Fashion: Carpet baggers

If you are planning your special occasion outfits for the year ahead, the red carpet really is the best place to check out what does (and doesn’t) work. Stephanie Smith selects favourite looks to steal.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 10th February 2015, 6:00 am
Romola Garai arriving at The EE British Academy Film Awards 2015, at the Royal Opera House, Bow Street, London. PIC: PA
Romola Garai arriving at The EE British Academy Film Awards 2015, at the Royal Opera House, Bow Street, London. PIC: PA

There weren’t too many surprises in terms of award winners and losers at the Baftas this week, but the fashion was quite a different story, as stars young and old, some emerging, others at the height of their powers, turned the red carpet into a catwalk that pulsated with revelations and style -savvy looks.

Once upon a time, the Baftas would reveal only the “meh” dresses, as the stars reserved their very best frocks for the Oscars, having already worn their second-best to the Golden Globes.

These days, both fashion and celebrity are more in demand than ever before. “Who are you wearing?” is a question that even the most serious-minded actors, male and female, both expect and prepare for. As for “Who’s wearing me?”, well, you can bet that’s the question screaming from the lips of fashion designers all across the world, as they pray and pitch for the attentions of those they believe will be photographed most often and, crucially, will look so stunning in their creation that it’s raining massive red carpet ticks for the following few days at least.

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Easier said than done. It just takes one over-enthusiastic stylist, or perhaps even the star herself, to make an ill-judged last minute accessory switch – say, adding a wide brown leather belt to bring in the waist – and that’s your delicate floaty gown all ruined and mocked on the style pages. So unfair.

And then there’s making sure that the star you really want will choose your gown, with some of the nominees having dozens to choose from. Most stars have stylists to source and put together their looks, and these have become very powerful people indeed within the fashion world. The ability to match the right actress with the right profile and look to the right designer is a skill much in demand.

So why does it matter so much to designers? Well, leaving aside the fact that the red carpets, whether for the Baftas, the Globes or the supreme Oscars, are seen by far more people than even the most prestigious runway shows at Paris, Milan and New York, designers know that most women – including their potential customers – would much rather see beautiful gowns on “real” actresses than on identikit six foot, 18-year-old, size zero models. The red carpet is the best catwalk in the world.

Great looks to take from the Baftas for your own special events include the colour lilac, which was massive catwalk news for spring/summer ‘15, but has been made sense of on the red carpet by Belle actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Then there’s how to do Seventies’ inspired glamour, as demonstrated so stunningly by Julianne Moore in a tomato-red Tom Ford gown with plunging neckline and Rosamund Pike in a black halterneck maxi, although she also turned heads for her “haircut of 2015”, the WOB (wavy bob). Keira Knightley’s floral monochrome look by Giambattista Valli was party perfect, while Romola Garai showed how to pair orange and mint with real flair.