The plunging red gown Cindy Crawford wore to the Oscars in 1991 comes second only to Elizabeth Hurley’s safety pin number (1994) and J Lo’s wild jungle-printed dress (2000) in terms of the most iconic Versace looks of all time. The power of a LRD (little red dress, duh!) needs nothing in the way of an explainer. Wear a siren-coloured mini or maxi and turn heads.
Red was, accordingly, big news at this year’s Academy Awards – the final hurrah of a season which saw stylists aim to deliver “show-stopping Hollywood glamour” as a welcome shot in the arm defying a dismal news cycle. Best Supporting Actress winner Ariana DeBose chose “punchy” Valentino haute couture coords to match her fiery personality, Tracee Ellis Ross went old school in almost prom-esque tomato-red Carolina Herrera, and Jennifer Garner let her strawberry Brandon Maxwell column dress do the talking during her Juno reunion.
Stars at the after-party also came up looking rosy. Sophie Turner wore a regal custom Louis Vuitton gown with a gentle peplum waist that framed her growing baby bump and had shades of Sansa Stark thanks to the Game of Thrones actor’s shocking hair dye job. Sheila Atim packed a punch in vibrant Prada sequins, while bright young thing Kaitlyn Dever also echoed the loud and proud, as red as you like fashion on the recent runways.
From Bella Hadid’s Latex Versace moment to Adut Akech’s high-shine Alaïa ballgown, the most striking nods to the colour of the moment (bar hot pink of course!) were full-look red for autumn/winter 2022. See Giambattista Valli, Max Mara and Courrèges for other standout examples of how to do the Pantone with serious panache from top-to-toe.
What do the abundance of red threads say about where fashion – and indeed society, which the industry holds a mirror up to – is at right now? “There is no other colour that is so fundamental, so fused to our primal, human itches,” writes Charlotte Sinclair in her Vogue essay on the hot hue. “Red takes no prisoners. It is emphasis itself, the double underline, the stop sign, the alert, the roadblock, the alarm, the danger, the oomph, the sex, the passion, the incitement, the excitement. It’s the colour of kings and queens, war and empire, theatre and power. Red is adrenaline, fireworks, the break with convention. It is shame and violence and blushing and rage.”
During a time when it’s easier to feel discombobulated than not, it’s not surprising that the tint which simultaneously means life and danger is trending. Nothing says wearing your heart on your sleeve like wearing red this season. The drama of it! Think: the Cinderella-esque style of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, the defiance of Meghan Markle in caped Safiyaa during one of her final appearances as a senior royal, and the wildly provocative Franc Fernandez meat dress worn by Lady Gaga at the 2010 Grammys. Red is Cindy on the arm of Richard Gere at the 1991 Oscars, and who doesn’t want to radiate a drop of that energy?
Get a head start on the trend with these red pieces that command attention in the chicest way possible…