Another sign that time has lost all meaning: the Oscars are this weekend. Remember the Academy Awards? It’s both an event and industrial complex—Hollywood honors its best and brightest for their work over a year, and in turn sponsors, fashion designers, and stylists get paid. The Oscars may have been pushed from the normal February slot to late April, but it appears the drama will not be dulled.
Unlike the Golden Globes, SAGs, and Emmys, the Oscars will not be a virtual affair. The night will air live from Union Station, rather than its usual home, the 3,400-seat Dolby Theater. This locale switcheroo is not just an attempt to scale back in austere times. Organizers say the 82-year-old railway terminal has been the backdrop for countless films. Moving Hollywood’s biggest night signifies a commitment to the industry carrying on in all of its glamour.
A note on glamour: We are being told it will return on Sunday night. Nominees may have Zoom-ed into past award shows, but now they will have a red carpet to walk on. But The Wall Street Journal reports it will be “shorter than usual.” Only nominees, their one approved guest, and celebrity presenters will be present.
According to a email from producers published by WWD, organizers are “aiming for a fusion of inspirational and aspirational, which in actual words means formal is totally cool if you want to go there, but casual is really not.”
The typical amount of press craning to shove microphones in faces will be missing. But some remain untouchable, even in these trying times: Giuliana Rancic and Karamo Brown will broadcast live for E! News.
Their faces will not have to be masked, however. The Academy, which did not respond to a request for comment, said this week that coverings are not mandatory for guests. That’s because, as Variety noted, “the ceremony… is being treated as a TV/film production” and not a celebration. Three cheers for loopholes.
That said, some precautions are in place. Only 170 people will be in the audience. Nominees won’t sit through the entire ceremony. They’ll be in the venue to watch their own category, but will then get escorted out to limit their contact with others. There will be temperature checks and everyone has to take three COVID tests “in the days leading up to the ceremony.”
Also, according to Deadline: “attendees will be in pods of two—a nominee and a guest—seated at tables and banquettes.” Cozy!
Stephen Soderbergh, who is co-producing the event, told Variety: “that masks would play ‘a very important role in the story.’”
“That topic is very central to the narrative,” Soderbergh said. So stayed tuned?
Lax masking aside, it has been a quieter run-up to the Oscars than usual. There are not the usual luncheons or screenings that would fill a calendar in “normal times.”
“Stylists usually see each other at show rooms and there would have been designers flying out to Los Angeles for the buzz,” Jessica Paster, who dressed Borat’s Maria Bakalova this season, told The Daily Beast. “But what we have seen regardless of a red carpet or virtual event is that we are still having fun. We are experimenting in pulling looks. We are still trying to bring joy in our field.”
Paster has worked in the industry for 24 years. She’s tough. Her motto is, “Just get the job done.” But even Paster noted that the advent of Zoom styling sessions have made her days longer; she gets even less sleep now that she styles clients both in Los Angeles, where she lives, and abroad.
“For me, what’s been challenging is that I don’t sleep at all,” Paster said. “I have a client shooting a movie and doing events in London. While we’re about to go to sleep, they get up. So I haven’t slept much.”
Paster is “excited” to get back to a red carpet, not virtual events where celebrities sometimes dressed up days in advance and release photos of their looks later. “That was interesting, because we made our own red carpet and narratives,” she said. “We made our own photoshoots, and now we’re going back to doing it in real time.”
For the rich and famous “working from home” essentially meant posting a beautiful, pre-approved Instagram post rather than dealing with night-of fashion drama and clamoring photographers. (What a life!) Will it be tough for celebrities to get reacquainted with the old ways?
“Are red carpets going to come back? I think absolutely,” former Fashion Police host George Kotsiopoulos said. “I applaud the people who actually go all out. I’m thinking about Regina King in that fabulous Louis Vuitton (at the Golden Globes.) If you’re nominated, it’s your time.”
True, King’s Golden Globes gown—one covered in 40,000 sequins, which took 350 hours to embroider by hand—oozed the kind of unabashed glitz that makes a red carpet. Other highlights of awards season included Harry Styles’ lime green feather boa at the Grammys, which reportedly led to a 1,500 percent spike in shoppers googling similar accessories.
“The stakes are not that high this year, which means that if people are reluctant to try new things, they have more of an opportunity to do that now,” Kotsiopoulos added. “It’s just whatever, we’re in a pandemic, they can wear what they want. This is the perfect opportunity to not be safe.”