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Carnivale de Couture - Film & Fashion. It's Oscar Season which Means One Thing...No, not the Actual Films. Please. We're Talkin' Red Carpet. FASHIONTRIBES FASHION BLOG

Carnivale_mask_1  This week's Carnivale de Couture is being hosted by the always fabulous & completely non-knocked off Counterfeit Chic. This week's topic

Goodbye, Mardi Gras, hello Lent.  Today the last lost beads and stray feathers of Carnival are being swept off streets from Venezia to Rio to New Orleans.  Here in the fashion blogosphere, however, the Carnivale of Couture (and of course, the Paris Pret-a-Porter) goes on! 

In honor of the Academy Awards, our natural theme is Film & Fashion in all of its technicolor glory.  So put on your directors' chapeaux and cue your thoughts on

    • runways, red carpets, and creativity (or lack thereof)
    • what makes a red carpet faux pas (duplicate dresses?!)
    • designers v. directors, stylists v. celebrities -- who starts fashion trends?
    • your favorite film/fashion collaborations of all time
    • why film is an "art" and fashion a "craft"
    • Hollywood, Bollywood, and Hong Kong -- the global film/fashion conection
    • and, of course, Oscar Night.

RUNWAYS, RED CARPETS & CREATIVITY There's no question that today's red carpet - replete with gorgeously-gowned actresses in six or more figures worth of dresses, shoes, and bling - is far more elegant, appropriate even, than the era where stars like Geena Davis and Darryl Hannah were actually permitted to pick out their big-night outfits. While the prevailing sentiment is to decry just how boring the red carpet is today, the fact is, these ensembles are the work of some of the fashionworld's most creative stylists. Days are spent gathering together frock options, myriad shoes, and tracking down just the right jewelry to complement everything, not to mention the additional hours spent creating the perfect hair & makeup. It all starts with the gown, and the look is developed from there. I think it's wonderful that designers are given such a chance to reach a wide audience when their gowns are worn on the red carpet - it's worthy payback & recognition of just how much of a celeb's image is determined by the clothes on their back.

The runways, however, are a different matter. In the past, many creative collections that were initially critical duds - hello Marc Jacobs's first grunge collection in the early 90s - turned out to be watershed moments which changed the entire direction of fashion. However, this is an increasingly rare situation as designers the world over face increasing pressure to turn a profit for their employer. And as any artistic type knows, fear is an anaethema to creativity. Of the main four fashionweeks - New York, London, Milan, Paris - only one, the French, still thankfully allow for some creative experimentation. Hopefully, with less pressures on them from corporate behemoths, alternative fashionweeks such as Dublin and Australia can fill the dearth of creativity plaguing the Big 4.

THE RED CARPET FAUX PAS DEFINED Like the snicker-worthy family photos of those powder blue & polyester weddings of the 70s, or the multi-hued eyeshadow, stirrup pants & enormous hair and shoulder pad extravaganzas of the 1980s - anything too extreme usually a faux pas makes. Celebs need to realize they and their image are a product, and a product needs to be marketed properly. A key part of marketing: presentation. Truth-be-told, none of us really wants to see the celeb we dig as they truly appear in private (dishevelled, bad hair/skin, droopy). No, part of the reason they earn millions is because they deliver the perfection that we, the people, expect. Especially on the red carpet. This is no time for experimentation or personal expression. The smart celeb hires a team of image professionals, and gets out of their way. Red-carpet-woe be to the A-, B-, or C-lister who mistakes this appearance as anything other than work.

SO WHO STARTS THE FASHION TRENDS, ANYWAY? Trends have two main sources: celebrities and fashion editorials. However, behind both lurks the stylist. From what "real people" wear in ads for consumer products, to what a star sports to the Oscars, to what the Desperate Housewives ared wardrobed in (and before them Carrie Bradshaw & company), to the fashion spreads in glossy magazines, the fashion image is the work of a small handful of stylists - an extremely powerful group. While Sex and the City made Christian Louboutin a household name, the one who put his kicks there was stylist Patricia Fields. If you dig Madonna's look, thank Andrea Lieberman. While the directors & magazines provide a platform, it is the stylists that are the creative engine driving many of the fashion trends.

THE BEST FILM & FASHION COLLABORATIONS EVER In the heydey of old Hollywood - those sharp suits & oh those hats - no one would argue that designers like Adrian & Edith Head made style legends out of mere starlets. And today? For her work on Sex & the City, Patricia Field deserves every award known to man. With four distinct characters who must have had upwards of 50 costume changes each per episode, she managed to not only give them distinct visual identities, but almost every outfit was one that - were it similar to your own particular style & you had the money - you would absolutely want to own. And she performed said wardrobe magic week after week after week. An unbelievable - and unbelievably influential (remember that sudden craze for gold nameplate necklaces?) - collaboration.

HOLLYWOOD, BOLLYWOOD & HONG KONG Bollywood is the largest film industry in the world, and many of their exuberant love story movies are filmed in...yes, Switzerland. (A homegrown industry has even sprung up of Indian tourists visiting Swiss shooting locations.) When Hollywood considers financing a blockbuster,it's the anticipated international receipts that are the most important part of the bottom line. And the single largest film star the world over? Hong Kong's own manic action hero, Jackie Chan. Because geography has become such a fluid concept and the world one big global village, one might predict that the wardrobes from each movie hub would converge & eventually become homogeneous. Interestingly, it's just the opposite. Many Bollywood movies feature gorgeous saris which are not prevalent in Western cities. And the spate of movies out of Hong Kong set in a China of many hundreds of years ago require historical costumes. Which leaves Hollywood to make movies featuring today's streetwear. Interestingly, the wardrobes from the different movie hubs seem, in some ways, to continue developing unique & distinct identities.

- Lesley Scott

March 3, 2006 in Blog Report, Fashion, Pop Culture, Weblogs | Permalink

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