This year’s awards season looks are marked by extremes: From the decadence of Rodarte ruffles to the political statements of pantsuits and pins. These are the clothing and jewelry designers who dress the stars and influence global fashion.
At a time when news is fake and Instagram and Snapchat feeds are filtered, Hollywood and fashion fans are rewarding what they see as authentic choices. From Evan Rachel Wood pointedly wearing pantsuits on awards-season red carpets (resulting in skyrocketing sales for Altuzarra) to Emma Watson sporting a lauded Elie Saab eco-gown made of couture scraps during her Beauty and the Beast press tour, “real” is in. Political statement pins, from ACLU ribbons to GLAAD lapel ampersands, have proven as effective in stirring social media frenzy as a stunning gown. “Especially right now, so much of what you see is fabricated moments,” says Joseph Altuzarra, one of THR’s top 20 red carpet designers. “People can smell the contracted dealmaking behind some of the pieces. They can tell when something is an expression of who someone really is.”
On social media, what brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior have “in common is that you have this sense of being there with someone, and the walls have come down,” Eva Chen, Instagram’s head of fashion partnerships, has said. Case in point: Reese Witherspoon eating pizza with her kids, hashtagged #AwardsShowFuel, before promoting Big Little Lies this Emmy season.
Of course, for the 20 multimillion- and billion-dollar brands on THR’s fourth annual list, glamour still reigns on fashion’s most effective platform, the red carpet — note Nicole Kidman’s scarlet Calvin Klein with dazzling crystal tie at the Emmys. A-list icons are ever in demand as the financial return on carpet placement is high: “People want a little piece of what these women have to offer, so yes, it’s 100 percent good for business,” says jewelry designer Jennifer Meyer, marking her first appearance on THR’s list. All designers who made the cut, listed here in alphabetical order, were selected based on prevalence of red carpet hits during the Oscar and Emmy seasons, magnitude of star power they attract and strong social media presence. The fantasy and escapism they create on the most anticipated carpets are perhaps more welcome than ever in Hollywood and beyond.
Who wore it: Jennifer Aniston, Mandy Moore
Key number: $7,500, the amount Meyer saved to launch her line in 2005. “It’s a company that I started completely on my own, and every year there has been growth — I’ve never borrowed a penny or gotten an investment,” says Meyer, daughter of NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer. “I’ve never paid anyone to wear my jewelry — Jen [Aniston], Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow have all been supportive. People want a little piece of what these women have to offer, so yes, it’s 100 percent good for my sales.” Meyer, 40, who launched her e-commerce site in June and immediately sold out of several styles, remains a top seller at Barneys and just announced plans for her first brick-and-mortar store at the Rick Caruso development in Pacific Palisades (opening summer 2018). She had more than 151 celebrity placements this year, including This Is Us’ Moore, who rocked pink sapphires and diamonds at the Emmys (“the most fun collaboration I’ve done,” says Meyer).
Red carpet moment: “Jen wore large circle earrings to the Leftovers premiere with a little black leather dress. Her hair was tucked back behind her ear, so the jewelry was fully on display,” says Meyer, who also crafted Aniston’s wedding band for her 2015 nuptials to Justin Theroux. Says Aniston, “It’s the one piece I never take off.”
How it all began: More than a decade ago, Meyer confessed to her then-beau Tobey Maguire (from whom she’s now separated) that she wanted to try designing jewelry. “He used a Star Wars quote — ‘There is no try, only do’ — and that got me,” says Meyer, who started with three pieces, including a gold leaf necklace. “I asked Jen’s stylists Nina and Clare Hallworth if they wouldn’t mind looking at my pieces, not even thinking anyone would wear them. Tobey and I were on vacation, and somebody brought a magazine, and there was Jen wearing my leaf.” Though Meyer’s industry connections may be influential, don’t assume Daddy stepped in, she says: “My dad is my best friend, my mentor, but he’s never made a call to help me with something that I should do on my own. He would rather quit his job. He is so respectful to people at Universal, and he would never want them to think they were doing him a favor.”
By Carol McColgin and Booth Moore