From left: Cate Blanchett at the 2011 Oscars, Florence Welch at the 2011… (From left: Jay L. Clendenin…)
Remember when stars dressed themselves for the red carpet, and when personal style and glamorous gaffes (Cher, Barbra Streisand) were part of the award show viewing experience?
The red carpet lost some of its luster when celebrity dressing turned into big business. Now that gowns must be stylist- and publicist-approved and are sometimes line items in lucrative endorsement deals, much of award show fashion has succumbed to a predictable sameness.
Enter Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci. For the last two years, he has been making the most surprising red carpet gowns out there, for ladies who dare to wear them.
Take Cate Blanchett's 2011 Oscar gown, in lilac chiffon with pearl embroidery framing the bodice, and a spray of yellow beading on the shoulders and back for an unexpected contrast. Or the crystal-encrusted, cascading ruffle confection that Zoe Saldana wore to the 2010 Oscars. Love them or hate them, at least you noticed them.
The same goes for the swan-like Givenchy dress worn by songbird Florence Welch to the 2011 Grammys. And the zip-front Givenchy white lace mermaid gown Penélope Cruz chose for a London premiere. Both looks were modern expressions of femininity that were just a little rough around the edges.
It's not the first time the French couture house has made a splash in Hollywood. Hubert de Givenchy, who founded his label in 1952, designed most of the wardrobe, on-screen and off, for Audrey Hepburn, most notably the famous LBD (little black dress) she wore in the 1962 film "Breakfast at Tiffanys." He retired in 1995, and Tisci took over 10 years later, after a string of designers had cycled through. It's hard to imagine the ever-elegant Monsieur Givenchy approving of Tisci's edgy designs for the red carpet. But they keep us talking. And that's a good thing.