Red carpet's new class: Our list of the 10 fresh, standout fashion players
By Melissa Magsaysay
Feb 23, 2018 | 1:20 PM
The red carpet as we know it has rolled out far beyond the 50-foot stretch of crimson flooring where stars stride from their chauffeured SUVs to the steps of any given event.
This awards season, the red carpet has become a place where politics — calls to celebrate diversity as well as gender equality — have joined the dresses, clutches, tuxes and jewelry.
However, the red carpet really is where fashion moments are made. It’s also where gowns and accessories from household-name fashion brands such as Prada, Valentino, Jimmy Choo and Oscar de la Renta are now mixing with a rising class of newer designers, many of whom celebrate the individuality of the star they are dressing and are becoming bold standouts because of their playful, forward-thinking and sometimes, political approach to how they are creating red-carpet looks. These young and burgeoning labels are managing to compete for the attention of celebrities — some of whom have lucrative contracts with major fashion houses — and their stylists despite the fact that in many cases these newbies have little to no resources to engage in the “pay-to-play” practices that can occur within the red-carpet machine.
“Creativity is currency,” said Steven Kolb, president and chief executive of the Council of Fashion Designers of America about newer labels landing on the red carpet. “I truly believe that a standout design can compete among established brands.”
This month, the CFDA, joined by Women’s Wear Daily and Variety, had its first event focused solely on the red carpet. It was a panel discussion with designer Vera Wang and stylists Cristina Ehrlich, Elizabeth Stewart, Karla Welch and Law Roach.
“The fascination with celebrity style on the red carpet is universal,” Kolb said. “With social channels, the impact can be immediate and global. That makes the red carpet even more relevant. Such potential doesn’t go unnoticed by new, emerging designers.”
While plenty of newer or up-and-coming brands are proving their ability to appeal to the world’s biggest stars and stylists, here’s our list of those labels — a rising new class of designers poised to become the next household names within Hollywood and around the globe — that recently have had a serious influence on the red carpet.
The Brooklyn, N.Y., native honed her skills working for Oscar de la Renta as well as Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. Assoulin launched her eponymous collection in 2014, proving that a light, feminine and whimsical aesthetic could still be a red-carpet heavyweight.
Why she matters: Assoulin has become one of the most-talked-about and sought-after lines among fashion insiders because of the designer’s bold use of color and standout voluminous silhouettes. Her fall 2018 collection, which she presented during New York Fashion Week this month, included marbled textiles, tiered ruffles and exaggerated bell-bottom pants.
“I just love that Rosie is really someone who thinks outside the paradigm of regular red-carpet fashion,” says stylist Karla Welch, who dresses Tracee Ellis Ross, Justin Bieber, Karlie Kloss, Sarah Paulson and a slew of other A-listers. “She disregards traditional sparkle and shapes and makes dresses with love. It’s never an easy choice and it’s never obvious. But every time I’ve ever placed a Rosie [piece], my clients have loved wearing it.”
Assoulin’s red-carpet hits include:
Mandy Moore in a black halter gown with wide red sash for the Golden Globes this year.
Issa Rae in a white dress with pleated gold detail for the Los Angeles premiere of “Black Panther” this year.
Tessa Thompson in a rainbow-hued halter neck gown for the 2017 Emmy Awards.
Tracee Ellis Ross in a color-blocked wrap dress for the 2017 MTV Movie Awards.
Born into fashion — his parents worked in the industry — designer Christos Costarellos launched his fashion label of ready-to-wear clothing in Greece in 1998. Now with global distribution, Costarellos is known for his flowing Grecian goddess-inspired silhouettes, use of lace and appliqué and ultra-feminine designs.
Why he matters: A Costarellos dress is essentially unmistakable for the feminine-yet-modern take on a dress. His bridal line has gained tons of traction for its twist on traditional bridal gowns (think high necklines and blouson sleeves). Meghan Markle has sung the line’s praises in interviews, saying she is a big fan. Some fashion insiders are speculating that Markle may choose the designer to create her wedding dress for the upcoming royal nuptials.
Costarellos’ red-carpet hits include:
Chrissy Teigen in an off-the-shoulder red tulle gown at the Baby2Baby Gala in 2017.
Rachel Platten wearing a white dress with red outlined lace pattern at the MusicCares Person of the Year event this year.
Jurnee Smollett-Bell in a blush lace gown with a high neck to the NAACP Image Awards this year.
The Spanish label Delpozo launched in 2012 and is helmed by creative director Josep Font. It’s known for its quirky use of color, exaggerated details (think shoulder ruffles and peplums) and architectural silhouettes. Font refers to the brand as “prêt-à-couture,” which results in an effortless balance between traditional dressy frocks and daytime looks.
Why Font matters: The brand provides a veritable buffet for stars who are looking to step outside the traditional sartorial box of red-carpet dressing. Color combinations are sometimes baffling at first blush and the shapes and details on a dress totally unexpected. (For example, consider the crisp white midi-dress with a capelet that Michelle Obama wore as host of the Let Girls Learn conference in Madrid in 2016.) However, Delpozo dresses appear to be the ones that are the most eye-catching and telling of the woman wearing it. The styles are not for wallflowers or wannabes but for risk takers and those looking to blaze their own trail on the red carpet.
Delpozo’s red-carpet hits include:
Ruth Negga in a midi-dress with exaggerated sleeves and floral skirt to the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a blush, light blue and yellow tulle gown to the Critics Choice Awards this year.
Kiernan Shipka in a sequin and tulle top with pink bow detail and metallic trousers to the Critics Choice Awards this year.
The South Vietnam-born-and-raised, Orange County-based designer creates a collection of gowns that nod to his Eastern upbringing.
The designer’s parents owned a sewing school in Vietnam, where as a child Nguyen learned the craft. After immigrating to the United States, he enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles.
Nguyen then designed for the now-defunct L.A. label BCBG until opening his eponymous brand Thai Nguyen Atelier in 2008.
Why Nguyen matters: Nguyen isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel of what makes a gorgeous, timeless and standout design. Armed with undeniable technical skills, he’s able to masterfully execute daring shapes, low-cut details and sheer styles to look as rich and tasteful as designs that are demure.
Nguyen’s red-carpet hits include:
Kelly Marie Tran in a custom red, strapless gown with a train for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” premiere in December 2017. This was the actress’ first major film premiere.
Madeline Brewer in an embellished black dress with sheer mesh skirt to the 2017 Television Critics Awards.
Jennifer Lopez in a semi-sheer, beaded black lace dress on “American Idol” in 2016.
The Paris-based, made-in-Italy shoe label Olgana Paris was started in 2014. Creative director Olga Djanguirov studied medicine and then contemporary art, parlaying her love of couture techniques to footwear. Her shoes have some unexpected flourishes such as fur trim, floral appliqué detail and pleated satin folds, which makes sense to pair with eveningwear and real red-carpet-ready looks.
Why Djanguirov matters: There are plenty of options for chic-and-sleek black pumps, standout platform shoes and sky-high stilettos in every shade imaginable, but what Djanguirov has created are sexy, unexpected and out-of-the-box shoes that on paper may not even make sense. (Consider the thick fur-strap pumps Rihanna paired with ripped baggy jeans and a menswear-inspired blazer or the poppy red and black slingbacks with flower appliqué that Tracee Ellis Ross wore with a matching red and black dress.)
Elisabeth Moss wore Djanguirov’s blush-colored satin ankle-tie heels to the 2017 Emmy Awards.
Djanguirov’s red-carpet hits include:
Elisabeth Moss wearing blush-colored satin heels at the 2017 Emmy Awards.
Lupita Nyong’o in black satin asymmetrical strap sandals during the “Black Panther” in Seoul, South Korea, in February.
Kristen Wiig in crystal-embellished gold sandals to the 2017 Governors Awards.
Mary Alice Malone and Roy Luwolt
Malone Souliers, the New York-based luxury shoe brand, was founded by Mary Alice Malone and Roy Luwolt in 2014. Three years later, the duo was awarded with the Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent Award from Footwear News. The label has collaborated with Adam Lippes, David Koma, Roksanda and most recently, Emanuel Ungaro. (The latter collaboration launches with pre-fall, and will continue through the fall/winter 2018 season.)
WhyLuwolt and Malone matter: The label’s designs transition from day to night, making them regular red-carpet accessories for casual premieres as well as dressier grand events.
Their corset lace top “Montana” pump and the triple-strap “Maureen” pump are almost instantly recognizable the second they become visible from beneath a long dress.
Luwolt and Malone’s red-carpet hits include:
Ava DuVernay wearing the black leather lace-up “Montana” pump to the Teen Vogue L.A. Summit keynote address in 2017 and the “Imogen” pump to the Producers Guild Awards in January.
Rachel Brosnahan wore the triple strap “Robyn” pump to the BAFTA Los Angeles Tea Party in January.
Lake Bell in embellished pink “Zia” pumps during Paris Fashion Week in Paris this year.
The British accessories designer founded her eponymous label in 2012. Webster’s shoes are unmistakable because of details such as crystallized angel wings, bright shades of glitter and boldly colored pom-pom tassels.
Webster has grown her brand to include children, bridal and handbag ranges that carry out the same whimsical aesthetic as her shoes.
Why Webster matters: Webster has managed to maintain a sense of covetable quirkiness in luxury accessories. When celebrities wore black to the 75th Golden Globes this year, many opted to wear Webster’s shoes to add extra embellishment to the all-black ensembles. When Oprah Winfrey received her Cecil B. DeMille Award during the Golden Globes, she paired Webster’s “Coco” crystal pumps with her off-the-shoulder black Atelier Versace dress.
Like Olgana Paris, Sophia Webster shoes are not for wallflowers, but they remain chic, sophisticated and hard to miss — all in a good way.
Webster’s red-carpet hits include:
Beyoncé in multi-colored slingback sandals with the words “Queen” and “Bee” printed across the top of each shoe in 2014.
Zoë Kravitz in triple-strap satin sandals to the 2017 premiere of HBO’s “Big Little Lies.”
Rose Byrne wearing “Lilico” crystal pumps to the 2018 G'Day USA Gala in Los Angeles.
The former interior designer started her eponymous bag label in 2014. Inspired by the minimalist movement of the 1960s and the artistic philosophies of conceptual artists such as Sol LeWitt and Donald Judd, Lee Savage first reimagined the clutch as an art object. In 2014, WWD named Savage one of its “10 of Tomorrow.”
Why Savage matters: The clean lines and architectural influence seen in Savage’s bags appeal to celebrities — or everyday people — who like a statement accessory that doesn’t scream.
The designer treats her creations more like sculptures that just happen to hold lip gloss and an iPhone, and they have caught the eye of stylists who see the benefit of a metallic statement bag that won’t compete with a dress, jewelry or the star for that matter.
Savage’s red-carpet hits include:
Beyoncé holding a gold rectangle clutch to Rihanna’s Diamond Ball in 2017.
Diane Kruger with a white engraved box clutch to 2017 UNICEF Gala dinner.
Janelle Monáe carrying a printed box clutch to the Los Angeles movie premiere of “Annihilation” this month.
Beladora, the Beverly Hills-based online estate jewelry firm, was established in 2007. Created by Russell Fogarty, a former vice president of Christie’s Auction House, Beladora authenticates each piece that comes through the Rodeo Drive office and has gained a reputation as a trusted source for buying and selling with Los Angeles elite.
Why Beladora matters: The brand, which carries fine jewelry from major brands, including Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Van Cleef & Arpels, David Webb and Bulgari, has become a go-to source for stylists and industry insiders who often need everything from a hard-to-find singular spectacular piece to trays of jewelry options, usually at the last minute.
Beladora sells jewelry online at www.beladora.com but accommodates stylist and celebrity pulls for red-carpet events around the globe.
Beladora’s red-carpet hits include:
Jennifer Lawrence wearing diamond flower drop earrings at the Washington premiere of “Red Sparrow” this month.
Rihanna wearing vintage Cartier earrings and a ring at the 2018 Grammys.
Angelina Jolie wearing a mid-20th-century diamond brooch to the 2017 Los Angeles premiere of “The Bread Winner.”
The Greek designer comes from a family of jewelry designers. In 2006, he launched his own brand.
Last year, Koulis won the International Jewelry Designer Award at the VicenzaOro exhibition in Italy, and has landed on the radar of several prominent stylists who have consistently been placing the jewelry on their clients.
Why Koulis matters: When it comes to jewelry, it’s oftentimes the largest or flashiest pieces that pull the most attention. Koulis has managed to cut through the long list of red-carpet-worthy jewelry brands with distinct designs, sharp angles, a bold use of black enamel and, yes, plenty of dazzling diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies.
Koulis’ red-carpet hits include:
Oprah Winfrey wearing diamond, emerald and enamel earrings to the 2017 Emmys Awards.
Saoirse Ronan wearing a white diamond lariat at this year’s Directors Guild Awards.
Greta Gerwig wearing an emerald, diamond and enamel necklace and ring to this year’s Producers Guild Awards.
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