The result was an amped-up campaign to woo, cajole and buy Oscar nominees, presenters and anyone else who might swan down the red carpet in front of the hordes of photographers. And for a time, the payoff, while not necessarily measurable in dollars and cents, was obvious in terms of publicity. Prada entered the popular lexicon thanks to a lilac gown worn by Uma Thurman. Dior got a major jolt when Nicole Kidman wore its chartreuse sheath trimmed in fur. Elie Saab became a footnote in the history books when Halle Berry wore his gown the night of her Oscar win for best actress — the first African American woman so honored. Berry chose Versace for this year’s awards — a striped, black and silver, glittery Bond-girl style gown managed to be va-va-voom yet conservative.
But now, the red carpet is no longer a place for a design house to highlight its most saturated vision. It not only is a partnership between the designer and the actress, it’s also a kind of compromise between Hollywood and Seventh Avenue. Fashion and glamour are two different concepts, and the red carpet is a place where an intellectual or wry approach to style wins no fans. Fashion is about the shock of the new; glamour is defined by desire and mystery.