The perfect red carpet look is part familiar, part fantastic

The perfect red carpet look is part familiar, part fantastic
Rihanna's enormous pouf of pink by Giambattista Valli makes for a fairy-tale entrance at the Grammys in February. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

After weeks of awards shows, beginning with the Golden Globes and concluding with the Oscars, and every celeb-pulling event in between, we're not any closer to knowing what makes the perfect fashion statement on the red carpet.

Much of it is subjective, of course, which means that each appearance is a game of roulette for the actors, stylists and designers involved.

We want to see something we haven't seen before. It could be showstopping embellishment, such as the 6,000 pearls hand-sewn onto the Calvin Klein gown Lupita Nyong'o wore to the Oscars, or an interesting fabric combination, such as Tom Ford's one-part red velvet, one-part red crepe gown worn by Julianne Moore to the BAFTA Awards.

It could be a striking color, such as the brilliant saffron Solace London dress that Caitriona Balfe wore to the SAG Awards. Or it could be an unforgettable flourish, such as the sweetheart bow bustle on the Lanvin jumpsuit Emma Stone wore to the Golden Globes, or the contrasting black taping on the lapels of the playful beige Dolce & Gabbana suit that David Oyelowo wore to the Virtuosos Awards.

But we also want to see something familiar that fits into a star's style narrative. That's why pop star Lorde's oversized Narciso Rodriguez pantsuit and cropped top worked so well at the Golden Globes. It suited her tomboy chic. The same goes for the Army green Marc Jacobs dress worn by Claire Danes to the SAG Awards. Danes is known for ever-so-slightly edgy choices but never looks like a fashion victim.

When it comes to men's style, Jared Leto puts the forward in "fashion forward," as demonstrated by the bright blue Costume National blazer, matching blue socks, slim black tux pants and sparkly shoes he wore to the Critics' Choice Awards, along with his signature man bun.

Mostly, though, we want to see drama and an effort at creating a magical, memorable Hollywood moment. Rihanna played it perfectly at the Grammys, waiting to get out of her car until the last minute when the red carpet was clear, then gliding in like something out of a fairy tale, wearing an enormous pouf of pink tulle by Giambattista Valli.

Watching from home, you couldn't help but be entertained.

This story is part of the Los Angeles Times' Image Magazine spring fashion and travel issue.