How many times as a society have we seen celebrities walking up a grand red pathway. Usually, surrounded by screaming fans and flashing lights? Arriving at an event wearing a glowing gown ready to be celebrated sounds quite amazing if you’re not absolutely terrified of the spotlight. But how did this spotlight come to be?
The monumental opportunity to showcase an outfit hasn’t just appeared over the last century. Hollywood might seem to be the creator of dreams and showbiz but the idea of a glorious red carpet came from ancient Greece. Believe it or not, fashion and the Greek era have a lot more in common than you think.
The rich or the high-ups of the state wore glamorous outfits full of colour that represented their wealth. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
Who walked the first red carpet?
The clothes worn by the rich in ancient Greece were only small tunics made of coloured cloth. The tunics had great detail that was specifically for covering parts and/or showing off. Ancient Greeks had no need to wear large garments. The weather was actually pretty hot. They mostly walked around with sandals or barefoot too.
Initially, the red carpet stemmed from Agamemnon’s wife trying to kill him in the Greek tragedy play “the Oresteia” in 458 BC. This tells the story of Clytemnestra. A wife that laid out a red carpet to welcome home her unfaithful husband, Agamemnon. The king hesitates to walk on the “crimson path” laid before him. Knowing that he will be killed if he walks on it, since he’s human, he walks it anyway.
The red carpet in this story is only to be walked on by gods. Red was triumphantly displayed to honour the gods as it represents war and glory. Shortly after Aeschylus’ work was released, many painters began using red carpets in their work to illustrate people from royalty or wealth.
How did it develop?
Ever since the initial symbol of divinity, it’s created a domino effect which has trickled down into modern-day society. Presidents such as George Monroe started being welcomed in a town by walking the red carpet. Even high-status parties started having a red carpet to welcome elite guests. Now, the red carpet has morphed into a concept that can be adopted by many.
Businesses as such have taken this to make their consumers feel like they are the first priority. A new rail service began running between New York and Chicago in 1902. A red carpet was used to guide passengers to their carriage. From then on, a red carpet was seen as a luxurious item and was used at many prestigious events.
The modern-day red carpet is known for Hollywood glamour. The glitz and glam of the contemporary Oscars’ experience and the main, almost ritualistic, introductory stage of today’s awards ceremonies, gala events and premieres around the world. The iconic red carpet sets the movie stars, singers, and other celebs who step on it apart from us mere mortals.
Who walked the walk?
The legendary Barbra Streisand made a statement at the 41st Academy Awards in 1969 when she arrived in a sheer black Scaasi pantsuit and accepted the Best Actress award for her work in Funny Girl.
Cher was told that the reason she wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for her role in Mask was because she couldn’t be taken seriously when she didn’t dress “seriously.” Cher’s response to this criticism was showing up to the 58th Academy Awards in 1985 in a Bob Mackie showgirl creation.
In 1999, Celine Dion wore a backwards tuxedo made by high-end designer Christian Dior for the 71st Academy Awards. The concept of wearing something outrageous and artistic when you’re in a position to wear whatever you want is a beautiful thing – most of the time.
Lady Gaga at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, wore a dress made of raw beef, which was commonly referred to by the media as the meat dress. Most vegetarian and vegan communities weren’t happy with this public display of slaughter, and the dress in itself is of a particular taste.
We all get to walk our own red carpet
Although the red carpet is usually socially restricted to celebs or those of high-status, the carpet didn’t start on Hollywood. Over the years this ideology has been adopted and used to everybody’s personal gains and usage.
So why can’t you walk down the red carpet and be the star of your own show?