It is that time of the year again when Hollywood celebrities meet on the red carpet, that train of scarlet that runs the entire length of a career from the Oscars, BAFTAS, Emmys and Golden Globes.
Red carpets are powerful places that have become known for making or breaking a celebrity.
At the time 14, Hailee Steinfeld was a Hollywood newcomer nominated for her role in True Grit.
She showed up at the Golden Globes in a cream designer gown and overnight she was on everybody’s radar.
Not only was she featured in Vogue – which is the Mecca of all magazine covers for a great number of celebrity publicity managers – but she is now also the face of Miu Miu.
These days, celebrities cannot be accurately described as brands. They are more products supported by precise machinery.
They are no longer making money out of their primary skill, be it as actors or singers. They are brand ambassadors, faces and spokespersons.
This now largely contributes not just to their profiles and boosts their earnings several fold, which further raises their profile and makes them eligible for further product branding and more attractive for future roles with better pay.
Women renowned for their red carpet style have gone on and forged alliances with fashion houses or created their own fashion houses. They could also be asked to launch fragrances.
These opportunities combine to make it possible for them to earn the equivalent of Kenya’s GDP each year. And in many ways, they can trace their glamorous lives to a very prolific red carpet moment.
Locally, we are nowhere close to this. The best dressed women on the red carpet so far remain Wahu wearing classic lines in a bronzed shade of gold as streamlined by Monica Kanari, and Amani in a purple Betty Vanetti, who she was nurturing a relationship with then, at the MTV MAMAs held at Kasarani Sports Centre all those years back.
Red carpets may be used as selling point for local events but they are merely walked on by celebrities.
By the time you get to this point in your career, you need to have a team of style advisers who include a fashion designer or several to dress you with one of a kind outfits, a definite sense of style both on and off the red carpet that can be pinned down, and a total awareness of what works with your body and complexion.
Alongside that, you must have a certain pull with the crowds and be worth interviewing.
We still have not got it right. Elsewhere, be it in the UK or Hollywood, the red carpet defines celebrities, whether or not they intend it to.
Personal style gets pinned down and will be the crux of reference in all future interactions with the media.
Celebrities are highly prone to ridicule and the only way to recover from a bad/silly/unfortunate choice is to make a smarter one on yet another red carpet.
Celebrities have even been known to go on crash diets for this. Bigger women get even more attention as their gowns must be customised to their none sample-sized bodies.
No one who is anyone ever steps on the red carpet with anything short of an entire village any more.
Not if you want to make a vivid, lasting and good impression. Add to that of course the fact that a proper red carpet in any part of the world is beamed across countries.
It is enough to increase your visibility from a local to an international personality not just for being in the right place at the right time, but for looking the part.
Even without the resources to mobilise an entire team to work on your look, there are quite a number of things we can take away from the red carpet.
First, and most striking, pay attention to the details. Do not disregard the shade you use to define your cheekbones and the colour of your shoes, even if they seem miles apart.
It matters. Colours, hues, textures, lines, smells, all of it is pulled together to produce the final red carpet look.
Marion Cottillard may have worn a Jean Paul Gaultier gown reminiscent of fish scales, but she remains etched in fashion memory.
Confidence and poise
Secondly, whatever choice of outfit you have on, wear it with confidence and poise. One of the most memorable gowns and moments remains Hilary Swank’s incredibly daring Guy Laroche cutout gown that showed off her back and dipped scarily low.
But she was unflinching in the face of thousands of camera flashes, handled the swarm of media people elegantly, and confidently waved and smiled at fans.
She later took to the stage to accept her second Oscar for The Million Dollar Baby, with her speech and gown broadcast across the world.
Confidence, elegance and poise may be invisible but are very much a part of whatever you wear and will shape opinion on your overall look.
Third, be flexible with your style. Hollywood stylists either try to style celebrities as they are perceived to be or attempt to break the mould by giving them an entirely unexpected look.
Granted, sometimes it can be a spectacular fail, but sometimes it works. Once in a while, mix it up and present a look that is totally unexpected.
Let loose once in a while; this will make people sit up and take notice.
In Hollywood what you wear is such serious business that industries are built around it. And that’s point four.
The fashion industry offers plenty of money-making opportunities for enterprising, fashionable Kenyans who choose to view it critically and identify the gaps.
For instance, E!’s broadcasts are enriched by a 360-degree camera that assesses a celebrity from every single imaginable angle in the era of high definition TV.
(Small wonder most celebrities cite the red carpet as a nerve-wracking affair.) This idea is not earth-shatteringly revolutionary, but it certainly upped the stakes for red carpet broadcasts and increased E!’s ratings.
Red carpet style is about being seen and making others wish they had your kind of creativity.
You may not get billions of viewers ogle you, but you can make an impact with the hundreds you cross paths with.