Oscars 2015

The economy of the red carpet

Sally Herships Feb 20, 2015
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Oscars 2015

The economy of the red carpet

Sally Herships Feb 20, 2015
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We all know designers dress stars for free, and the stars thank them by dropping their name on the red carpet. At least that used to be the deal. Now, there’s the mani cam, the clutch cam. And questions like: Who did your hair? Your jewelry?

The red carpet has become an industry unto itself.

It’s a moneymaker. It’s a moneymaker for the actresses, it’s a moneymaker for the networks cause they’re selling the ads,” says R. Couri Hay, a celebrity publicist. “It’s a moneymaker for the designers, because everybody is aspirational and wants to wear Dior.”

The red carpet, says Hay, offers an irresistible combination for advertisers: movie stars, plus tens of millions of TV viewers and millions more on social media.

“In fact, some actress even talked about her underarm deodorant. It was like unbelievable,” he says.

Actress Kat Graham describes her dress and her Degree deodorant to E’s Giuliana Rancic on the red carpet at the Grammys:

Now some actresses are starting to push back against all the promotion.

At the same awards show as Graham, Nicole Kidman refused to tell Ryan Seacrest who she was wearing. And at the Golden Globes, instead of showing off her manicure, Madmen actress Elizabeth Moss flipped E’s mani-cam the bird.

Hay says the problem might have been a lack of cash changing hands between jewelery companies like Chopard, Tiffany & Co., and Bulgari, and the stars that are paid to hawk their brands. But, then again, he says, the problem might literally be in stars’ hands.

“That mani cam. I hate being cynical, I don’t really want to be catty but, the first thing to go on a woman, is her hands.”

The other thing to go, when stars don’t play along, is what’s known as a red carpet credit — when beauty brands pay stylists a fortune to get their products onto actresses, and mentioned in the pages of beauty magazines.

“It means that you get to say, for example, Angelina Jolie used our brand on the red carpet,” says Tyler Williams, a beauty publicist in New York.

A star’s look, says Williams, can pay off for them too. He says look no farther than Lupita Nyong’o, the young actress who won an Oscar for 12 years a Slave, nailed it on the red carpet, and scored a contract with Lancome. Jennifer Lawrence landed a multi-million dollar deal with Dior.

Then there are the mocktresses.

Merle Ginsberg, who covers style for the Hollywood Reporter, came up with the term.

“Someone like Jessica Alba and Kate Bosworth I don’t think have been in movies for years,” she says. “People pay them to go to parties wearing great clothes and then they send out press releases.”

And we eat up every bit of it. If you have any doubts about the financial future of the red carpet, Tyler Williams says, just look at the magazines lining the checkout aisle at the grocery store.

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