s the eyes of the world turn to Hollywood tomorrow for the 2018 Golden Globes, style watchers will be waiting with baited breath to see who’s chosen what silhouette, who’s put what shoe with which look, and who’s been bold enough to go for a pop of colour or a daring print. And that’s just the men.
As more and more of Hollywood’s leading men seek to make their mark on the red carpet, it’s no longer just women looking to award shows for the trickle down trends that will influence their wardrobes in the year ahead. Tomorrow night, all over the globe, fashion hungry men will be waiting to receive their first awards season style cues.
When Chris Rock pointed out at last year’s Oscars: “You’re not allowed to ask women what they’re wearing any more”, he argued that asking that question wasn’t sexist, and the reason no one asks the men of Hollywood what they’re wearing is because “they’re all wearing the exact same thing”.
One glimpse around the Dolby Theatre proved that nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, when it comes to formal red carpet fashion, the black tux still prevails, but Hollywood has been infiltrated by an influx of fashion rule breakers, bringing bold colours and punchy patterns to even the most staid and formal events. There’s Eddie Redmayne with his eye-popping Burberry check suits; Jared Leto with his sequined Gucci everything; Chris Evans in electric blue at the Oscars; Donald Glover wearing purple at the Emmys; and Mr. Robot star Rami Malek rocking up to the Met Gala in head-to-toe red Dior.
It’s a red carpet revolution, levelling the fashion playing field not by asking her more but by encouraging us to ask him less. After all, who needs to hear about Jared Leto’s ‘process’ when we could be finding out how many hours it took to embroider his custom Gucci suit? It’s a win for the brands, who get namechecked on the world’s biggest fashion stage, and for the celebs who stand to win lucrative endorsement deals if the brand synergy is there.
Just ask Malek. Over the last two years, no one has been more successful at leveraging their personal style to their professional advantage, and the architect behind his transition from unassuming TV nerd to Dior poster-boy and movie star is stylist Ilaria Urbinati.
With a client list than reads like GQ’s end of year run down of Hollywood’s most stylish men — Bradley Cooper, Tom Hiddleston, Donald Glover, Riz Ahmed, Chris Evans, Armie Hammer, and more — Ilaria has carved out a niche as the woman who helps Hollywood’s hottest men find their fashion edge. Often working directly with brands to create custom looks for her clients, along with brokering campaigns for the likes of Malek and Hiddleston, she’s positioned herself as the most influential woman in menswear.
Where once the men of Hollywood were content to cruise below the fashion critics’ radar, they’re now realising that casting yourself into the glare of the sartorial spotlight can help make you an even hotter property; placing up-and-comers in the running for prestigious roles or boosting an awards season campaign. Publicists no longer fear that a fervent embrace of fashion might emasculate their clients, so nowadays, even a mountain of raw masculinity like The Rock is happy to hit the red carpet in a maroon suit or dandyish check.
Meanwhile, studios have realised that fashion has the power to bolster a publicity push for a movie, and pay upwards of €10,000 to have their stars styled for a press tour. Last month, when Thor: Ragnarok was released, the readers of Vogue were asked to consider: Chris Hemsworth vs. Tom Hiddleston, Who Is Marvel’s Best Dressed Man? A compelling face-off to be sure, but a few short years ago, where the fashion press were concerned, any man sharing a red carpet with Cate Blanchett would have paled into insignificance in her presence.
Some — including Urbinati — attribute Hollywood’s newfound appreciation for fashion to the Mad Men effect, and there’s no doubt Donald Draper played a huge part in encouraging men everywhere to enjoy fashion again. But when it comes to the red carpet revolution, I would point to The Gosling Effect.
Perhaps I’m biased (he is my imaginary husband after all), but when Ryan Gosling premiered Drive at Cannes in May 2011, in a blue Ferragamo tuxedo, it felt like the kind of red carpet moment usually enjoyed by the most stylish female celebrities. Standing out in a sea of black, the look, the swagger, and the general air of Gosling hype all combined to make it feel like a defining moment in his career.
And 2011 was certainly his year. He had four major releases — Blue Valentine, Drive, Crazy Stupid Love and The Ides of March – and he turned those four consecutive press tours into a fashion tour de force, giving every look his own little twist and showcasing his ability to make literally anything work. He made velvet cool again, he pioneered the tux without a tie, he wore red socks with velvet slippers and teamed tuxedo trousers with a biker jacket.
Whether by accident or design, he flawlessly executed a strategy we typically associate with actresses: he was already everywhere, but he used fashion to amplify his presence; turning every red carpet appearance into fodder for blog posts, social media shares and column inches about what he’d worn and how he’d worn it.
Not only did he manage to do this without attracting ridicule, but Time magazine declared him the Coolest Person of the Year and GQ called him “the best dressed young actor on the planet”, saying he’d “redefined how modern movie stars look and feel”. If he went into 2011 as ‘that guy from the Notebook’, he left it as the guy every young actor wanted to emulate.
If every man in Hollywood called up their publicist and said, “I’ll have what he’s having”, step one involved hiring a stylist.
If you’re a man on the red carpet, it’s not hard to stand out, but there’s more to creating stand-out style than a simple embrace of colour. When it comes to dressing the dudes, the style is in the details. Shawl collar or peak lapels? One button or two? Stylists have an eye for the fashion touches that can elevate a look from average to iconic. Would Donald Glover’s brown velvet tuxedo at last year’s Golden Globes have had the same impact if he’d played it safe with a skinny tie?
Just as important is the fit, and Urbinati personally pins her client’s suits to ensure they fit exactly as she wants them to. On the red carpet, it’s not about how it feels; for the benefit of the social media style watchers, it’s about how it photographs. If you’ve ever looked at a guy on the red carpet and thought, ‘That’s a tight suit’, rest assured it’s by design, and according to David O’Connor, managing director of Louis Copeland, that’s just one element of red carpet styling that’s impacting how Irish men dress today.
“Our made-to-measure business is really taking off now because men want their suits to fit them exactly,” David says, “and with made-to-measure, that’s where we really feel the celebrity impact.” It’s six years since Ryan Gosling wore a velvet tux to the Golden Globes, but David remembers the impact that had at the time, and this winter -- fueled by its growing popularity on the red carpet -- he’s seen a surge of interest in velvet jackets; in navy and burgundy, as well as black.
It starts, he says, with guys coming in looking for “something different”.
“We hear that in the store a lot now. People don’t want the same thing as the next guy anymore, they want to express themselves with something individual. A key look for Irish guys right now is the midnight blue tuxedo, and we’re also seeing an appetite for separates. We have a lot of guys looking for sports jackets, but they’re also starting to think of clothing in terms of pieces. If someone buys a flannel wool check suit for winter, he’s wearing the trousers with a knit, he’s wearing the jacket with jeans, or he’s wearing it as a full suit.
“Seeing well dressed celebrities, the influence of fashion bloggers on Instagram, and of course Conor McGregor, it’s all having a huge impact on the Irish market. Irish guys want to dress like that now.”