Suddenly Fall is upon us, that exhilarating time of opening nights and colorful galas.  We all look to the red carpet for inspiration in putting our own looks together, especially if we have an up-and-coming wedding or event planned.  Add paparazzi to the mix and we want everything to come together just right. To really understand life on the Red Carpet, we have to think of it as similar to the coming of Christmas. Every year a woman active on the social scene has to recreate herself in a stunning way for say, the Met Ball, along with a few other glitzy functions.  An actress, has the Academy Awards for which she has to show up and look beautiful. Then, of course, the bride has the ultimate benefit of an entire event all to herself and the groom with masses of loved ones orbiting around her. 


So what's the difference between the whole fashion equation offered up to us via the runway as opposed to red carpet?
Looking over the sometimes wackadoodle presentations of runway collections twice a year, models look 15 years old and, 40 lbs underweight, as if makeup artists and hair people have run amok on them.  Red Carpet on the other hand is about real women editing and adapting their persona into a designer's blueprint.  Only when a woman steps into a gown, fully accessorized by her own hand (or a very talented stylist's), does that design really become a creation.  Thus, the designer has become the middleman between concept and reality.

With so many actresses strutting down the carpet these days, not all you may have noticed, rate style icon status.  Ever observed most have the requisite elements of chic but the picture isn't complete? Is the whole symmetry thrown off somehow? So, the question many are asking is, do public personalities and even brides need stylists to put them together for those occasions where there's a nanosecond to make a first impression?
You be the judge on that one. Defined, a stylist is someone who puts you together from hairdressing to the Manolo Blaniks on your feet. Many actresses, political figures, and women on the social scene work with private stylists like Rachael Zoe, whose claim to fame is dressing stars like Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz.  A top stylist like Zoe can develop entire looks and wardrobes from sportswear to gala or simply work on premiere looks for clients who want to make that big splash at a toney event.  Whether they lead public or private lives, some women do have a way of putting themselves together without anyone’s help, thank you. Did Jacqueline Kennedy really need a stylist?
We know during her White House days she had a retinue of hairdressers and makeup people around her constantly as well as the ever-present Oleg Cassini whom she kept busy custom-designing her cutting-edge wardrobe of the day.  Ultimately, Jackie was her own best stylist.   I’m finding the women who know how to paint themselves into the whole picture and make grand entrances, have years of fashion experience, the faux pas as well as accomplishments.  Then there are those who just plain get it.  The same way Paul Klee looked at a canvas or Mozart the piano and just . . got it. . .

Anne Hathaway: Actress

This gown by Marchesa that actress and style icon, Anne Hathaway wore to the Oscars in 2008 was introduced to me via the designer of the floral swag on this gown.  Taking the actual gown fabric, each rose was crafted by hand.  Anne paired up this crepe creation with 10-carat diamond earrings worth more than 1m.
 And here Anne does it again in Versace at the 2008 Venice Film Festival. Off-the-charts chic at its finest, accessorized with a gold necklace, simple matching gold clutch and Christian Louboutin stiletto sandals. Notice in both how minimally she's accessorized and the principle of less is more?

Cate Blanchett: Actress
 2008 had to be the year dubbed Gorgeous Gown with the Hollywood crowd.  Here Cate Blanchett gets it right at the 61st Cannes Film Festival even after giving birth just one month before.  She wears this pale peach ruffled Armani Prive gown.  Check out her exquisite hairstyling . . .
Deepa Pakianathan: Style Setter on the Social Scene

 Recently at the opening of the San Francisco Opera, Deepa Pakianathan stunned us with this creation by Zuhair Murhad that had all the crucial elements of a grand ball gown while incorporating the time-honored and ancient art of silk screen.  Five layers of tulle underneath, the top layer of white silk skirt is bordered in tones of black and gray depicting a scene out of 18th century London. The final touch is an asymmetrically placed black bow and sash cinching the waist.  Again notice the accessories.  Clearly, less is more.
Drew Altizer Potography/Deepa's jewelry by Rosalina

Mingling with Joe Lacob and Nicole Curran at the SF Opera


more* HAIRSTYLING: While the simplicity of slicked-back hair and ballerina buns is tres chic in my book, wouldn't we all love a return to some real hairdressing like we had in the sixties?  Think Audrey Hepburn and her bouffant updos.  The intricate swirled chignons and buns of the 1940s were gorgeous too.

more* Going for more of a total look.  Albeit this is easier for some than others but it usually means clinching the look with something as simple as a particular piece of jewelry or great pair of sandals.

less*GLITZ and more couture.  Hollywood is getting better but still hasn't shucked the Jayne Mansfield kitch lingering from the 50s. Those who insist on gowns with a sheen or uber-bling might look to cinema designer, Edith Head for inspiration.  Also, Hollywood has more blondes than Sweden did back in 1055 A.D.  Personally, I'd love to see a return of the Hitchcock Blonde a la Grace Kelly and 'Tippi' Hedren who really knew how to wear couture while practicing the art of being stylishly blonde.   

Marion Cotillard in Jean Paul Gaultier.

For me, white is the most powerful and stunning statement a woman can make with a grand entrance.  The downside of this is, brides over the past few years seem to have commandeered white as their very own.  Shucking the traditional high-collar and long-sleeved straight jacket designs of yesteryear, we’ve seen women marching down the aisle in backs so low and fronts a plunging, even Rudi Gernreich is turning in his grave.   Add to that ditching the veil for little cocktail hats or gardenias in the hair, and this leaves women who want to sport an all-white look come gala night, open to more than a few, “Don't you look as pretty as a bride?"comments.  To all the actresses in Hollywood and women on the social scene who have sported an all-white look, I totally applaud you and encourage you from my little corner of this blogosphere to keep wearing the white satin/jersey/crepe proudly.    And believe me if white isn't your game, there’s room for every style and color on the red carpet.

Additional credits:

Obama photo  
Michelle in Naeem Khan

Jacqueline Kennedy
in Oleg Cassini