'Must do'' for the Hollywood red carpet: Dress like Jennifer Connelly.
``Must not do'' for the Hollywood red carpet: Dress like Jennifer Connelly.
What gives? Well, if you recall, in 2002 Connelly was the golden girl of the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards, snagging best-supporting-actress honors at both. But she divided fashion voters with her outfits for the two most influential awards shows. For the Golden Globes, she triumphed in a sleek, black, long-sleeved gown by Narciso Rodriguez. Then, with all eyes on her at the Oscars, she stumbled dramatically in a frightful number from Balenciaga -- so shredded and pale that it made her look like an anemic street urchin.
Such are the joys -- and horrors -- of the red carpet.
We begin a new year of sartorial highs and inevitable lows, when the Golden Globes marks the official start of fashion hunting season. The industry's keenest eyes will be looking through the crosshairs at red-carpet gowns from the Globes through fashion's biggest night, the Oscars.
In case you haven't heard, it's all about the dress and how it's presented on ``the walk.''
``The red carpet is now the most influential fashion show in the world,'' said David Wolfe, fashion trend-watcher for Doneger Group retail consultants. ``Forget the runways of Paris or New York. Now the entire fashion industry is focused on what celebrities are wearing.''
Hey, isn't it about the acting and not about what they're wearing? Grow up, says Leon Hall, E! Entertainment's fashion expert. ``Anyone who says that the dress, the presentation isn't important is a liar. It's part of the campaign.
``The Golden Globes makes people sit up and take notice. It's like running for cheerleader. Think about Halle Berry at last year's Golden Globes. That dress might not have given her the edge on the Oscar, but it gave her the inside track. You couldn't forget how spectacular she looked.''
Ah, Halle Berry. If there's one actress who has had a monster of a ball on the red carpet in recent years, it is Berry, last year's best-actress Oscar winner. Berry dominated 2002 at the Golden Globes (in chocolate Valentino) and at the Oscars (in Elie Saab's nude embroidered gown with claret-colored ball skirt). Unlike other fashion plates who occasionally stumble -- Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez and even Nicole Kidman -- Berry has had an almost unerring string of red-carpet hits.
How? Because she didn't use the red carpet as a laboratory. It's not a place for experimentation, Hall said.
``This is not the place to try out a look but a place to create an image for yourself,'' said Hall, who will be joining Joan and Melissa Rivers to handicap Golden Globe fashion on E! Entertainment's ``Fashion Police,'' a live show Monday at 10 p.m. ``I think the smartest have learned by now that if you want to be taken seriously as an actress, you'll take this stuff seriously.''
This stuff isn't just the dress. It's the hair, the shoes, the handbag, the makeup and the jewelry. It's the whole enchilada. Woe to those who don't pay attention to the entire ensemble or, as Hall warns, use the red carpet to experiment.
Case in point: poor Kate Hudson. She was so pretty in Versace at the Golden Globes, so tragically wrong in Stella McCartney for Chloe at the Oscars. Was Hudson listening to Connelly, or vice versa?
This year's red-carpet moments should be even more exciting because of the wealth of great roles for women: Salma Hayek in ``Frida,'' Julianne Moore in ``The Hours'' and ``Far From Heaven,'' Meryl Streep in ``Adaptation'' and ``The Hour,'' Diane Lane in ``Unfaithful,'' Jennifer Aniston in ``The Good Girl'' and Nicole Kidman in ``The Hours.'' All of these women are known for their style savvy, and all are sure to turn heads on the red carpet.
But the two actresses who might create the biggest stir are the gun-slinging stars of ``Chicago,'' Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger. The voluptuous Zeta-Jones, who favors the curvaceous beaded gowns of Versace, has always made a good red-carpet turn. But it's Zellweger, who wowed at the Oscars last year in Vera Wang and in vintage Jean Desses the year before that, who is sure to take the most eagerly awaited walk this year.
One way in which Golden Globe night is different from Oscar night is that it's usually more festive fashionwise. ``The interesting angle on the Globes is the environment and the mix: It's a dinner with cocktails. So, more fun, more festive,'' said Tom Julian, fashion forecaster for Fallon Worldwide and past fashion guru of Oscar.com's red-carpet show. ``This allows for more risque or directional looks. The mix is TV meeting film, old meeting new. The Globes can set the stage for the next new face: Think `Alias' or `Felicity' influences.''
The Globe fashion parade can also set trends.
``What does this mean to the average person? A lot, surprisingly,'' said Wolfe. ``Not that the average woman needs a so-called red-carpet gown, but industry insiders look for trends in terms of colors, fabrics and details that can be then translated onto more accessible styles for the average woman.''
Just so long as the average woman doesn't have to look like Connelly on Oscar night.