With the Oscars less than a week away, fashion insiders are buzzing about one of this year’s most closely watched competitions: the red carpet style race. This year’s entries include a number of rising stars, from Oscar nominees Brie Larson and Alicia Vikander to music up-and-comers like Zendaya.
These breakthrough artists are making a name for themselves as entertainment’s newest style influencers — and giving brands valuable exposure as well.
“It’s important to establish these relationships in the beginning,” said Brian Atwood. “Since many times the actress may be insecure and the red carpet can be stressful, you need her to feel confident. If she does, hopefully it [sparks] a long relationship.”
Paul Andrew knows the power of forging strong ties with budding celebs early on. “When Lupita Nyong’o first burst onto the scene in 2013, she felt a kinship with other creatives who weren’t totally established — which ultimately led to her wearing my red suede Zenadias to the 2014 Golden Globes,” the designer said.
More established designers, too, lauded the power of celebrity hits. “They impact not only brand awareness, but can influence sales,” said Stuart Weitzman. “Events like the Oscars provide a unique platform, unlike any other awards, to showcase my latest red carpet designs worldwide.”
Here, Footwear News takes a closer look at the leading ladies, and key designers talk about capitalizing on their red carpet moments.
The 2016 awards season darling has continually drawn rave reviews both on screen and on the red carpet. Though Larson has been in the entertainment industry since she was a teenager, her latest role, in the critically acclaimed film “Room,” has brought her into the spotlight.
Ahead of the Oscars, Larson has already won a Golden Globe, a SAG Award and the Critics’ Choice Award for her performance.
Larson is a fan of Brian Atwood — she wore his Oriana ankle-strap heels with a Jason Wu dress to kick off awards season at the Palm Springs Film Festival in January. “Since all eyes [have been] on Brie, it means your product will be front and center,” Atwood said. “That is a great position to be in, especially knowing that she may win. It’s the best form of advertising one can imagine.”
Vikander began her career in Swedish shorts and several TV series, but it wasn’t until her roles in “Anna Karenina” and 2015’s “Ex Machina” that she gained global attention.
As one of Hollywood’s newest “it” girls, Vikander rose to stardom while promoting “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” The Swedish actress made waves in Louis Vuitton after being named the house’s muse last year.
This awards season has proven that Vikander is one to watch on the red carpet. She has stood out in head-to-toe Louis Vuitton ensembles and often opts for Jimmy Choo.
“We value nurturing these relationships — they are all future stars, and we want to be with them on their journey,” said Jimmy Choo Creative Director Sandra Choi. “The red carpet becomes a global catwalk during awards season, which gives us incredible visibility.”
For her outstanding performance in “The Danish Girl,” Vikander is up for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards. So far, she has received a SAG Award and the Critics’ Choice Award. Keep an eye out for Vikander as she stars alongside Matt Damon in “Jason Bourne.”
James gained attention from fashion commentators when she emerged as a live-action Cinderella last year. The actress starred as the Disney princess in the film and stunned in custom Cinderella slippers from designers like Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin at multiple premieres.
Jimmy Choo’s Choi said, “Lily James’ choice to wear our Cinderella shoe for the world premiere of the ‘Cinderella’ film was a real-life fairy-tale moment. It means a lot when the next generation chooses us. They are continuing our special relationship with the red carpet and exposing Jimmy Choo to a younger audience.”
In 2016, James is continuing her impressive fashion choices with shoe looks from Aquazzura, Stuart Weitzman and Charlotte Olympia on her press tour for her latest film, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.”
Thanks to the best-selling “Fifty Shades” book trilogy, Johnson was quickly catapulted into Hollywood mayhem when she beat out many actresses for the coveted role of Anastasia Steele in the film “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Since the flick, Johnson has gone on to play Whitey Bulger’s girlfriend in “Black Mass,” and she’s expanded her genre range with a lead role in the comedy “How to Be Single.”
With this newfound fame, Johnson has become a regular at award shows, and she has been seen sitting front-row at fashion week. Her statement looks include Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Roger Vivier.
At the Venice Film Festival, Johnson wore a pair of Paul Andrew Metro shoes that resonated strongly with the actress and her team. “I was thrilled to hear that she, her publicist and her agent all placed orders for the shoe once they returned to the U.S.,” said the designer. “I thought it was a tremendous compliment.” He added that “rising stars are more adventurous, and thus more interesting on the red carpet, but more than that, they’re much more open to up-and-coming designers.”
Another promising member of young Hollywood is Margot Robbie. The Australian actress gained notoriety in the U.S. for her performance in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Her green Christian Louboutin peep-toes, which she paired with a Gucci gown for the 2014 Golden Globes, set the tone for Robbie’s future red carpet appearances.
Since then, the actress has found a favorite in Brian Atwood Besame heels, which she’s worn on multiple press occasions for the film “Focus.” She’s also a fan of Casadei, Aquazzura and Kurt Geiger.
“Dressing rising stars like Margot Robbie resonates with our customers,” said Rebecca Farrar-Hockley, creative director at Kurt Geiger. “Young actresses want an element of fashion edge that their fans can relate to, and we see that in their accessories.”
Robbie is now stepping into the superhero world — she stars as Harley Quinn in the highly anticipated summer release “Suicide Squad.”
Zendaya’s rise to fame happened quickly in 2015, with her fashion and style becoming major aspects of her brand. Last year, she released her first shoe collection, and she received her own Zendaya Barbie — based on her red carpet look from the 2015 Oscars ceremony, which received controversial criticism.
We’re seeing no sign of Zendaya slowing down in 2016. So far, she has been named the newest face of CoverGirl, and she’s made it her mission to continue to be a positive role model for young fans. When she’s not wearing her own Sole of Daya shoe line, Zendaya is seen in Ruthie Davis, Christian Louboutin and Brother Vellies.
Given the singer and actress’ 20.5 million Instagram fan base, Davis sees her association with Zendaya as a major plus for the brand.
“I absolutely love her energy and style, but also her heart and message,” said Davis. “I always like working with emerging talent because not only do they offer a fresh, youthful and often daring style, they are the future of fashion.”