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Who Are You Wearing

As Hollywood gets set for its biggest night of the year, a new generation of stars are rewriting the red carpet rules.

From the moment the Oscar nominations are announced every January, two races begin. The studios marshall all their considerable powers to push their movies on the Academy voters — and the industry’s leading ladies (and their hard-working stylists) battle to secure the ultimate gown. It mightn’t seem as serious, but this is a high-stakes fashion race. For many, how they look on the night will be as intensely dissected — and in some cases, remembered longer then — many of their performances.

Their male counterparts, on the other hand, have it ridiculously easy. Shower, shave, wear a suit that fits and polish your shoes; ever since the first Academy Awards at the Roosevelt Hotel in 1929, it’s generally just been a matter of getting the job done.

But no more. At some point round the turn of the millennium, red carpet dressing for men finally began to get interesting. Tom Ford played a key part in this peacock revolution, persuading men out of bog-standard black and into tuxedo jackets covered in Op Art prints or lavish embroidery. So too did music icons like Kanye West and Tinie Tempah — men who’ve become as famous for what they wear, as for their music, and who’ve thrown out the old red-carpet rulebook in favour of an excitingly eclectic new approach.

In Hollywood (where the cult of old-school glamour is worshipped like a religion) the change in mood took a little longer to arrive. But the industry is seeing a new generation of leading man arrive in the spotlight — bringing with them a new attitude to clothes. When Eddie Redmayne picked up his Oscar for The Theory of Everything in 2015, he wore a sleek velvet tuxedo (and matching embroidered slippers). And he’s not alone; Ryan Gosling’s adds a retro twist to everything he wears – and for everything from walking the carpet at the Drive premiere in 2012 to taking a turn on Jimmy Fallon’s chat show sofa, that’s included a pair of Rat Pack-ready slippers. Brad Pitt, Douglas Booth, Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul and The Wire’s Michael C. Jordan are all part of the fan club too. And Nick Cannon stole the show (more than once) with a diamond studded pair worth a cool $2 million. But they all pale into insignificance next to Jared Leto, whose eclectic slipper wardrobe — embellished, crystal-coated, zebra patterned — keep his internet following on the edge of their seats.

Just a passing trend? It’s unlikely. For proof, look no further than Caleb McLaughlin, the teenage star of cult TV hit Stranger Things. Aged just fifteen, he rocked the Golden Globes carpet in a sharp silver tux and red-edged slippers, outshining pretty much every other actor there. Welcome to the new formal.