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Minimalism or Flash? Which is Better on the Red Carpet

Red carpets are conventionally times for big bold dress statements and maximalist sentiments (see anything Lady Gaga). But the hidden hero in an amongst all this loud fashion, is minimalism. These low-key statements on the red carpet are just as impactful, but no where near as loud or complicated, but how do they hold up against bold statement pieces.

What is minimalism in fashion?

The concept behind minimalism in fashion is based around stripping everything right back. Solely relying on the basics. In doing so you can create simple outfits with just as much impact, but less flash.

It’s been found in almost all sub-sects of fashion, from streetwear, to the aptly named ‘normcore‘. Minimalism has become a staple in the modern fashion circles.

How does this translate to the red carpet?

In an amongst the luscious ball gowns and incredible statement pieces, many celebrities have taken a more low-key approach for their on-carpet style. It’s often they stand out in the crowd for all the right reasons. This understated approach allows the wearer to carry themselves on the carpet in a completely different fashion. It defends the idea it’s not what you wear, but how you wear it.

Frank Ocean and his Prada jacket

2019’s Met Gala was filled with luxurious bold statement pieces. With Jared Leto carrying his own head, and Katy Perry wearing a chandelier on top of hers. But juxtaposed to this was an iconic level of minimalism. Insert: Frank Ocean.

A man known for being famously secretive and low-key, his Met Gala appearance that year was no different. The RnB singer came through with cropped black trousers, chunky leather boots topped off with a now iconic Prada anorak worn over a white shirt, finished off with a black tie. The whole ensemble is discreet and quiet, but stood out in a sea of the gala’s usually noisy outfits. Frank’s minimalist choices here prove that flash at the Met Gala red (or pink) carpet isn’t everything.

Kanye West and minimalism

Minimal is not usually a word used when discussing Kanye’s infamous behaviour. At the same 2019 Met Gala, legendary producer, rapper and clothes designer Kanye West also approached a similar low-key look to Ocean. Although his Yeezy fashion line is very minimalist, West has not shied away from being bold on the red carpet before. His 2016 fit was a busy and bold double denim look, but this gala he wore a $50 Dickies workwear jacket, black Dickies trousers and his own brand Yeezy combat boots.

This stood as a bold comparison to his partner Kim Kardashians, water themed ‘dripping’ dress thus stopping her thunder being ‘stolen’. However, West’s decision to wear such an understated ensemble made him stand out, proving you don’t need busy to stand out.

Cate Blanchett the monochromatic queen

Actor and Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett is no stranger to the red carpet. She has worn many different dresses over her long career, but the subtle monochrome piece she wore the Blue Jasmine premiere is a standout.

Designed by Alexander McQueen, a name Blanchett is no stranger to, this black and white piece, is stylish and regal, allowing her to carry herself elegantly. It’s not bombarded by jeweled elements or bizarre and unnecessary accessories (such as Björk’s 2001 Swan).

The whole piece is nicely complimented with a simple yet effective hairstyle letting her hair sit nicely behind her ears. Dresses like this allow the wearer to look incredible whilst still being bold, the contrast of the black and white coinciding with Blanchett’s grace, are powerful enough not to need to go big.

How does this compare to the flash?

There is nothing wrong with the big bold statements. Red carpets are the only time that you can get away with wearing a dress with Roman style embroidery flashed all over it (thanks Nicki). When done right the bold look can work incredibly well.

Take Zendaya’s butterfly inspired Moschino dress worn for The Greatest Showman’s Australian premiere. The dress is complicated, vibrant and visually stunning, it manages to find a good level of exciting without becoming garish. Obviously this is a standout piece and easily captures your attention. Next to co-stars, Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman, she really did stand out.

However the sleek simple nature of their suits was still effective, and allowed them to catch eyes as well.

A fashion symbiosis

Realistically, you can’t define which is the better option, as one cannot live without the other. If not for mellow takes on the carpet, the larger than life ideas and concepts would not be half as exciting or interesting, and these then make the minimal ensembles stand out just as much. This isn’t saying minimalism doesn’t have a place of it’s own.

Simple but stunning outfits, will always have a place on the red carpet, as will their counterparts.


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