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Red carpet fashion refers to the outfits worn on the red carpet at high profile gala celebrity events such as award ceremonies and film premieres. The clothes worn to award events such as the Oscars and the Golden Globes consistently receive intense worldwide media scrutiny, making their red carpets an international product placement area of great importance to fashion designers. Despite the publicity given to award ceremonies, other red-carpet events such as the Vogue-hosted Met Ball also have a significant impact on the fashion world.
Prior to the 1990s, many celebrities chose their own red-carpet dresses, with the Oscars being remembered for some extraordinary and eccentric outfit choices, including torn denim, sequinned jumpsuits and even Indian headdresses. For ceremonies such as the Golden Globes, it was rare to see a star dressing up formally until the late 1990s, with many nominees turning up casually dressed. When Halle Berry came to the 2000 ceremony in a glamorous white Valentino dress, it was described as a game-changer which set the standard for Golden Globe red carpet style, and according to Phillip Bloch, her stylist at the time, "began the time when a dress could actually make a career." The increasing dependence on fashion stylists was something that had emerged since the 1990s, leading to criticism that red carpet fashion, particularly at the Oscars, now appears "bland and homogeneous", following a model of "discreetly elegant gowns, softly swept-up hairdos and lots of diamond jewellery". The stylist's role is to try to ensure that the client only receives positive publicity for her appearance and is not featured on 'worst-dressed' lists.
In 2004, The New York Times, asking "Does the glamour of the Golden Globes steal the scene from Oscar?", observed that the wider range of potential nominees of the "younger, hipper" Globes, from television as well as film, offered designers more opportunity to have their work featured on the red carpet. Unlike the Oscars, nominees for the Golden Globes and other events are under less pressure to choose an expensive, one-of-a-kind haute couture gown, which is also easier for the designers who can offer samples from their latest ready-to-wear lines. One of the most widely publicised and talked-about red-carpet gowns was a ready-to-wear green Versace gown worn by Jennifer Lopez to the 42nd Grammy Awards ceremony on February 23, 2000.
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