11 February 2017
by Tamara Dumas
Who are you wearing?
Is by far one of the most important questions for media professionals during the red carpet events and the premieres. The 70th Cannes Film Festival - lasting 12 days and taking place in sub-tropical climate of South of France - is not an exception. And although the actors are not interviewed on the red carpet during the Cannes Film Festival, the importance of exposure for designers is not less valuable. Quite on contrary, longer Film Festival dates means that the celebrity might need to obtain up to 24 attires for the Festival – one for day event or premiere and one for the after party or a gala evening. A chain of premieres and gala parties provides a robust platform for red carpet marketing, turning attending talent into walking brand advertisements.
A chain of premieres and gala parties provides a robust platform for red carpet marketing, turning attending talent into walking brand advertisements.
The festival earns extensive coverage in daily, weekly and monthly print and online publications and is widely discussed online for months after. Although it’s hard to directly link Cannes red carpet appearances to sales, these appearances significantly raise brand awareness and brand’s perceived value.
The answer to the question, in truth, is often determined by a series of clandestine deals that reward celebrities — as well as their stylists — with significant sums of money. It is hardly a secret that for decades, Hollywood A-listers have benefitted from large sums for wearing a designer's garment at a big red carpet appearance. But now, stylists, hairstylists and makeup artists are increasingly getting a cut as well.
It is hardly a secret that for decades, Hollywood A-listers have benefitted from large sums for wearing a designer's garment at a big red carpet appearance.
Too Many Freebies?
“Stylists are being seen more as the middlemen between the designers and the celebrities,"
The truth is, the industry was spoiling celebrities with freebies for way too long for them to start paying for the service – hair do or the make-up. There are of course exceptions, but many make-up artists and stylists will happily do the job at reduced cost or for free. But you can only do so many freebies... Someone has to pay for the flight and accommodations as well as daily subsistence and the products of course. That’s where the sponsorship deals come in play.
“Stylists are being seen more as the middlemen between the designers and the celebrities," commented Micaela Erlanger, who works with celebrities like Meryl Streep and John Boyega among others. "We are able to put talent on a designer's radar and vice versa. Often designers look to stylists to tell them who is the best talent to represent the brand. Same goes for the talent, who won’t have time to do the research themselves."
Wheeling and dealing
Ever more often, a stylist or their agent -yes, stylists and make up artists have their agents too - is the one brokering these deals. If an independent stylist or their agent knows one of their clients has secured an appearance on the major event, they will ‘shop around’ for jewellery, accessories’ and beauty brands that might be interested in collaboration and sponsoring.
The stylist or their agent will search for “the best fit ethically and aesthetically. But it may happen that these factors become secondary if the "financial offer is great," according to one source who wishes to remain anonymous. In effort to secure the best deal, there might be a lot of negotiation, and why shouldn’t there? The same little tricks we use to get the price down on third party service in our daily life, prove to be handy here, too. For instance, if less desirable jewellery or beauty brand offers top price, an agent might go back to the preferred brand and try to make it to match the offer or pay a bit more. This can absolutely drain the marketing budget of a brand, one might argue, but bear with us; we get to the maths further down.
"These deals make big part of agents’ or independent stylists’ income"
"Studios used to pay well for hair and makeup and styling. Now everyone wants to be competitive and the rates have decreased. Agents and independent artists are often left to sort it themselves and are looking for other ways to compensate," says one agency insider. "These deals make big part of agents’ or independent stylists’ income". This applies especially when a celebrity is paying out of their own pocket. The artist will usually agree to a lower rate or does a freebie and then compensates ‘losses’ with sponsorship. If all else fails, its set against tax.
The artist will usually agree to a lower rate or does a freebie and then compensates ‘losses’ with sponsorship.
Do the math
Several industry sources revealed to BusinessofFashion.com that for a major red carpet event like the Oscars or Cannes Film Festival, a designer may pay anywhere between $25,000 and $50,000, to ensure that the dress ends up on the right A-listed shoulders. If the stylist is signed up with the agency add 15 to 20 percent agency fee and a hotel and airfare expenses. All in all, the celebrity may earn anywhere from $150,000 to $250,000 for walking up the red carpet stairs.
Like in any profitable store, every inch of celebrity’s ‘sales space’ must make money. Everything from the eyelashes to the pedicure has a price. Jewellery sponsors, it has been revealed, often pay stylists between $5,000 and $10,000, while makeup artists can be paid up to $45,000 for agreeing to use and credit product from any one given brand. For these deals, the image-makers are often cashing in more than the talent. Sometimes actors themselves are completely oblivious to these deals.
Sometimes actors themselves are completely oblivious to these deals.
To avoid the disappointment and falling out with the celebrity, "some of the time these deals are done secretly and celebrities and their representatives are kept in the dark" says the agency source. Usually, however, these deals are a win-win-win situation for all involved, including the brands.
"In theory it is excellent branding," says Jo Piazza, author of Celebrity, Inc.: How Famous People Make Money. "A celebrity wears your dress on a red carpet and pictures of that dress end up in celebrity magazines, on television and all over the internet. It's better than advertising because it feels more authentic. An ad in a magazine can cost between $10,000 and $25,000. A television commercial starts at $100,000. Web ads are cheap but relatively ineffective. So spending $50,000 to $100,000 just makes financial sense from an ad standpoint."
Erin O'Connor, Cannes Red Carpet 2015
Michelle Rodriguez, Cannes de Grisogono Gala,2015
Cate Blanchet, Cannes Red Carpet 2015
Karly Kloss, Cannes Red Carpet 2015
Salma Hayek, Cannes Red Carpet 2015
Kate Moss, Cannes Red Carpet 2016
Charlize Theron, Cannes Red Carpet 2016
Toni Garner, Cannes Red Carpet 2016
Ava West, Cannes Red Carpet 2016