Admit it, as much as you like to see who's going to pick up an Oscar, you also love to see what the stars are wearing. Pre-show red carpet interviews with stars parading down the red carpet and answering the famous "who are you wearing" question have become a widely watched event.
And that interest has turned into big business for designers whose rewards extend well beyond the Oscar night. For an actress, wearing a beautiful dress guarantees her a spot on the "best dressed list" but it has another impact on a designer.
The value of an Oscar photo
The publicity value for a designer is not limited to just Oscar night, the rewards can last long after the Oscar ceremony is over and in some cases can translate to years of free publicity.
Think of Uma Thurman in that lavender Prada dress, Julia Roberts in a vintage Valentino gown, Angelina Jolie in a white Dolce & Gabbana suit, or Marjan Pejoski's swan creation that only Bjork could pull off, Nicole Kidman in Chanel and Halle Berry in Elie Saab.
The lavish and sophisticated couture creations of Lebanese designer Elie Saab had been spotted before at red carpet events, but last year was the first time that an actress won an Oscar wearing one of his designs. Last March, when Academy Award winner Halle Berry walked the red carpet so elegantly in an Elie Saab couture gown, the spotlights were on him too. "It is no doubt an ultimate achievement for a fashion house to be part of such glamorous event," Saab said.
The photos of Halle Berry in Saab couture appearing on magazine covers around the world gave an invaluable publicity to Elie Saab. "Nothing comes close to the publicity and overall expansion that the house received as a result of dressing an Oscar-winning actress," said Saab, who is a favorite couturier of royals, Middle Eastern princesses and one elusive bride who ordered his $2 million dollar dress with emeralds and diamonds.
Elie Saab's couture line is exclusively available in Beirut and Paris boutiques, and in the U.S. his ready-to-wear line is sold at Neiman Marcus. As Saab's career continues to rise to new heights and his business continues to flourish, the company plans to increase their worldwide retail presence with the first U.S. store in New York City in the near future.
Red carpet dressing
The rewards of an Oscar night add up to big business for designers, not just for up and coming ones but also for the long-time favorites of Hollywood. It is estimated that designers receive millions of free publicity based on advertising and press coverage that they receive from Oscar night.
Another hit from last year was Nicole Kidman, in a pale pink chiffon Chanel couture dress, accessorizing it with a 241-carat rough diamond Bvlgari necklace. The publicity value of outfitting Kidman translated to "over $10 million just in the U.S.," says Ann Fahey, executive director of public relations for Chanel.
The Bvlgari necklace, worth over $4 million dollars, is made of thirteen white rough diamonds set in platinum and three yellow rough diamonds set in yellow gold, of which one yellow diamond is over 65 carats. This unique necklace was made especially for Nicole Kidman, by Bvlgari and the Diamond Trading Company, (part of the De Beers Group), who provided the selection of rare rough diamonds from Botswana, South Africa and Namibia.