Archive for January, 2008

January 14, 2008

The Green Carpet

If this were a normal year, you would now would be reading my list of the best and worst dressed celebrities at the Golden Globes in this space.

But this is not a normal year. To show their solidarity with the striking writers in Hollywood, the stars refused to cross the union picket lines and therefore the show was essentially canceled and reduced to a press conference in which the winners were announced last night.

Oh, and the cancellation of the awards presentation meant the cancellation of something apparently even more important: the red carpet.

As soon as the news of the cancellation broke, the focus of the story in the entertainment media has been how the absence of all those designer-clad celebrities would impact, not the movie industry, but the fashion business!

My phone started ringing and my email filled with urgent requests from reporters from TMZ, The New York Daily News and, from London, The Independent.

What are the financial implications of the cancellation of the red carpet for the fashion industry? How much money will the designers, the stylists, the hair and makeup people lose? How important is awards season to a designer? Who has the most to lose?

Let’s answer the easiest questions first. Top notch hair and makeup artists charge on average $300-$400 an hour and they work with several clients on that day.
Not this year.

Fashion stylists who dress the stars you’re most likely to care about, charge between $5,000 to $10,000 per client. Not this year.

Now, for the rest of the questions, here’s the real answer: the red carpet has now become a purely business arrangement between designers who loan the top stars and nominees free clothes in exchange for the free publicity. Dress the right star, or one of the winners in the right dress, and you can parlay that into at least a month’s worth of free publicity for your brand.

First you have all the televised red carpet events where you are explicitly asked “who are you wearing?” Then comes the awards show which is televised to hundreds of millions of homes worldwide. After the awards ceremony, you have the daily newspaper (and now, web) coverage in which the winners and the otherwise beautifully dressed usually appear on the front page.

Then, during the following week, magazines like Us Weekly and People (and their international counterparts) will do a special coverage issue of who wore what and by whom. And then of course, the monthly magazines like InStyle, W (and their international counterparts) will add to the month long frenzy.

Given that a single page ad in a national magazine costs tens of thousands of dollars, a designer can get hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, of free publicity.

Given that putting on a runway presentation during fashion week twice a year costs designers money, free is a very sweet deal, indeed.

So, given the numbers game that is being played, the designers with the most to lose are the young and emerging designers who have little or no money to advertise month after month in the fashion glossies. They count on this kind of publicity to propel their business and name recogniton.

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time(10-15 years ago is when it all began to change) when actors picked out and payed for their own clothes and jewelry. One can’t imagine that Elizabeth Taylor was showing up at these events in borrowed jewelry. Those days seem quaint now.

So you see my friends, they don’t call it show business for nothing!