The Oscars: The Torture Behind Red-Carpet Glamour

Per molte celebrità, i preparativi alla cerimonia degli Oscar includono pratiche che vanno oltre l’acconciatura e la manicure: diete drastiche, liposuzioni, botox e ansiolitici sono all’ordine del giorno.

Melanie Rickey

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Sarah Davison

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The Oscars red carpet is often referred to by the celebrity press as the most powerful catwalk in the world. It is the gilded stage for which haute couture dresses are made; bright lights fall on film stars dressed by the world’s most accomplished designers in some of the most expensive items of clothing ever made.

But for many of the nominees, what goes on in the run-up to Oscar Sunday involves weeks of hunger, sacrifice and last-minute liposuction. “It is brutal,” British facialist Nichola Joss told The New York Times, of the pressure of the high-definition close-up on Hollywood actors. “You can see a hair follicle. You can see a pimple before it is a pimple.”

Hollywood insiders talk of actors who plot their beauty treatments at different points around Los Angeles in a bid to lose photographers between pedicure appointments and derma-filler treatments. Anti-anxiety pills such as Xanax are said to be widely used by nominees.

“The entire city stops normal activity and the Oscars take over; the atmosphere is surprisingly serious,” says gossip columnist Dean Piper, who is in LA to cover the Oscars. “Most of the A-list have been through the Saint-Tropez tanning suite at the Four Seasons by now, so their skin colour can settle for Sunday. But I’m seeing stylists whooshing around town in their Range Rovers, pulling gowns from boutiques where they are being altered, and the nail bars are heaving. The actresses I’ve seen at lunch are simply pushing leaves around their plate.”

High-definition photography and the prevalence of social media means that actors now face having the minute details of every angle of their body and face appear in hundreds of photos online. As a result, the stakes for red-carpet glamour have never been higher.

“You know it’s the Oscars because suddenly everyone is on the cayenne and lemon juice diet, and talking about appointments with their facialist, podiatrist, personal trainer, stylist, dietitian, hairdresser and teams from the big fashion houses like Valentino or Dior,” says one well-known Hollywood stylist.

“Hell, darling. That is what is going on in Hollywood right now,” says stylist Cheryl Konteh, who has dressed a number of A-list stars, including Kate Winslet, for awards ceremonies. “Those poor actresses will have been on a diet-and-exercise regime since nomination day, all with the aim of looking perfect in their chosen dress. They have to look their healthiest possible. There is no way around it. Skin has to glow, legs and body must be toned.”

Julianne Moore has said that as soon as she learned she had been nominated for a Golden Globe, she had to start “training” fast. “It’s so unfair. The Golden Globes fall just thirteen days after the end of the Christmas holidays. Realistically, you only stop eating and drinking too much on 1 January, and I was certainly no exception,” Moore told the Sunday Times. “I did  this juice thing. I’ve never done one before, but I was desperate.”

A small army of plastic surgeons, facialists, personal trainers and cosmetologists, such as New York-based Tracie Martyn, whose signature treatment is called The Red Carpet Facial, will decamp to LA for the Oscars.

A popular surgical treatment actors resort to before the red carpet is last-minute liposuction on “problematic” areas of fat, such as the area just under the shoulder blade which may bulge over the top of a strapless dress. Underarm botox is another extreme-sounding but common trick used to prevent sweating on the night.

Underpinning all this is the sense that there is something more at stake than winning the “best-dressed Oscar star” accolade in a magazine or blog. These preparations often come down to money. “If an actor has a good Oscars red carpet moment, it paves the way or lucrative advertising campaigns,” says The Guardian’s beauty columnist Sali Hughes.

And then, of course, they must act like it’s all such effortless fun. “They may try to make out otherwise, but most actors will have chosen their dress over a month ago at the couture shows,” says Konteh. “When you are working with a fashion house you just have to commit, you can’t mess the designers around. Often it’s about a working relationship. With a day to go before the Oscars, I would have worked out hair, make-up and jewellery. I would also have a Plan B outfit lined up, plus a possible change of clothes for a post-Oscar event, such as the parties held by Vanity Fair or Elton John.”

In a moment of refreshing honesty, Jennifer Lawrence, who won the Oscar for best actress for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, summed up her experience of the red carpet as “torture”. “I know that’s a cliche,” she told Vanity Fair, “but it’s uncomfortable having to pose when people are shouting at you and the next day you just get slaughter. You walk out there and go: “Hate me!” 

Published in The Guardian on February 22, 2013. Reprinted with permission. 

468 march 2024 ITA

Questo articolo appartiene al numero march 2024 della rivista Speak Up.

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