It didn’t help that the red carpet was actually gray. And that, like most of the UK, it was raining in Beverly Hills. And that the biggest stars—Zendaya, Timothée Chalamet, Rihanna—we’ve come to rely on to kick off awards season with their reliable frou frou glamour, haven’t really delivered.
And it really didn’t help that black looked the best, though Triangle of Sorrows star Dolly de Leon (wearing a stunning dress in buttery soft black leather by designer Norman René Devere), Hacks’ Megan Stalter, ( giving Angelina Jolie’s shiny leg a Versace with two partings) and Natasha Lyonne (in tacky Givenchy, patent leather platforms and a copper bob) looked anything but boring.
But this year, as is often the case these days, it was up to the men to shake things up.
Call it the Chalamet effect, but the penguin suits are gone, and even the ties are gone. Influencer Josh Richards may be best known among Gen Z, but from now on he’ll also be known as the guy who, like the actor, swapped his shirt for a see-through mesh top.
Historically, what men wear on the red carpet has always been relegated to background chatter, certainly among the crowd of princess dresses and big hair. Then in 2019, Chalamet wore Louis Vuitton shoes to the Golden Globes and Billy Porter wore a Christian Siriano ball gown to the Oscars, and the landscape of menswear changed forever, reflecting the ever-shrinking distinction between it and womenswear. At least on the red carpet.
However, the proverbial red carpet was won by Donald Glover. Wearing a black peaked-shoulder jacket over a pair of Saint Laurent cream silk pajamas that gathered over his shoes, the effect was elevated pandemic wear, practical – the pajamas had pockets, which at least gives you a nice way to pose – but comfortably , old meets new.
See also Andrew Garfield, in a burnt orange linen suit, pretending it’s not January; Tyler James Williams in a washed-out Matador style cut-off suit by streetwear brand Amiri; Seth Rogen in a peach Dior tuxedo, complete with straps; Hacks’ Mark Indelicato in a 1930s-style butter brocade suit and The Banshees of Inisherin’s Barry Keoghan in a pastel blue Louis Vuitton suit, with a gift wrapped around his neck in a small handkerchief. Porter even wore another Siriano ball gown, this time in Pantone’s 2023 color of the year, Viva Magenta.
Social media has also always played a hand, with the most successful looks becoming memes. The Instagram moment of 2023 came in the form of opera gloves. Worn by Nicole Byer in Siriano, Lyonne in Givenchy and Ayo Edebiri (were her Rosie Assoulin tan gloves great in her former role as a dishwasher in The Bear?) they were old-school opulence – it’s impossible to see a pair and not think of them. Audrey Hepburn who, like Lyonne, wore a Givenchy outfit – modernized with scattered diamond rings on top.
In some cases, they made a confusing accessory (some were even attached to the dresses themselves), although considering the number of viruses in circulation, no one wore masks, probably reasonable ones.
Perhaps tellingly, the most interesting look of the evening was not actually a suit or a dress, but a combination of the two – complete with a single blue tear painted on her left cheek – as worn by House of Dragon’s Emma D’Arcy. Blink and you’ll miss the skirt worn underneath. “I wanted to look like a ‘child prodigy at a grand piano recital,’ except we added one tear to the makeup, so I guess the recital went really badly,” the actress said of her Acne Studios “suit” before the ceremony. “I’m wearing a skirt and pants, because nothing says ‘non-binary’ like wearing pants and a skirt at the same time.”
Traditionally, what people wore on the red carpet was never what they actually wanted to wear. The stars’ dress choices are largely made in collusion with the marketing power of the big brands who have paid for the privilege, and some stylists have become as famous as the people they dress. When MeToo happened—and when we realized that the red carpet is as much about objectification as who’s dating who—we expected a reset. But Hollywood’s fashion industrial complex will probably never shake off its dark past. Nor will people stop wearing Dolce & Gabbana despite its history of racism and homophobia. An economy unto itself, thousands of dollars pass through these events. And probably forever more.