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May 2, 2016

Things I Don't Get, Vol. 18 -- Red-Carpet Fashion Obsession



Tonight's the night, readers!

It's the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit, which coincides with the opening of the Institute's latest show, "Manus X Machine: Fashion in an Age of Technology."

The red carpet portion of this gala event is being televised live on the E! network.  And you can bet there will be countless critiques of who-was-wearing-what (or whom?) on fashion blogs and TV tabloid shows the following day. 

I don't understand our current obsession with celebrity red-carpet fashion.  I like to look at over-the-top ballgowns as much as the next person -- wait: strike that.  I suspect I am much, much less interested than the next person, depending, naturally, on who the next person is.  Laura Mae, for example, who really knows vintage glamour, writes detailed, pointed critiques of these kind of events that I find educational and fun. 



But most of the time, this sort of who-wore-what fetish turns me off.  These events feel like yet another opportunity for celebrities and the fashion houses who (often) pay to dress them to promote themselves.  The toll it takes on the celebrities themselves can also be, apparently, a heavy one; that's a topic I never really thought about.  (Botoxing armpits -- yuck.)



What is the casual observer supposed to take away from all the media attention these extravaganzas are given?  Yes, some of the gowns are very beautiful.  But is the point to showcase couture craft or just to grab some headlines?





There have been movie premieres and staged media events for decades.  Celebrity culture isn't really new (People magazine has been around since 1974, and before that there were magazines like Photoplay and Modern Screen.)  I ask myself why these red-carpet events are so prominent at this particular time in history.  (Need for click-bait?) 

In closing, readers, three questions:

1) How interested are you in red carpet fashions, whether broadcast live on TV or critiqued in a post-event blog post?

2) What do you take away -- if anything -- from these sort of staged events?

3) Do glamour girls in gowns inspire your sewing or personal style in any way or simply set an unrealistic standard of beauty (and bodies) -- much like the beauty pageants of yore?

Jump in!

You can read an interesting history of the red carpet here.

UPDATE: Read Laura Mae's take on the 2016 Met gala here.

50 comments:

  1. When the majority of my daily "fashion" consists of pajamas and workout wear (seriously, moms, is it THAT hard to put on actual clothes for school drop-off?!) I do enjoy seeing high fashion every now and again. It's just fun.

    Having said that, it's really a shame celebrities feel the need to practically injure themselves to get a look. It says a lot of awful things about us as a society.

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  2. i'm with you. don't get it. at all. i'm more impressed with how gorgeous/handsome the actors are than what they are wearing, and even if i do learn which designer made it, it really doesn't make any difference to me.

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  3. I'm so bored with ballgowns, and I miss the days when celebrities didn't have to wear them.

    I came across this slideshow recently -- red-carpet Molly Ringwald is my hero. http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/02/vintage-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion.html

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  4. Being of a "certain age", I used to enjoy looking at photos of red carpet fashions because the nominees strove to look their most elegant. I read an article years ago that Joanne Woodward made the gown she wore when she received her Oscar. Just imagine the reaction if an actress did that today!

    Nowadays it seems everyone is trying to outdo the others with glitzy trash. Good taste has become the exception rather than the rule. :(

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  5. I have no interest in the red carpet thing or the obsession with celebrities in general. So, 1) zero, 2) nothing, 3) no.

    The Beyonce gown and those similar looks seem to be more about attention and press coverage than fashion. How will it all look 50 years from now? Silly or excessive, or both perhaps.

    I also have to say, I miss when there were actual models on the covers of fashion magazine. The supermodel thing has been way overblown as well, but I would still rather see a model. I've heard that they sell more when there are celebrities on the cover, but it often turns me off.

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  6. I suspect most of us observe these sorts of spectacles with a detached bemusement, if at all. I don't think they say much about society (I think most people have a healthy suspicion of celebrities and their desperate, grasping culture, one whose seeming credo is that the worst publicity is none), except perhaps that we live in a time and place that can afford meaningless and often crass entertainment often at odds with our better judgment; when the carpets are rolled up and the tinsel swept, we are left to guess whether this discrepancy is via sincerity or ignorance. And that we discuss them at all could be construed a victory, I suppose.

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  7. I enjoy the parade for what it is. The underwear as clothing (see how I just told you exactly how old I am there?) I'm not interested in, because I am not a trainer or a plastic surgeon. But I will always show up to see what Dita von Teese wears.
    So yes, I'll be checking it out. Tomorrow. On Twitter.

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  8. I used to watch for the gowns, but lately it just seems that it's really who is the most overdone or shows the most skin and not who looks classy and elegant

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  9. One giant co-dependent PR stunt on the part of the celebrities and whoever they are wearing. That's it, that;s all.

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  10. I think it's nice to look at these couture pieces for what they are but it is the obsession with celebrity culture which takes it to the next level currently. we are mesmerised by photographs of people we don't know, attending a party we weren't invited too - this is not healthy!

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  11. You should check out the trailer for the documentary, "The First Monday in May". You still may not "get it", but it should open up a little more understanding of the MET Gala Ball in general.

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  12. Don't care, won't watch, waste of time. Even on project runway I don't care about red carpet gowns. I want something interesting that I can wear out and about, to work, whatever. Let's see some interesting stuff there!

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  13. It is often helpful to know that you can fashion a coat from a pea trellis.

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  14. I don't care I LOVE IT! The spectacle, the dresses, the drama, sign me up! I think it's just fashion hyped up to fantasy level and it makes me smile! We all have something we enjoy, this is mine. Feel the same way about the red carpet at the Oscars!

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    1. I agree. I love to look at the styles of dresses and construction details. And I love the reviews. Yes!

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  15. Utterly AnonymousMay 2, 2016 at 7:39 PM

    As painful as it is to admit, Laura Mae's takes, and take-downs, are on-point, and amusing.

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  16. I'm not interested in seeing it live, as I think that any of the red carpet interviewers are boring. What I DO love is reading Tom and Lorenzo's recaps of this kind of thing - Oscars, Golden Globes, and the Met Gala. They have an excellent grasp of fashion and its role in society, and are more than willing to focus as much on the men as the ladies. An event such as the Met Gala is interesting to me because it always has a theme and I like to see how the attendees interpret that theme. And sometimes it's just good to laugh at ridiculous gowns/ensembles - like when the K-word that shall not be named wore that flowered dress and gloves while pregnant and she looked as though she was hiding in a sofa slipcover; proof that even celebrities are not immune to fashion faux-pas.

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  17. I think I'm not that interested in it. Sometimes I look at fashion recaps on the internet. But not always. I love pretty dresses, but so many of the celebs any more are just half-naked and tacky! (Like three of the examples above!) It seems like a desperate bid for attention: LOOK AT ME!

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  18. I'm with Carolyn, it's fantasy and at it's best, it's a beautiful spectacle. It has nothing to do with anyone's real life but who cares?

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  19. It was a lot more fun before the stars had stylists. in the 70s and 80s, people showed up in tacky things like Demi Moore's bike shorts, for example. It seems more calculated now. Though in the 50s, the stars were dressed by the studios for these events.

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  20. Nowadays too many of them look like nothing more than high-priced call girls! Everyone is so blatant with the trashy nudity, nothing is left to the imagination anymore!! Whatever happened to elegance and class???!!!

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    1. Testify!

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    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4qOBJk1hiI

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  21. I lost interest in celebrities when I had kids and, therefore, something important tot think about. In fact, the last time I watched the Oscars was after I had my son and Gwenyth wore that pink dress. I hate the "naked" dresses so much. I have serious body issues and my daughter, thanks to media, is developing her own. Why do the heavier ladied never show up for fancy events? Is Melissa McCarthy really that busy?

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  22. I found the red carpet much more interesting in the days before everyone had a stylist. Fashion choices were more idiosyncratic for good and for ill.

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  23. I look to see what's considered "in" so that I will dress appropriately for my next red carpet event (in my next life)! Actually, I do browse the photos online to see what I like and usually find little that I would wear if I had the opportunity. What strikes me is that very few of the women look like they are having a good time! There are very few smile and some women actually look like they are in pain. I know that if somebody dressed me up like that and pointed me to the red carpet, you would not be able to wipe the smile off my face!

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  24. Okay, I just read that article on The Guardian, and for chrissakes gimmie a break. I do understand (on a much smaller level) the pressure to look perfect as an actress-- but if you find me on a juice diet, getting my spray tan on for a red carpet, please smack me in the face with the scratchiest bolt of lurex you can find.

    That said, I do love looking at red carpet fashion! BUT! Not so much reading about it. The "reviews" are part of what fuel the body prep insanities, and I've yet to read a rundown without some snark in it. I wonder if the inhuman look of many of the celebs makes it easier to be less humane towards them (how many celebs do you catch smiling on the carpet? Smiling = lines, lines = human).

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  25. While I enjoy looking at the outfits, perhaps costumes would be a better word, I do not go out of my way to watch the award shows, or the shows that dissect who wore what. As for the recent spate of sparkles (barely) strategically glued to net - Cher beat them to it years ago and did it to it's tacky best, courtesy of Bob Mackie.

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  26. What Anonymous said"As for the recent spate of sparkles (barely) strategically glued to net - Cher beat them to it years ago and did it to it's tacky best, courtesy of Bob Mackie.' -Followed by what Cher said in her farewell tour "Follow this, you bitches" because Cher was first and fabulous at tacky...the rest are just "wannabes"

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  27. I do enjoy seeing formal gowns on the red carpet, because I don't have any black tie opportunities in my real life. However, enough with the Naked Dresses. I think they're humiliating, no matter how gorgeous or statured the actress who is wearing them. It's like a screaming reminder that, no matter how much a woman achieves in her career, she really is only valued as an object so all assets must be on display.

    Now, there are a few MEN I'd like to see dressed in see-through mesh with a few strategically placed rhinestones and feathers... ;-)

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    1. Oh, Rebecca, wasn't my boxtop/calchemise enough? ;)

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  28. I'll look at pictures of gowns usually on Tom&Lorenzo but I don't watch any of the awards shows and they don't inspire any of my sewing.

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  29. I'm so-so interested.... I enjoy seeing well-made clothing that is beautiful. This thing of wearing so-called clothing that leaves very little to the imagination? Nope, not impressed. I don't follow any particular designer, and once I've gotten a glimpse of the gowns I'm done.

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  30. I often like the actual dresses, but I don't like the culture, and I especially don't like it now that I know everyone is getting botoxed and juice-fasted and so on. I'd much rather see people looking sort of a "normal best". And I'd like the naked dresses much more with slips, because honestly I don't like leering at strangers' bodies, and you can't very well look at all the pretty sequining without de facto leering if the wearer isn't wearing a slip.

    I really dislike the intrusiveness of the whole thing, actually - the idea that a celebrity needs to make their whole body, at the most intimate level, into a commodity for public consumption. It's creepy like reading someone's private text messages is personal, only more so because it's about money. I can't enjoy looking at famous people or fancy dresses if I feel like the famous person's whole life has been reduced to a brand. It's like looking at a robot would be, only you know that the robot actually has feelings and individual subjectivity.

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    1. I find it a little creepy too. Also when you know everything about a celebrity's personal life, it becomes hard to watch them acting and believe they are the character. I sometimes enjoy watching foreign films since I din't know their stars. It helps me suspend reality and imagine them as the person they portray. I can't see someone dressed in Gucci and on magazine covers and then see them in a movie and believe they are poor, friendless and uncool, the person next door.

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  31. Agree that these events have become little more than marketing exercises for designers and celebrities, with everybody pulling out the stops to grab the attention of jaded media persons...I used to check out these events (the day after) because I am interested in elegant dressmaking details - especially as worn by women of a certain age, Now it's just to see who is the biggest train wreck (tough competition this year, but I think the prize has to go to Madonna). Really struck this year by how uncomfortable the clothes look. You couldn't sit in many of them, or walk, or even stand for very long in those shoes. People, what are we thinking?

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  32. Why is it that only the women get to wear unique garments? Is it really only a black or white suit that is appropriate for men to wear?

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  33. I don't watch the event live, but I spend a good amount of time following up the next couple of days on what everyone was wearing. I studied dressmaking seriously and have a fascination with couture, so I am vested in what people are wearing. However, I want to see what they are *wearing* -- all this see-through nonsense goads me to no end. Is that truly a requisite for this? Some of this stuff is absolute nonsense and I can't believe that for someone who has as many gay friends as Madonna has, nobody stopped her. And I never, ever need to see anyone's sternum on the red carpet ever again.

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  34. I think those that are interested in fashion love watching these kinds of events, and what one likes is subjective. I don't watch fashion red carpet shows and don't watch award ceremonies either. I use to when I was younger but have no interest now. I will browse magazines and look at gowns because I know I will never wear one and would never be at any place so fancy to wear one anyway. It is fun looking. Maybe if men wore low cut shirts at the back, a bit of glittery fabric and a touch of tulle I might watch.

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  35. Over the weekend we had the White House Correspondents Association dinner in DC, and in the Post there were lots of pictures of celebrities and some ordinary people and what they wore. My favorite was the Japanese press representative, who wore a Mom-made kimono, and a self-made hairpiece. It made my day, seeing her picture and description there.

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  36. Not interested in those dresses!! They are just sheer fabric over beautiful bodies, Add expensive diamonds and you are finished, nothing to do with fashion.

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  37. Wow! I suppose you picked these particular pictures for a reason... Obviously, I am not interested in dresses which seem to have no other purpose than to showcase as much unrealistically sculpted skin as possible, of which you show a whopping three examples here. And the standard red carpet fare of strapless dresses... yawn... But that sort-of-Asian-inspired, sort-of-futuristic completely unpractical dress and evening coat worn by the dark haired lady in the second picture is a different story. I don't know who she is but that is the sort of thing to wear to an event like this. If there is to be a red carpet event for a museum exhibition about fashion, surely this is one case where the clothes should shine, not the celebrities.

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  38. Since I've been living without cable or even general access to TV for almost a decade now, the most exposure I have to the red carpet is through photos and other people's coverage. I enjoy seeing interesting gowns, but I don't exactly go out of my way to look for them, if that makes any sense. Mostly I enjoy them for the inspiration I can get. Sometimes I'll see interesting details or colors that can be incorporated into other projects.

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  39. The photos of glum, pained celebs in outrageous nearly nude outfits inspires pity--the clothes are wearing these people. I'm more interested in people wearing great clothes and having a great time but these shows don't look like anyone is having fun. A dress you can't dance in is a waste of fabric, and the whole thing is a show of ignorance--about what should be private, about the value of the public eye, about the way to use technical couture skills. I don't go out of my way to watch any of this but I love the elegant couture of the eras when women wore the clothes, not the clothes wearing the women. Kris

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  40. I do enjoy the red carpet coverage of movie premiers and the Met Gala if only for the witty commentary of people like bloggers Tom and Lorenzo or the Fug Girls. I guess I like it more for the quality of the writing about it than the fashion itself. I also like how it sometimes reveals things about the personalities of the celebrities...how Kristen Stewart always looks kind of bored with it for example, or how Tom Hiddleston always looks cheerful and beautifully dressed and groomed even when many male celebrities can't be bothered. Just my point of view. Claudia W

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