Red Carpet Looks: Creativity or Clout?


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by The BRIT Awards (@brits)

When it comes to award season, artists, celebrities and influencers alike try to push the boundaries of fashion on the red carpet in the name of self expression, creativity and oftentimes, clout. Whilst most celebrities are professionally styled for these annual events, many have a heavy hand in the planning, searching and creative process involved in choosing an outfit, building relationships with designers and fashion PR agencies in the process.

When it comes to being ‘out there’, each season reporters the world over will chastise and criticise the rebels that wear more than just a pretty dress. Seemingly, the hot or not lists, similar to those perpetrated by the controversial The Fashion Police.

At this year’s BRIT Awards Sam Smith came under fire for multiple reasons, not least of all for their black latex outfit by designer HARRI. The all-in-one piece, featuring augmented leg structures which the designer and brand have become known for in the fashion world, were the point of ridicule on the red carpet, sometimes overshadowing Smith’s success at the awards show.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by SAM SMITH (@samsmith)

At each red carpet, social media explodes with memes and images criticising artists’ and celebrities’ looks as if these controversies have never happened before. Few of these moments, good or bad, are remembered by the next award show and even fewer are remembered the next year.

When it comes to shock factor, some artists and creatives leverage the media’s fear and fascination with eccentric fashion to promote their brand whilst they are establishing themselves in the industry. Lady Gaga has done this better than most.

Now, the multiple Grammy award winner can be seen in the most elegant of dresses on the red carpet, but we all remember her roots back in her meat-dress era. Not only did her 2010 VMA’s outfit choice, which was completely made out of meat, turn heads at the time, but it continues to make lists in every country on iconic dresses over the years.

Designed and created by Franc Fernandez, the meat dress is so iconic that it has its own permanent location in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the exhibit titled Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power. A fitting name for such a famous or infamous dress, depending how you look at it.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lady Gaga (@daily_lady_gaga)

A moment you might have forgotten is Björk’s Oscar swan dress at the 2001 Academy Awards. Designed to stun and confuse, the singer even ‘laid’ a fake egg on the red carpet, to the delight of eager photographers. Before the age of social media, the moment was broadcast on TV, talked about on the radio and splashed all over the American and European tabloids alike. The outfit was simply a fun creative way to get attention, and it certainly did that. Everyone wants to look their best in from of the cameras, so Björk decided to have a little fun with it.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by The Academy (@theacademy)

Back in 2001, you could do these media stunts and receive the desired affect with traditional media, however with the fast-paced information-centric world of 2023, these OMG moments are here and gone in a flash. Kim Kardashian is no stranger to a publicity stunt and made an attempt at her own pinnacle fashion moment at the 2022 MET Gala by wearing a former dress of bombshell Marilyn Monroe on the red carpet.

However, the attention was drawn away from the iconic dress that Monroe wore to President John F Kennedy’s 45th birthday party in 1962 and was focused on Kardashian’s actions surrounding the dress. What could have been a dramatic fashion homage became a media storm centred on two themes; Kim ruined the historic dress due to being a different dress size to Monroe and Kardashian emphasised the strict crash diet she used to rapidly loose wait in an attempt to fit into the dress.
In this case, this was not a fashion moment to be critiqued or entertained by, but rather a tool for social commentary of a public figure openly changing herself to fit a dress and conform to fashion.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Marilyn Monroe (@marilynmonroe)

Sam Smith may be criticised for their fashion choices, however the chances of anyone remembering what they wore by the time the next award season comes around is slim at best. It begs the question, if we simply garner some entertainment from these pieces, is that enough to make the outrageousness worth it? Or are artists simply poking fun at us and our fascination with material clothing rather than the talent, expression and work it takes them to climb the ranks in these award shows?

Either way, there will always be fashion and therefore there will always be people with opinions on it. As Joan Rivers once said “Does fashion matter? Always – though not quite as much after death”.