The red carpet has always determined the popularity of an event. It has people waiting on the edge of their seat for their favourite celebrities to parade the carpet in iconic looks, dressed by popular designers.
Although the audience plays an integral role in how much attention these events receive, do we really have that much control over the fashion industry? Or are we just passively consuming the content?
The rise of social media
The main change in how audiences can view red carpet events comes down to the rise of social media networks. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube give us access to live streams and red carpet images. These face the scrutiny of thousands of people who either love or hate the looks.
Using social media as a way to connect viewers permits us to feel closer to the event. With TV views for award shows declining, they need that online platform. YPulse commented on this removal from traditional media to social media and stated that:
“Now that we have instant access to our favourite celebrities through social media, and they’re actively posting before, during, and after the shows – contributing to the already huge online media chatter that runs parallel to the live event”.
Showing how we as consumers have the means to access and comment on fashion looks in live time. Having shared experiences with others through an app on our phones.
Controlling fashion trends
Fashion is a big part of social media, especially among Millennials and Gen Z. Image sharing apps like Instagram and Pinterest gain the most popularity. Brands need to maintain younger audiences attention to set the tone for the fashion season.
The viewers steer the world of fashion via their blogging and best/worst dressed social media posts. New styles which gain popularity online are viewed as ‘trends of 2021’. Designers then listen to them and alter ideas to make it appeal to the masses. What the younger audience view as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ can determine what current fashion trends are then going to be popular or unpopular.
The audience from a distance
Although we feel more connected via social media, we are still kept at a distance from the staged event. We have the freedom to comment and critique looks, but it is still celebrities who actually attend. A rise in social media fame has allowed influencers to attend more in recent years, but this is still based off a hierarchy system.
Influencers will not be dressed in the same high fashion brands as celebrity royals like Rihanna and Beyoncé. Influencers come with a role to play. Blogging and vlogging exclusive and behind the scenes footage. The audience gave these influencers their fame and popularity. Except they do not achieve the same fame and popularity as veteran celebrities.
“The actual purpose of the red carpet: it’s a money-making marketing event that benefits the fashion industry and the celebrities that profit from the whole spectacle.” Connie Wang
Look but don’t touch
Although these high fashion looks aren’t inclusive to the average viewer, we don’t expect them to be. They have a look but don’t touch policy for the audience. People are able to marvel at the fashion looks and designers, whilst dissecting every inch of what individuals are wearing.
The costs of these gowns and accessories are extortionate. Leaving it only for the rich who can afford these pieces. However it seems to pose as inspiration for people instead, with the rise in popularity of new apps such as Looklive.
An app that makes it possible for the everyday person to purchase outfits worn by celebrities at events, or links replicas at a significantly reduced price. This allows us as the audience to control and create fashion trends inspired by the red carpet. We can pick and choose what we like, making it our own by drawing inspiration from the high fashion displays.
What to expect from future red carpet events
In the current climate of the COVID pandemic, a lot of events have either had to be cancelled or altered to maintain social distancing regulations. This introduced the concept of virtual red carpets. Celebrities would still dress in red carpet gowns, but would either be shot in an event with a handful of other stars, or instead from their home via Zoom calls.
This changes the way in which we consume media as all the attention is drawn online. Without the internet or social media we would not have access to these. It provides a space to reach a wide global audience.
Even though events are desperate to get back to the red carpet, maybe in the future they will host more online events to connect consumers.