Hollywood stylists are bemoaning the loss of the virtual red carpet, with the news that the Oscars will be a small live event with no Zoom element to it.
A letter from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released to the film industry website Deadline said: “Our plan is to stage an intimate, in-person event at Union station in Los Angeles, with additional show elements live from the Dolby theatre in Hollywood.”
“You’re wondering about the dress code (as well you should),” added the letter, signed by the ceremony’s producers, including the director Steven Soderbergh. “We’re aiming for a fusion of inspirational and aspirational, which in actual words means formal is totally cool if you want to go there, but casual is really not.”
Virtual red carpets, which have taken place mainly via Instagram, have been liberating for stylists. “It has given us a lot of control as stylists as we’ve been able to manipulate lighting, angles and backgrounds to our liking,” said Wayman Bannerman from the duo Wayman + Micah who dressed Regina King for the Emmys and Critics’ Choice awards.
“I have really enjoyed the way some celebs and their stylists have turned that platform into full-fledged fashion shoots,” said Heather Cocks, a fashion commentator.
“There is a definite fashion bright side to a virtual carpet in that truly anything goes from barefoot in pyjamas to full-on couture,” agreed Elizabeth Stewart, who dressed Viola Davis and Amanda Seyfried for the Golden Globes.
“Virtual dressing has pushed us to think more outside the box and have more fun, whether it be through colours or silhouettes,” added Bannerman.
Since the pandemic began, the entertainment industry has been struggling with dress codes for virtual award ceremonies. At the Grammys, many embraced full red-carpet looks again with the exception of John Legend, who celebrated his best R&B album win while wearing a Versace bathrobe.
“I’m not sure why the Oscars decided to treat everyone like children,” said Cocks. “Also, come on: You’re really not going to let in Viola Davis or Carey Mulligan if they show up in jeans? Sure, Jan. Honestly, all it’s done is make me wish that all the invitees would show up en masse in flannel nightgowns and Ugg slippers, just to thumb their noses at it.”
Stewart is looking on the bright side. “Not only should the dress code honour the occasion of this very prestigious award show, but the red carpet can also be a show of support for the fashion industry, which has really suffered during the past year.”
The ceremony, which will have a Covid safety team with PCR testing capability to hand, will take place on 26 April.