Though the first red carpet originated in Hollywood almost a century ago, these fashion spectaculars still turn heads and gives rise to emerging, landmark looks. There’s no better place to spot emerging trends in 2017, whether they’re seen in the entranceway of the Hammerstein Ballroom, the Metropolitan Museum of Art or Staples Center.
To identify the most influential reveals, we turned to some of fashion’s best trendspotters: Wardrobe stylists.
Stylists have a deep knowledge of past and present styles and a finger on the pulse of the in-demand cuts, colors, and fits. Through their work on set and in clients’ homes, they notice what’s gaining steam in the market and what’s tapering off, and they see what transcends the celebrity barrier to become mainstream. Earlier this year, 26 million Americans tuned into the Grammys, and countless more saw the subsequent TV and magazine round-ups of outfits seen on the red carpet.
Part of stylists’ jobs is to adapt those inspirational outfits to more consumer- and influencer-friendly wardrobes. With half of 2017’s red-carpet arrivals now behind us, we tapped stylists Renata Gar, Chloe Lee, and Charlie Brianna to share who’s been making waves with their threads and what trends fans are picking up on.
1. Metallic colors
Back in February, celebrated singer Solange Knowles stood out in a gold-pleated asymmetrical Gucci gown at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.
NYC freelance stylist Renata Gar, known for her modern and polished feel, was struck by this powerful look that embraced the all-over metallic hue. The fierce neckline extended to frame the face and the peplum acted as a throne for the entire look. “It was another kind of fairytale: A power woman rather than a Disney princess,” says Gar. “I create that woman through my styling as well, so it’s something I deeply resonate with.”
Though her sister Beyoncé captured headlines for her Goddess Mother performance that same night, Knowles held her own.
2. Daring shapes
This past May, R&B rebel Rihanna turned heads in an explosive floral tribute to avant-garde designer Rei Kawakubo at The Met’s Costume Institute.
NYC freelance stylist Chloe Lee – who has worked on everything from Sean John campaigns to Vogue covers – describes Rihanna’s look as “bold, colorful, and full of vibrations.” Both Lee and Gar independently selected this Comme des Garçons look as a moment of significance. As Gar explains, “I always try to push my clients away from safe, expected choices. If I succeed in getting them to open up to new things, then half my job is done. Sharing looks like Rihanna’s with clients makes them feel more at ease with their daring choice, since their option is not that high up on the ‘daring scale’ in comparison.”
Lee also points out that model Helen Lasichanh sported a daring shape. Her red oversized bodysuit exaggerated the outline of the body and “made you rethink what fashion really is – shape, form, and imagination.”
Lee expands on this, noting, “It’s telling a story through fabric without the thought of mass market production and numbers.” Overall, the number was truly in step with the “Art of the In-Between” theme of the evening.
3. Elongated cuts
In June, singer/actress/Afro futurist Janelle Monáe exuded her energized style at the CFDA Fashion Awards in a floor-length striped jumpsuit by Christian Siriano.
L.A. freelance stylist Charlie Brianna remembers Monáe’s look as she arrived to accept her Board of Directors’ Tribute at this year’s industry honors. The impact of this look stood out to Brianna most of all because she has a penchant for expressive outfits. This West Coaster often chooses inventive accents for her clients, for everything from editorials and video shoots, to special occasions and red carpets.
Brianna says she’s already seeing the impact Monáe’s avant-garde outfit had beyond the red carpet: “I think lots of women are starting to try [the floor-length, creased pant] out, now. Especially given the more it’s been seen on the carpets and is available in the fast-fashion markets, as well.”
The Clear Winner
What this retrospective shows is that individuality trumps all and is the clear winner in fashion today. It’s the one constant that makes a red-carpet look into a red-carpet moment.
Trends that get noticed are simply about expression and creativity on every level. This is as true for the red carpet as it is for the living-room carpet. Lee agrees based on what she’s seeing on a consumer and retail level. “[We’re] seeing major fashion icons taking risks and that’s developed a more interesting and diverse range of youth expressions. This, in return, impacts what large retailers buy into their stores.”
“It’s less about how much skin you can show, and more about what you can exude in your daily style that is hidden in your personality,” continues Lee. “With designers becoming more fearless within the past year, the selection of clothing has made everyone more open to uniqueness, and, interestingly enough, more demanding of such.” She notes that even Helen Lasichanh’s husband Pharrell Williams injected his rather basic Met Gala look with individuality and a clear tie to his personal style.
Now we’re seeing the pull of celebrity style, and the push of customer willingness to buy tastefully daring looks surface as the red-carpet fashion story of the year. Looking to the future, this trend will flourish at Fashion Week in September and at the film industry’s ensuing red-carpet circuit.