The truth of the matter, is that when it comes to award shows, the trials and tribulations of the red carpet are more often than not more interesting than the actual award ceremony itself.
The stars parade down the carpet flashing super-white smiles, throwing a sultry look or two for the camera and gush about their getup, that they ‘just threw on an hour ago’. And, like most other things in Hollywood, ‘the this old thing?’ is pure make-believe. Every nominee, attendee or ‘friend of’ spends days preparing for their golden moment. From plastic surgery, to body treatments, a veritable army offensive of choosing the dress and mini-battalion doing their hair and make-up, nothing about the evening is last minute. When they say, ‘this old thing’ they’re more than likely referring to a vintage designer piece that certainly hasn’t been sitting at the back of anyone’s closet.
For the designers and jewelers, the publicity of dressing a star is worth hundreds of thousand dollars. Photos of the beaming celeb bedecked in their wares are printed and aired around the world, showing us all that they are the choice of the ‘those in the know’. Remember JLo and the infamous green Versace dress, split deliriously down the middle and magically hovering in place over her last few bits of concealed dignity. After that night, who hadn’t heard of Versace.
Over the years, the pressure on companies to dress the stars at these events has become so intense that a few wheeling-dealing celebrities and their stylists have discovered a lucrative side business – Cash for Clobber. Some rather underhanded stylists have taken to charging companies before they will even consider their clothes or jewels as possibilities for the A-list mannequins. Others are outright demanding ‘rent’ space. Quite simply charging companies to ‘rent’ space on the celebrity on which they can ‘display’ their jewels – it certainly gives a new meaning to ‘shelf space’.
A few years ago, this practice of hiring celebrity shelf space hit the headlines when, according to TimesOnline (a London-based newspaper), Hilary Swank returned the jewels she had borrowed from Harry Winston to wear at the 2005 Oscars (the year she won the Best Actress award) as Chopard was offering to pay her a reported $90,000 to wear its gems instead. The L.A. Times had early commented that both Swank and Charlize Theron had returned their loaned Harry Winston jewels just 24 hours before the start of the 2005 Golden Globes after allegedly receiving “6 figure checks” from Chopard to wear its designs to the event.
This practice, is by no means ubiquitous, there are still, thankfully, plenty of stars that wear the jewels they love with not a ‘rent’ contract in sight. And there remains plenty of jewelry that’s so spectacular that the stars themselves fight over who gets to host them for the night. In this diamond issue, we look back at some of the incredible jewels of award ceremonies past. Even if the movie bombed or the star has since plummeted down to earth, their jewels and gowns remain as icons of awe.
In 1970, Elizabeth Taylor asked legendary costume designer Edith Head to whip up a gown that would show off the 69-carat, pear-shaped diamond that Richard Burton gave her. Taylor ended up in a simple tank gown with a plunging V-neck, her hair in an up-do so it wouldn’t hide the necklace. Nine years later the diamond was sold for close to three million dollars.
In 1996, Presenter Salma Hayek made a true star statement when she showed up in a stunning diamond tiara from Fred Leighton. She stated, “When is a girl going to wear a tiara if not to the Oscars?”
In 1997, a $490,000 Chanel comet diamond was literally purchased off the neck of Celine Dion. The buyer called Chanel only minutes after Dion appeared on the red carpet and snapped up the diamond extravaganza.
The 15-carat, blue diamond necklace worn to the 1998 Oscars by Best Supporting Actress nominee Gloria Stuart was worth $20 million, and required that she have two security men with her at all times. The extremely rare blue diamond was Harry Winston’s version of the “Heart of the Ocean” featured in the Oscar winning film “Titanic.”
In 1999, when Whoopi Goldberg served as host of the Academy Awards, she set the record wearing an estimated $71 million worth of diamonds on stage, including a ten million dollar diamond ring by Harry Winston.