Half a wall at the Hollywood showroom of a well-known shoe designer was empty last week, as dozens of pairs of footwear were called out by stylists for their celebrity clients.
The big event? Comic-Con - a previously male-skewed, geek-driven nerd fest in San Diego that suddenly has A-listers such as Sandra Bullock, Emily Blunt and Jennifer Lawrence showing up in their sartorial finest.
By that Monday, however, the shoes were back at said showroom - but not for long. Over the next few weeks, designers' racks all over town, as well as in New York, London, Paris and Milan, will be raided in anticipation of a little thing called the Emmys, which will kick off awards season in earnest.
Stylists have between now and September 22 to rustle up the most amazing frocks for their clients, gowns that will divert cameras off the other nominees, for what is an awards-night red carpet but really an unmitigated "it's all about me" moment.
"It's starting to get crazy," said a blonde blogger who cornered me at a pool party at the home of one of those "Extreme Makeover"-type cosmetic surgeons (in front of whom just about the last thing you'd want to do is strip down to a bathing suit). With exactly eight weeks to go before the big night, favours are being called in, stylists are being poached, and some actresses are determined to finally wave goodbye to those niggling worst-dressed lists. (We're looking at you, Lena Dunham.)
Sure, there are always the ladies who get it right - Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Julianne Moore, Sofia Vergara. But, really, do we need to see another exquisite bias-cut gown in a pretty spring shade with bugle beading? Aren't these just the sort of things that designers can render (and probably do), with their eyes closed and one arm strapped behind their back? Those red carpets don't need any more Marchesa tulle or Dior sleekness, thank you very much.
A far more intriguing challenge: toss out the gorgeous gowns, and go for something "interesting" instead, something that will have people not gushing about its rainbow-hued but instead has them asking, "do you think she pulled that off?" Because the worst - and best - thing that can happen is that the answer will be "no".
But that's certainly not going to stop stylists from trying. Sure, the likes of Armani and Balenciaga will inundate Hollywood celebrity stylists with options over the next few weeks. After all, who doesn't want to dress "it" actress of the moment Kerry Washington, or the always perfectly turned-out Claire Danes? And it's not as if actresses aren't courted all year long by mega-brands: they are flown to Europe for shows, put up at the finest hotels, wined and dined and swagged till they can't carry their own bags. All of this with one goal in mind: come awards season, the designers infer, you'd better remember us.
It will take a special sort of actress to hold out for that one unknown designer, who wears something because it is fun and special and adventurous, and not because a luxury brand has basically sponsored her body.
It's worth watching the Emmys just for that.