Once the red-carpet season gets underway, we become used to seeing the stars all dolled up, as if that's what they look like when they eat breakfast or pop out to the shops.
Couture gowns and trailing skirts are the norm at this time of year, but they've also become an essential part of designers' collections. There's a certain mindset that bemoans that the red carpet has come to bear so heavily on those who are trying to make their way in the industry. Award-ceremony exposure can make or break a label – celebrities choosing Zac Posen and Jason Wu made those designers household names. At the collections, it's easy to see the pieces destined for the Oscars – the long, spangled ones. But there are those who complain that creating dresses for celebs has become a distraction for young designers, who neglect the more mundane pieces that their less glitzy customer might want to wear.
In the old days, the gowns were made by the hallowed Hollywood costumiers – Edith Head or Adrian, for example. Marlene Dietrich was one of the first screen sirens to work with a fashion designer –Christian Dior – in 1951 . They worked out the angles and aspects that would feature most and devised the ultimate in statement dressing. Today, there's less choreography but no less planning. Stylists work for months to pick the best gowns for their clients. Then there's the jewellery, shoes and the perfect clutch.
But you can't avoid every pitfall. Take Barbra Streisand's sheer Arnold Scaasi tunic and trousers, which became almost transparent under stage lights. And Jennifer Lawrence's mishap last week, when a chair on her hem ripped apart her Dior couture. That's the problem with clothes and the red carpet: no matter how glamorous and magical they might be, real life can always intervene.