I am surely not alone among fashion editors to have found Sunday somewhat less frenetic than it might otherwise have been, given the absence of any ceremony surrounding the annual Oscars precursor that is the Golden Globes. Because, if the film industry has been bemoaning such an unprecedented occurrence and assessing its impact, the big names in fashion have also lost out on one of the most high-profile red-carpet opportunities of the calendar.

In particular, designers such as Vera Wang and Carolina Herrera – champions of what might, perhaps uncharitably, be described as "occasionwear" – will be none too pleased. There are, however, at least some designers out there who may secretly be just a little relieved.

The fashion deity Helmut Lang, for example, once told me that he had introduced full-length dresses into his collection only under considerable pressure from the business brains behind his operation. Long dresses, as far as Lang was concerned, were simply not modern. And that is certainly true where the type of strapless, corseted fishtail gown beloved by most big-name actresses is concerned. There's nothing innovative about recreating garments that wouldn't have looked out of place during Hollywood's Golden Era, after all.

Nicolas Ghesquière, who dressed Nicole Kidman in tomato-red for the Oscars last year, and has also created the red-carpet wardrobe of Jennifer Connolly for some time now, is one designer who has consistently challenged the received idea of big-entrance dressing on his catwalks. Hand-crafted metal leggings the season before last and shantung-silk tailoring this time round were both introduced as a more contemporary alternative that few actresses today would be brave enough to touch.

In a similar vein, Yves Saint Laurent's Stefano Pilati offered Julianne Moore the opportunity of wearing his beautiful autumn/winter tuxedo-jacket dress to the Costume Institute Ball at the Metropolitan Museum in New York last year, and may even have been able to coax her into some of the grey-marl tailoring he has come up with for spring/summer 2008, but such instances are rare.

True, hemlines on the red carpet have risen in line with the short skirts that have ruled the runways, but this is not a place where taking any risks sartorially is an option. Any nominee worth her credentials – not to mention the film company behind her – has too much to lose. Instead, the idea is simply to flatter in the most conservative way. And while that might mean more than a few "hit" and "miss" type features in the papers the following day, it is hardly going to alter the future of fashion.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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