We‘re entering the golden age of red carpet dressing. Never has a celebrity’s sartorial choices mattered more, particularly for women, but also a new guard of stylish guys like Timothée Chalamet, Tyler, the Creator, and Ezra Miller. It’s never been easier to see (and engage with) their looks, either. Whether it’s Kim Kardashian in archival Versace, Chalamet in a hot pink women’s suit by Stella McCartney, or an entire industry of women wearing black for 2018’s #MeToo movement, we’re completely obsessed. We want to know how, where, and most importantly why they’re wearing what they’re wearing. Kardashian has made designer vintage and secondhand the ne plus ultra of fashion fandom; Chalamet is leading the conversation on experimental menswear and gender fluidity; with or without the #MeToo subtext, wearing black feels newly elegant and powerful.
All to say, the red carpets are guaranteed to be interesting in 2020. So why wear something safe and boring? As we approach the January and February awards show circuit, we‘re hoping to see vibrant, surprising, meaningful, and truly attention-grabbing looks. Valentino’s glittering burnt-orange gown would be an optimistic start to the new decade, and its easy, modern silhouette would be equally radiant on Saoirse Ronan or Tilda Swinton; can’t you imagine each making it their own? Sarah Burton’s tulle Alexander McQueen dress with a built-in spliced blazer would be similarly glamorous and memorable, and we’d be pretty floored if someone actually dared to wear Balenciaga’s gilded, light-as-air angel gown.
Dries Van Noten’s black column rimmed with feathers (a collaboration with Christian Lacroix) is a more subdued pick, but would still register as a risk on the red carpet. What all of these looks have in common is that they’re so special, gorgeous, and so carefully made that it would be a shame to only see them once. Earlier this year, my editor Nicole Phelps argued that stars should re-wear their best looks (or wear a dress that’s already been seen on someone else) to send another kind of message: one about over-consumption and the environmental toll of constant new fashion. Even though A-listers rarely keep their gowns—typically, they’re loaned from brands and are returned to their archives after the event—the concept could trickle down to the average fashion fan and their own version of a red carpet: Instagram. In conversations about fast fashion and overconsumption, the social platform is almost always cited as a factor, because no one wants evidence of a repeated outfit. But wouldn’t that start to feel silly if Kristen Stewart or Cate Blanchett were repeating Chanel dresses and Givenchy suits at the Oscars or Golden Globes? The trend for designer vintage and secondhand is an even bolder counter to our single-wear culture: Not only has a ’90s dress certainly been worn before, but it’s likely been worn by several different people.
The looks we’ve rounded up here are from the fall 2019 couture and spring 2020 ready-to-wear shows, so they’re too new to be “repeats” yet. But there are dozens of award shows, premieres, photo calls, and fashion shows to come this year, and we’re excited to see how it all unfolds. Scroll through our favorite looks (so far) below, and mark your calendar for the couture shows in January; they tend to deliver a few more options, just in time for the Oscars.