The Academy Awards have become more about the clothes and less about the awards themselves. Too bad all the ensembles are bland creations some stylist picked out. It's time to free ourselves from the tyranny of the Worst Dressed List!
We love to laugh at a red carpet turkey as much as the next person, but the politics of the gowns have become too much to bear. An actress can make or break her career based on what she wears to a big event like Sunday's soiree. But, even more than her personal image—which is far more marketable than actual acting ability these days—her outfit can make or cost the fashion industry tons of money. We all know that celebrities are essential for selling clothes so whether or not the red carpet critics on E! and the editors of Star, Us Weekly, and People deify or despise an outfit translates directly into profit or loss for fashion houses.
This environment has created something of a creative glut among the fashions we see on our favorite stars. They all have people picking out their clothes, telling them what to wear, and steering them toward a safe mediocrity, which keeps them from standing out and being ridiculed, but also prevents them from being avant garde, fashion-forward, or making any sort of fashion statement. It's time to put an end to this middle of the road-iness! Let's make it about the stars again and less about the handful of celebrity stylists who determine the clothes that get pushed on the American public. Take back the red carpet! Here are a few simple rules for making it fun again.
Reward Personal Style: Remember when Sharon Stone threw on some T-shirt from the Gap and created a national craze? Well, we would like more of that, please! We're sure the stars pick out their gowns from a handful of selections a stylist presents to them, but just as many are probably cowed into wearing something they don't love. No more! It's time to celebrate women who wear the things they love. Sure, everyone thinks Tilda Swinton is always wearing some glam sac, but at least she knows what she likes. Same with Diane Keaton and her patented menswear. Charlize Theron is always stunning, even if her giant bows and other affectations might be a little too outre for the tabloid press. Rather than sending them home to cry like so many sixth graders who wore pink on the wrong day of the week, why not try to bolster their eccentricities? The only way we'll get to see something truly interesting is to create an environment that supports risk-taking and individual taste.
Hold the Stylists Accountable: That said, not every star has the knowledge (or self-esteem) to make her own choices, and for those people a stylist might be very helpful. Not only can she call in favors and take some of the work out of it, she might widen a star's sartorial horizons. On the red carpet, everyone's always asking "Who are you wearing? Who are you wearing?" but what they need to start asking now is "Who are you wearing and who picked it out?" Currently, celebrities and designers are given full credit for their successes and they take full responsibility for their failures, and shitty stylists are left blissfully alone to horrendously outfit another day. If there's going to be a middle ground, the stylist needs to be called out. "I'm wearing Roberto Cavalli picked out by Robert Verdi." That way if the dress is a knockout, Verdi gets a little credit for putting it on a walking hanger. If it's a total dud, everyone knows he's a hack and the stars will stop hiring him. We all know stylists' role in this equation, it's time they get some of the credit/blame.
No More Rented Jewels: When judging how our actress look, we're not only figuring in the column of fabric that wraps their famous flesh, but also the necklaces, bracelets, and baubles that go along with them. The problem is that these aren't even theirs. Harry Winston loans them out—often with security guard in tow—so that they can get some exposure. If the most highly paid people on earth can't even afford these adornments, who can? Everyone should have to purchase their own jewels. Not only will it make the bodyguards and designer name-dropping obsolete, but it will make them think long and hard about whether or not their going to wear something. They usually don't own the gowns either, but the cost of a gown is a drop in the bucket compared with the jewels. If it's going to cost them a cool million they're going with something they really love, not something someone told them to slap on to get someone else some free advertising.
No More Shoe Cam: We love a good set of strappy stilettos as much as the next Carrie Bradshaw wannabe, but placing a camera at ground level and making people hike their skirts to show off their soles is just ridiculous. Depending on what the lady is wearing, the shoes aren't readily visible anyway so how about we just leave them alone. After all, with the hair, makeup, outfit, accessories, purse, and other assorted worries, can't we just give them a pass on their shoes, pedicures, cankles, and the rest?
Time for Some Love/Hate for the Men: Like everything else in fashion, women are held to lofty, unattainable standards while men pretty much get a free pass. They've banished the bow tie and maybe ties altogether. They're showing up with ridiculous facial hair contraptions, bad variations on the all-black tuxedo, and generally looking like a bunch of rich hobos who are going to carry their trophies home tied up in a handkerchief on a stick. Time to pay attention to those who do it right (Clooney with his steady glamour; Depp with his bohemian individuality) and publicly shame those sloppy fools who do it wrong (everyone else).
Talent Gets a Pass: For all the winners, give them a night where they can be judged positively for their performance, not negatively for having a bad stylist. And let's give the seasoned actresses—the Sarandons, Denches, the Lorens, even the Adamses—a wide berth (we'd mention Mirren too, but that dame always looks amazing). They're not there to play the fame game, they're there because they earned it. However, Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Megan Fox, the only reason you are there is to look beautiful and wear some crazy couture. If you look like shit, there is just no excuse for us to pay attention to you, so you'd better get it right.