Red carpet is the new catwalk for designers looking for star power

Ahead of the Oscars, fashion brands flock to share the Hollywood spotlight

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 February, 2016, 10:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 February, 2016, 10:00pm

Celebrities might be flocking to the front rows of this week’s London Fashion Week shows, but some designers are swapping the runway for Hollywood’s red carpets as the fashion world seeks new ways to draw attention.

Ahead of Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, the most-watched entertainment event around the world, Hollywood has been the setting for numerous fashion events.

British designer Stella McCartney threw a party showcasing her latest collection at music shop Amoeba, Saint Laurent Paris took over The Palladium music venue for its menswear show, Gucci announced that Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine was its celebrity ambassador and Kenzo debuted a short film, Snowbird.

“It just feels like a moment when music, film, fashion, the arts, it’s all just come together for LA,” says Stella McCartney whose presentation was attended by celebrities including Katy Perry and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Celebrities and fashion have long had a symbiotic relationship, from Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy to Jennifer Lawrence and Christian Dior.

But Los Angeles is not traditionally regarded as a trend-setting city as the year-round sunny weather doesn’t allow seasonal clothing changes as it does in New York, Milan, Paris and London.

That notion is slowly changing. In 2012, Saint Laurent Parismoved its design studios to Los Angeles. Last year, Tom Ford and Burberry presented star-studded runway shows and Louis Vuitton held an exhibition in Hollywood.

The spotlight on Los Angeles comes at a time when brands are rejigging the runway-to-retail model and making fashion available sooner.

“Runway shows don’t have the same impact as they once did, mainly because there’s so much of them and it’s overcrowded,” says Eric Wilson, fashion news director of InStyle magazine.

The red carpet, however, is watched by the entire world.

“One red carpet hit at the Oscars is equivalent to a year’s worth of marketing for a designer,” says Wilson.

Last year Tom Ford moved his London Fashion Week presentation to Los Angeles ahead of the Oscars and dressed Reese Witherspoon who was nominated for an award.

“The world is even more obsessed with celebrities than ever,” Wilson says. “You’ll see more big name designers who are based elsewhere coming to Los Angeles to do events, for the proximity to celebrities.”

This year, McCartney has scored numerous hits on Hollywood’sred carpets; actress Lawrence donned a black pantsuit at the Oscar nominees luncheon, singer Ellie Goulding wore a blush pink gown to the Grammys and Taraji P. Henson wore a white strapless dress when she won a Golden Globe for Empire.

At the Grammys, Justin Bieber and Beck wore Saint Laurent Paris while British singer Welch wore a Gucci blush pink dress.

“The weather, the rock and rollness of LA, it’s an allure especially for European designers,” says Kenzo creative director Humberto Leon.