Harriet Walker: 'I know exactly how the Oscars starlets will feel'

Share
Related Topics

Ahead of tonight's Oscars ceremony, I would like to regale you with some tales of my own many red-carpet appearances. You see, I know exactly how those starlets will be feeling this evening, quaking in their Louboutins and holding in their stomachs.

My first appearance on the crimson snake was at an awards ceremony held by the women's magazine for which I used to work; I pulled up in a taxi that lurched to a sudden halt and sent me headfirst into the driver's partition. The throbbing agony left me dazed for a few seconds longer than it took all the attendant paparazzi to flash away incessantly, realise I was nobody of any import and disperse like teenagers outside a supermarket when the police arrive. "Hee, hee, hee, they've got your number," laughed the cabbie, as I winced, rubbed my head and paid up. "So what actual famous people are coming?"

The second time involved me walking through a curtain which cruelly disguised the several steps that lay behind it. I was like the kid on You've Been Framed who staggers off a stage dressed as one of the Three Wise Men. "A spectacular entrance at the back," sneered the compère, as I battled against the curtain and the tightness of my skirt to stand up again.

And I probably shouldn't admit this, as it makes me a sad person, but I got terribly excited last year about walking the scarlet mile for a cinema premiere. (Coincidentally it was Alice in Wonderland, which is a near-perfect allegory for my subsequent feelings that evening of being the one enormous person who had eaten all the freaky biscuits while everyone else had guzzled the small juice.)

After hours spent in make-up and prepping an outfit, I was ready and teetering in a pair of shoes I usually only wear if I know I'm going to be standing still all night. "Do you want to borrow a lovely dress?" asked a friend who works in fashion PR and whose job it is to be custodian of some of the most beautiful gowns in the world – when they're not being squeezed on to an up-and-coming actress or made fierce in front of the cameras by a model whose entire girth is equal to one of my thighs, of course. Needless to say, none of these dresses would do up, although an intrepid colleague did manage to hoist herself into one and subsequently slept through the entire film, a product of being a bit too hot and rather short on oxygen.

But after staggering through the crowds in the drizzle, our moment on the red carpet was traumatically brief and something of a damp squib. We hadn't expected to be mobbed by signature-hunters and photographers, but the plan had been to elicit at least a smidgen of envy from the crowds. I hadn't even fallen over, after all. But the only thing worse than being a red-carpet klutz is the almost-as-powerfully shaming sense of realising that nobody else gives a frock.

I've been the other side of the upholstery, too, of course, which makes it only too clear how little the onlookers care. Those people who stand out in the rain to see their favourite stars deserve more credit than they get – they're a discerning group. Just because someone took the time to make a glittery banner for Daniel Radcliffe doesn't mean they want to see, say, Emma Watson. In fact, they're likely to be even more scathing than the sofa-bound pundits.

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a rainy Sunday afternoon hanging over a crash barrier at the Baftas in what was dubbed, farmyard-style, "the fashion pen". Rammed in between fashion editors and bloggers, I stood under a sneezeguard of a canopy, trying to maintain a sense of dignified hauteur at each even-more-elaborate creation that swished past me, while harassed PRs tried to "escort the talent to the fashion cluster".

"Who's that?" my neighbour, who works at a very different national newspaper, kept prodding me. "I don't recognise her. Where are the famous ones?" I pointed out that these were the famous people and her disappointment was tangible. "Well, I don't recognise any of them," she sniffed.

Tonight's glittering prizes have their work cut out; they're damned if they look good and damned if they don't. Flesh-coloured tights worn with open-toe shoes, elaborate tit-tape constructions that come unstuck, ruffles – just plain and simple RUFFLES. There are countless sartorial pits to fall into. And that's before you even start worrying about a ruck in the carpet. So good luck to the starlets this evening; I'll be at home on my sofa, shouting judgements, draped elegantly in my Slanket. It's red, you know.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition