Immediately after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, there was a discernible shift in how celebs appeared on the red carpet: looks were played down, there was less bling and demure cocktail frocks replaced resplendent glamour. Given that the US is now in the midst of its worst economic downturn in recent history, speculation has been rife that award ceremonies will be afflicted with the same malaise. After all, how can an A-list star show up at the Golden Globes decked out in couture when people at home can barely afford to pay the phone bill? As it turns out, in true Hollywood fashion, nothing's going to get in the way of a good party, least of all a country teetering on bankruptcy. 'Everyone thought the Golden Globes would be more toned down,' says jewellery designer Loree Rodkin, 'but it was flashier than ever.' After all, the show must go on. Assuming that people tune in as much to see who's wearing what as to watch their favourites pick up awards, it's hardly going to boost ratings to have the likes of Angelina Jolie and Kate Winslet trot down the red carpet in simple black dresses. Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony is Hollywood's biggest night. Recessionary fashion? Hollywood doesn't think so. 'In the day and age of cutbacks and recession, does celebrity still matter?' says Sara Stein, co-founder of LA Fashion Week. 'Celebrity has always been aspiration and borderline fantasy, an opportunity to escape. And although today any abuse of excessive spending and gluttony is grounds to turn off your television, at the end of the day this is Hollywood.' It helps to keep it all in perspective. Most of the expensive frocks and million-dollar bling on show are on loan and are returned at the end of the night. This is another core component of awards season. Those red carpets - be they at the Golden Globes, the Emmys or the Oscars - are considered the most visible and potent showcases in the world. It's not surprising that designers leap over one another to get a dress onto an A-lister's back; the entire world will see it. And, in better times, there has been a tangible link between a fabulous award night frock or piece of jewellery and sales thereafter: Sharon Stone famously sparked a run on Gap stores worldwide when she appeared at the 1996 Oscars wearing a US$26 black turtleneck sweater with a Vera Wang skirt. Similarly, jewellery designers say that in the few days right after a major awards show, the phone rings with inquiries - for either the exact item or something similar. Given the current economic climate, some acknowledge there may not be a massive surge of interest after events. 'As always, not everyone can afford the gowns or jewellery worn by the celebrities on the red carpet,' says Michael O'Connor, jewellery and style expert who is co-ordinating with celebrities and their stylists for the Oscars. 'However, what usually happens is that one sees a celebrity they like and they emulate that celebrity's style in a way that works for them.' O'Connor says what is seen on the red carpet will still have 'a major impact on what people will purchase in the coming months', but the general public will 'taper those looks to meet their lifestyle and economic conditions'. He anticipates plenty of bling on big nights, especially platinum and diamonds (watch out for smaller bracelets stacked together, as well as long platinum chain necklaces with various gemstones). After all, says O'Connor, it's all about pleasing the public. 'People go to the movies, and watch awards shows to see the spectacular and experience the wonderment of Hollywood,' he says. 'If celebrities don't dress up and create a dramatic showy affair, they are not doing what their public wants them to do.' Stein agrees and says we will still see 'trickle-down work its magic - from couture to strip malls, private clients to private labels. If there is no more trickle, not even a drop of inspiration and aspiration, we pretty much can just pack up and call it a day.'