When actresses step onto the
The answers may be surprising. Every year brings a crop of relatively unknown designers yearning for the big breakthrough a red carpet triumph can bring with it.
They've seen it happen before. When
Out of seemingly nowhere, a designer most of the world had never heard of became a household word, recalled veteran Hollywood publicist Marilyn Heston, president of MHA Media, who handled
For Saab it brought full-fledged membership in the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the sanctioning body that regulates the Paris shows, alongside houses like
Saab's story is the big dream peddled by Hollywood's fashion publicists, who search out little-known designers yearning for a breakthrough from around the Middle East, all over Europe and beyond, bringing back their wares to Los Angeles showrooms where the mostly one-of-a-kind sample gowns are within easy reach of local celebrity stylists, agents and managers looking to create a little red-carpet magic for their clients.
These are not the designers usually covered in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar but rather by People Style Watch, on TV rundowns like "Fashion Police" and in celebrity style blogs.
Few of their wares are carried in American stores, unlike the more familiar designer names — the global powerhouses like
But the worldwide reach of the red carpet is a great equalizer and every year brings some of these lesser-known designers trying to break through in Saab's footsteps, as seen most recently at the Hollywood awards season's acknowledged kickoff, the Golden Globe Awards in early January.
If anyone is close to household-name status, it's this Beirut-born designer.
At the Golden Globes, his re-embroidered white lace over nude illusion gown for
He designed the infamous sparkly teal Emmy's showstopper for
He showed his couture on Wednesday in Paris as a guest of the Chambre Syndicale but his ready-to-wear collection is seen infrequently in U.S. stores, and a New York boutique he announced in 2011 has yet to materialize. Still, Murad is the latest in a line of Saab disciples who isn't afraid to lash on the glitter. It might make some fashion insiders cringe but it seems to suit the publicity-seeking needs of Hollywood stars.
As a designer, Brit Jenny Packham has a split personality.
On the one hand, she turns out restrained gowns with boudoir touches like the ivory Golden Globes choice worn by presenter
On the other hand, Packham has "never met a sequin, bead, or crystal she didn't like," said Style.com, reviewing her spring 2013 Vegas-themed collection. Hence the long-sleeved silver sequined column worn by
Though Packham's vacillating on the runway may make it difficult to find her niche with American retailers, she's found favor recently with younger celebs. Take the sequined black stunner with gold-embellished plunging neckline worn by
"He's a new name for me," Sofia Vergara told
And he was a new name for most viewers at home, unless they caught the
Vergara's stylists, known professionally as Rob and Mariel, had the dress amid the "racks and racks" they put together for the actress to consider. "It was one of the first things she pulled out," said the duo's Rob Zangardi.
Esteban must have a good database — about the same time,
"We don't like to get too stuck on names," Zangardi said. "If it's a good dress, it's a good dress."
Rami Al Ali
Also headquartered in Dubai, native Syrian Rami Al Ali was signed to PR powerhouse Film Fashion (which also represents Murad and Packham) just days before the Globes.
But there was
"I saw that it was so beautifully made," said Gugino's stylist, Jessica Paster. "And when I saw it on Carla's body, it was so, so stunning." All in all, a promising Hollywood debut for the designer, who founded his Dubai couture house only in 2011, after schooling at the College of Fine Arts in Damascus and then apprenticing with other couturiers in the region. And he showed in Paris, for the first time, during the just-ended couture shows as well.
This awards season you can't ask for a better "get" than one of the
It was quite a departure from the usual beaded couture confections he shows in Rome, such as the fanciful full-skirted style worn by
Maybe Mamet's gown harkened back to Ward's training with the late Italian maestro of geometry
But Mamet was anything but grim. The Go Fug Yourself blog's Heather raved, "I like that her gown is shot through with leather. And that she's smiling. It seriously makes a difference."
Maria Lucia Hohan
"Maria Lucia Hohan is the best designer you never really heard of," according to Red Carpet Fashion Awards, listing
However, opinions were divided when
But Elle Leigh's Fashion Boudoir blog probably spoke for a lot of younger fans: "I love it. I want it. It rocks."
"The Newsroom's" young star
It was a bit of a comeback for the designer, who also dressed
Born and reared in Argentina of Italian heritage, Cadile studied in Miami, bounced around various European design gigs and eventually founded a New York-based business in 2007. He subsequently was nominated as a Fashion Group Rising Star and attracted early red carpet devotees like
Vanity Fair UK recently heralded Greece's Celia Kritharioti as one of six couturiers to watch worldwide, and her new representation in Los Angeles yielded both "Extra" co-host
Both were "looking gorgeous" said Just Jared, though Rancic had her detractors, including Fug's Heather: "I think hers is the least popular saloon in all of Deadwood."