Every year, the Oscars take Hollywood by storm. Those who work in the industry know the schedule of events like clockwork and are “camera ready” immediately following the new year when award season goes into full swing. This year was no different. The never-ending list of red carpet events and award shows every working actor and their entourage (i.e. their stylist, hair and makeup artists, agent, manager and publicist) attend includes over fifteen official awards shows between January first and the end of February. This is all in addition to a plethora of luncheons, events, and pre- and post-parties that are held during this two-month period.
Whether you are an actor, celebrity stylist, or a behind-the-scenes insider such as myself, you welcome each new year in stride — as if you are training for a marathon. The Golden Globes are the first check point, held on January 8th, and the Oscars are the finish line, held Sunday, February 26th.
The week leading up to the big day is the most insane, not only because of the tension in the air over who will bring home the golden statue, but also because Oscar weekend is jam-packed with events, parties and award shows. The stakes are incredibly high for everyone who is involved in helping to create a red carpet look for their celebrity client – not only for the Academy Awards but the annual Vanity Fair after party as well. Both of these events have become a spotlight for designers around the world to showcase their work on the red carpet with hopes of either being discovered by Hollywood for future celebrity dressing opportunities or to further promote their brand on a global scale.
Janelle Monae was one of the most talked about newcomers on the red carpet at the Oscars this year for her elaborate Elie Saab Haute Couture gown and for the edgy Alexander Vauthier Couture gown she wore to the Vanity Fair event. Brie Larson, who made her official debut last year, is now a red carpet darling — wowing the fashion critics with her flawless Oscar de la Renta custom gown for the Academy Awards and the timeless Ralph & Russo gown she wore to Vanity Fair.
Celebrity stylists, hair and makeup artists, designers and management teams work long hours around the clock throughout these two months, ensuring every small detail is taken care of for their celebrity client on the big night. Final fittings are typically held the Saturday before the Oscars and sometimes even the morning of, which often includes last minute decisions on which fine jewelry designer to wear. Occasionally an actress and her stylist team decide to swap a couture gown they were planning to wear to the Oscars for the Vanity Fair party instead. Janelle Monae and her stylist, Maeve Reilly, picked Janelle’s jewelry for Vanity Fair the night of the event!
Over the last ten years or so, it has become industry standard for actresses to have a complete outfit change for the Vanity Fair party after they attend the Academy Awards. This has a snowball effect on the stylist and glam team as they have to meet their celebrity client after the Oscars to style them for Vanity Fair and any other after parties they are attending that night. Elton John always has a party, and countless other celebrities, high-profile industry influencers, and luxury brands host parties that evening as well. They are smart to capitalize on the amount of A-list celebrities who are out and about in Los Angeles that night.
The Monday following the Oscars is the calm after the storm. Traffic is generally quieter in the morning as the majority of Hollywood was either out celebrating or working late hours the night before. For those lucky designers who were fortunate enough to secure a red carpet dressing placement at the Oscars or Vanity Fair, the publicity teams stay up late emailing press releases and posting on social media to ensure all of their hard work is noticed. If a stylist’s client had an outfit change late Sunday evening or if they needed to pick up the fine jewelry their client was wearing and return it to the rightful owner the next morning, stylists can end up getting little to no sleep. For the rest of us, it a day of rest and reflection, knowing that whatever challenges we faced or victories won, next year we will hopefully be a little better prepared for the checkpoints along the way.