably Lupita Nyong’o’s body-hugging Ralph Lauren dress with matching cape, Amy Adams in the two-tone Valentino Haute Couture halter with its plunging neckline, and Emma Watson’s clever Dior Haute Couture dress that was split down the back to reveal the black cigarette trousers she wore beneath (pictured above, from L-R).
Just don’t ask me what to expect this year.