It’s red carpet season again. To kick off the glamour-soaked months ahead, the Annual Primetime Emmys will unfurl its fashionable walkway at the Microsoft Theater in L.A. for the 69th awards show on Sept. 17.
Television’s notables and celebrities use this occasion to make grand beauty gestures and fashion reveals, such as a dramatic contour or an electric color. Think: Lady Gaga’s one-shoulder gown or Emily Ratajkowski’s aquamarine smokey eye from last year’s Emmys show.
While the stars themselves are the ones who get the press, the regrams, and the hashtags, there’s also a whole ensemble that takes part in making certain these show-stopping moments make an impact.
So, who’s really a part of a celebrity’s grand reveal — before, during, and after the step-and-repeat?
The makeup artist who creates the look
Renowned makeup artist Michelle Coursey knows that when it comes to red-carpet looks, her work has to be bulletproof for hours because — unlike being on set — there’s no time for touch-ups. It’s a different animal from her editorial and campaign work for clients such as Allure, Nylon, Victoria’s Secret, and designer David Yurman. To get the look just right, Coursey considers the event’s tone, lighting, and weather, as well as the talent’s fashions, accessories and hairstyle. “I approach red-carpet beauty looks by taking everything into account,” she says.
This is something she’s become an expert at after prepping actresses, models, and celebrities for their grand entrances at events such as the SAG Awards, Met Ball, and Tribeca Film Festival. No matter the affair, Coursey describes her role as multifaceted, switching between artist, masseuse, and fashion consultant depending on the event. “You’re there to apply the makeup, of course, but you’re also there to help put the client at ease,” she says.
After using her professional finesse and high-end products to perfect the look, Coursey watches the talent enter a black car and get whisked away to the event. What happens next is up to the photographers that have another difficult job to do.
The photographer who gets the shot
Hollywood photographer Chelsea Lauren knows that without the photographers, such high-profile events wouldn’t be the same.
“[Red-carpet] videographers quite often show the photographers working, because I think people find the controlled chaos of the carpet exciting,” says Lauren. Giving audiences a glimpse of how photographers work — whether they’re roaming on the carpet or behind the stanchions — shows how critical they are to the stature of these events. She knows the scene well after being a part of it for 10 years and shooting the Emmys four times.
“The photos are what lives on when people discuss the fashions at the events,” she notes.
Knowing this, she makes a point to capture the fashion details, and fast — “In the first 10 seconds or so.” This includes noticing and snapping photos of manicures, jewelry, clutches, hairstyles (back and profile), and shoes — plus, new tattoos or engagement/wedding rings. Her process also entails making sure she also gets a variety of shots: Full-length, headshot and, if possible, over-the-shoulder full-length, and half-length compositions of the talent. That’s no small feat for an often-chaotic scene.
Such quick reflexes and smart choices are what make the images so press-worthy after the fact. Once the media gets a hold of these one-night-only images, they go viral. Internet personalities and bloggers take the timely content and put their own spin on it to further spread the fashion/beauty moment to their audiences.
The blogger who shares the trend with followers
One effective way to spread a fashion/beauty meme is to recreate it yourself. Fashion bloggers Katherine Tab of StyleTab and Missy Damon-Moore of PopOfStyle have shared red-carpet inspiration with their followers in just this way.
For example, Tab posted what she describes as Angelina Jolie’s “super saucy” Oscars statement dress as the inspiration for her fast-fashion, double-slit maxi look. In a similar move, Damon-Moore posted Emma Watson’s Oscars look. She called the shimmery gray gown paired with a red lip the way to “let the dress be the jewelry” and found a fast-fashion version of her own.
This month’s Emmys kick off the 2017–18 awards-show season for television, film, and music, including the Golden Globes and Grammys in January and the Academy Awards (Oscars) in February or March.
Together, the influential trio of makeup artists, photographers, and bloggers successfully nail the artistry-content-distribution marketing trifecta. The sum of all these specialists’ efforts is what truly grants prestige and novelty to each nominated notable who steps down that ruby-red walkway. As photographer Lauren notes, “I love seeing all of the people I shoot on a regular basis dressed to the nines. Everyone is in great spirits and there is a sort of electricity in the air that you don’t often find with other carpets.”