Pret-a-Reporter

Hollywood's Top 25 Red-Carpet Designers Revealed

12:59 PM 9/16/2014

by THR Staff

In THR's inaugural designer A-list issue, the top tastemakers and their famous muses — from Giorgio Armani and Kate Hudson to Prabal Gurung and Sarah Jessica Parker — open up about what it takes to build a billion-dollar brand

AP Photo/Christophe Ena
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  • Alexander Mcqueen

    Sarah Burton

    AP Images

    Big number
    337: number of Alexander McQueen stores, including directly operated boutiques and department and specialty stores in more than 50 countries around the world.

    Has dressed
    Since taking the reins in May 2010 following Alexander McQueen's death, creative director Burton, 40, has ensured that Hollywood's fashion iconoclasts clamor to wear the U.K. brand's whimsical, edgy and regal designs on the red carpet. (During her tenure, Burton has "quadrupled her company's fortunes," reported The New York Times in August.) Jessica Chastain wore an embroidered gold and black gown, which she described as "a dream come true," to the 2012 Oscars, and Sandra Bullock wowed in a midnight-blue strapless McQueen at the 2014 Oscars.

    Biggest red-carpet moment
    Burton's wedding dress for Kate Middleton's 2011 nuptials to Prince William proved that whether on the red carpet or on the wedding aisle, a gown can be traditional, modern and feminine at the same time.

    Typical day
    A self-professed "workaholic" who is "not cool," Burton -- a mother to twin girls and married to fashion photographer David Burton -- has said that her daily life includes walks in her North London neighborhood and pub lunches.

     

  • Calvin Klein

    Francisco Costa

    AP Images

    Big number 
    $7.8 billion: sales of Calvin Klein brands in 2013.

    Musing about muses 
    Kate Bosworth
    Kerry Washington and Zoe Saldana "are such a diverse group of women who are all strong and beautiful in a very unique way," creative director Costa tells THR. "I am inspired by their ability to transform themselves for their roles while also maintaining their individual beauty and personalities."

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "Designing a dress for the red carpet is a different exercise than designing a collection for the runway," says the 50-year-old Brazil-born designer, who started out working under Oscar de la Renta. "When we wardrobe a woman for an event, we are dressing her for one spectacular moment. My job is to frame her properly, so I must consider their personal style and personality. The clothes come alive when all of that comes together."

    Favorite red-carpet moment 
    "Dressing Lupita Nyong'o for this year's Critics' Choice Awards was major for me," says Costa. "She always looks elegant, so I tried to create a look that would be modern and sophisticated while also cutting-edge." The business of the red carpet "Celebrity dressing is intense and the visibility is incredible," admits Costa. "A dress that is featured on the right woman on the red carpet is often requested by consumers in stores."

     

  • Chanel

    Karl Lagerfeld

    AP Images

    Big number
    $7 billion: reported revenues in 2013.

    Has dressed 
    Chanel was seen approximately 117 times on Hollywood's red carpets this year (from Emmys 2013 to 2014). The French brand has been the red-carpet choice of celebrities who favor its feminine, often frothy designs -- from Diane Kruger, the face of Chanel skin care, to Keira Knightley, who fronts ads for the Coco Mademoiselle fragrance. Blake LivelyJulianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz all wear the brand (particularly its iconic quilted bags) both on and off the carpet. Memorable moments include Kristen Stewart, the face of the brand's Paris-Dallas Metiers d'Art Collection, in a black and gold sequin, tulle and feather couture dress at the 2014 Met Gala. But Lagerfeld, 81, who has been creative director of Chanel since 1983, is characteristically droll about the current state of the red carpet: "Now, everyone is bought … Most of them have contracts [to wear the clothes]."

    Biggest red-carpet moment 
    At the 2006 Oscars, Nicole Kidman wore a slate gray, strapless couture gown with embroidery that reportedly took the Chanel team 400 hours to complete.

  • Christian Dior

    Raf Simons

    AP Images

    Big number 
    $34 billion: value of Christian Dior SA as of May 2014.

    Has dressed 
    With his understated aesthetic and a nod to the ladylike look of the house of Dior, Simons, 46, has elevated red-carpet elegance. Jennifer Lawrence, Marion Cotillard and Charlize Theron, all faces of Dior, have worn the brand to multiple award shows. Lawrence accepted her 2013 best-actress Oscar wearing a pale pink Dior ball gown. Lupita Nyong'oEmma WatsonNatalie Portman and Julianne Moore also are fans.

    Musings about muses 
    Paris-based Simons looks to Lawrence, who fronts the Miss Dior handbag campaign: "Like everyone else, I discovered Jennifer Lawrence in the roles she played in action movies," he has said. "Her youth and classic beauty, but also her force of character and complexity at such a young age, are, for me, very moving." She, in turn, consults Simons on what she should wear to an event. At the 2013 Met Gala, when asked how she decided on her black, A-line dress, Lawrence broke it down: "We went out to lunch, and he told me I should wear this one, and then I said 'OK,' and then I wore it."

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "I want to convince women that couture can be worn in the day and that there's a reality and relevance there," Simons has said. Femininity and ease (he incorporates pockets into most gowns and skirts) are paramount.

     

  • Dolce & Gabbana

    Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana

    AP Images

    Big number
    251: monobrand stores in 40 countries worldwide.

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "All the designers are competing with each other to create unique pieces," Dolce, 56, tells THR. "The Dolce & Gabbana style is very specific. You can tell immediately if a dress is Dolce & Gabbana," he says of the brand that launched in 1985 and shows in Milan. Adds Gabbana, 51: "We understand that when you stand in front of 100 photographers, you want to look your best. A beautiful dress remains [just] a beautiful dress if not worn by the right person."

    Biggest red-carpet moment 
    Matthew McConaughey at the 2014 Oscars, says Dolce. Gabbana cites Madonna, who wore one of the brand's corsets at the New York premiere of Truth or Dare in 1991: "It was a surprise even for us, but it was the beginning of many beautiful things."

    The business of the red carpet 
    Gabbana says that red-carpet dresses are client requests: "They are special. There are only a bunch of people who could possibly have the occasion to wear them." Dolce adds: "Therefore we can't really say that red-carpet dressing influences business, but that it is a great way to reach a very large audience and to communicate the soul of our brand."

  • Donna Karan

    Donna Karan

    AP Images

    Big number 
    $650 million: amount LVMH paid for Donna Karan International in 2001.

    Musing about muses 
    "For the past 30 years, I've had the privilege of dressing some of the most amazing women in the world, from Hillary Clinton in the black cutout-shoulder dress to Demi Moore in devore velvet," says Karan, 65, who began her career at Anne Klein in the 1960s. "But probably the most memorable for me is dressing Barbra Streisand for the Oscars and her many concerts. No one makes an entrance like Barbra." (Streisand prepped for her Sept. 15 Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon appearance at the designer's East Hampton, N.Y., home.) Karan had about 30 red-carpet moments this year, including Sofia Vergara in shimmery silver Donna Karan Atelier at the SAG Awards.

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "Nothing is more glamorous than the contour of a woman's body," Karan tells THR. "Every design detail is custom to the woman -- the color, the fabric, the fit, the drape."

    Favorite red-carpet moment 
    "Lizzy Caplan was a vision in black and white at the Emmys. She was the perfect combination of modernity and grace."

    The business of the red carpet 
    "Donna Karan Atelier is designed and created for the red carpet," says the designer. "The collection is not sold at market or shown on the runway. After a gown is worn by a celebrity, we might produce one in the world for a very special client."

  • Elie Saab

    Elie Saab

    AP Images

    Big number 
    18: the age at which Saab opened his first couture atelier in Beirut in 1982.

    Musings about muse Berenice Bejo 
    "Berenice is so feminine, so fragile. She represents the woman I have in mind," the 50-year-old designer tells THR. The actress, who wore a seafoam, long-sleeved Saab gown to the 2012 Oscars as a supporting-actress nominee, chimes in: "Sometimes you wear a dress and lose the actor. I feel pretty [when I wear Saab], but I feel like it's my own."

    Favorite red-carpet moment 
    The Lebanese designer cites the floral-embroidered mesh top and russet silk skirted ball gown that Halle Berry wore to the 2002 Oscars: "It was not forced. It was just a magical moment between us and her stylist at the time, Philip Bloch. She loved the dress, she wore it, she kept it. On the red carpet, it was the biggest moment for us."

    The business of the red carpet 
    "I don't believe only the stars on the red carpet influence [business]," the designer tells THR. "The image of the house has been built on creating beautiful moments for women all around the world: princesses and queens, iconic people in business. The only difference between a princess and the red carpet is that the stars give a lot of popularity for the house because it's present everywhere, on every channel, every magazine. Media-wise, it's very important."

  • Giambattista Valli

    Giambattista Valli

    AP Images

    Big number
    245: number of retail sites in 41 countries.

    Has dressed 
    The label saw about 45 red-carpet appearances this year, including Jennifer Connelly in a semi-transparent leaf-motif dress at the Noah premiere in Madrid, Spain, and Penelope Cruz in a Grecian pink one-shouldered gown at the 2014 Oscars. Allison Williams wore a white ball gown with a chartreuse belt at the Emmys that made many best-dressed lists. Her Girls co-star Lena Dunham also donned a Valli dress (to a less-desirable effect).

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "The hardest thing in fashion is not to be known for a logo, but for a silhouette," Valli, 48, has said. His often fitted and draped silhouettes have gained plenty of traction with Charlize Theron and Jessica Biel, whose pink, frothy wedding dress he designed for her 2012 nuptials to Justin Timberlake.

    Favorite muse 
    Diane Kruger is a likely contender, as she wears Valli's gowns repeatedly, with the most notable appearance at Cannes in 2012, when she donned a one-shoulder, mint green dress that the actress considers her favorite. "Hands down -- it was flowy and light as air, and I felt very regal in it," Kruger tells THR. "Giambattista loves women and their shape. His clothes are romantic, and I like that he pushes the envelope with shapes and fabric."

  • Giorgio Armani

    Giorgio Armani

    AP Images

    Big number
    $2.8 billion: revenues in 2013, a record for the brand.

    Has dressed 
    Tom Cruise sported three different Giorgio Armani suits for three red carpets in one day to promote Edge of Tomorrow in London, Paris and New York. Sophia Loren wore a champagne lace gown at this year's Cannes, Leonardo DiCaprio donned a midnight blue two-button tuxedo for the Oscars, and Katy Perry shined in a blue iridescent Armani gown at a 2014 post-Grammys party.

    Musings about muse Kate Hudson 
    "Kate has a great radiance about her," says the 80- year-old designer, who lives in Milan, where he has been holding fashion shows for almost 39 years. "Her beauty is natural, effortless and striking. Her fashion sense is classy, but she's always ready to be a bit of a daredevil. I embrace that spirit."

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "My vision has always been to design gowns that illustrate a modern elegance, but to allow the star to shine foremost," Armani tells THR. "A gown is perfect when it's memorable and timeless."

    Favorite red-carpet moment 
    "For this year, it would have to be Cate Blanchett at the Golden Globes, the Oscars and Cannes," says the designer. "My favorite moment of all time, I would have to say, is 1990, when I first launched into Oscar dressing. It was called the 'Armani Awards' instead of the Academy Awards, as I dressed Jodie FosterJulia RobertsDenzel WashingtonLauren Hutton and a young Tom Cruise. The modern red carpet, at that moment, was an idea in bloom."

    The business of the red carpet 
    "Since I started working, the system has changed a lot, and today there is a true industry that revolves around celebrities and the way they dress," Armani says. "The red carpet is an excellent media sounding board."

  • Givenchy

    Riccardo Tisci

    AP Images

    Big number
    $260.2 million: revenues posted in 2013.

    Musings about muses 
    The 40-year-old creative director names Frida KahloMarlene Dietrich, Josephine Baker, Jessica Rabbit, Bettie Page and Marilyn Monroe. "We do work that feeds our minds with creative thoughts and inspirational images," Tisci tells THR. "I love the extreme, I'm not scared of opposites, so I find inspiration from all my friends -- from singers to actresses, from performance artists to club kids."

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "The artist I am designing for" sets the tone, says the Paris-based designer, who collaborated with Jay Z and Kanye West on their 2011 Watch the Throne CD cover. "They are all people with a message, artists who express themselves. And they often use fashion to do so. When I work with someone, I let them try to change me and I don't try to change them. That is why we become so close."

    The business of the red carpet 
    "We don't dress someone at a ceremony to sell more bags. We dress them because we love them, and only for that reason," says Tisci. "Those women are our friends. It is only natural that we always dress them whenever they need us to."

  • Gucci

    Frida Giannini

    AP Images

    Big number
    $12.1 billion: value of the brand as of November 2013.

    Musings about muses 
    "It is hard to pinpoint one muse because to me, inspiration comes from feeling and attitude," says Giannini, 42, creative director since 2005. "The Gucci man and woman are strong and secure, but sensual and refined."

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "Gucci Premiere Haute Couture and men's Made to Measure collections are about fit," Giannini tells THR. "Even the smallest alteration, when made to a particular person's silhouette, can make the difference. When designing for a woman, my first consideration is creating something that elicits and bolsters her own confidence. I also consider the occasion: Dressing for the Oscars red carpet is different from a premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. An impeccably tailored gown or tuxedo, paired with genuine poise, which gives a nod to the particular setting, makes for a memorable red-carpet moment."

    Favorite red-carpet moment 
    "I loved working with Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds for the Met Gala this year," says Giannini, who has a young daughter, Greta, with Gucci CEO Patrizio di Marco. "It is rare to have the opportunity to dress a married couple who love each other as they do, and it created a truly magical Gucci moment on the red carpet."

    The business of the red carpet 
    "Gucci's own 90-year history is intertwined with Hollywood and cinema, so dressing for the red carpet is natural," says the designer who shows in Milan. "Of course, the consequent media echo can also be very powerful."

  • Jenny Packham

    Jenny Packham

    AP Images

    Big number
    12. The number of times Kate Middleton has donned a Packham design. The effect on her business? Who can put a price on 'The Duchess Effect'? 

    Has dressed 
    Elizabeth Banks, Kate Winslet and Anna Gunn.

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "My ambition is to design a dress that creates confidence, is slightly unpredictable and unforgettable," says the 49-year-old British designer, who launched her line in 1988 with bridal and eveningwear. Packham still runs the business with her partner and CEO, Matthew Anderson (they have two daughters together as well).

    Favorite red-carpet moment "I have loved dressing Kate Winslet and Julie Delpy in the last year. Dressing Adele for the Oscars [in 2013] was also an honor," says Packham. Winslet most recently donned Packham's strapless black column for the London Divergent premiere. Adds Packham: "My all-time favorite? Angelina Jolie in red chiffon [at 2011's Tree of Life premiere]."

    The business of the red carpet 
    "Our clientele follows celebrities, and all want their own 'red-carpet moments,' " she says.

  • J. Mendel

    Gilles Mendel

    AP Images

    Big number 
    $6,800: cost of the J. Mendel jacket Michelle Obama wore to Buckingham Palace in 2012, causing an uproar.

    Musings about muse Kate Mara 
    "In addition to her natural beauty, Kate has real modernity in her style," Mendel tells THR. "She likes to be daring, which is good because it helps me to push the boundaries." Mara, who calls the white gown she wore to the 2013 Emmys her "absolute favorite," responds: "What attracted me to his dresses is the balance between the ethereal, womanly feel and the structure. It looks amazing on any woman's body."

    Favorite red-carpet moment 
    "When Kate wore the gray hammered satin gown at this year's Golden Globes," says Mendel, a fifth-generation creative director of his family's business, which was founded in 1870 in St. Petersburg as a luxe furrier to Russian aristocrats. He adds: "From a commercial perspective, the most significant red-carpet moment from the past year must be the two-piece gown I designed for Taylor Swift for the ACMs. It generated so much demand that we had to move production up by a season."

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "It is about enhancing the natural beauty of the actress," says the designer. "It is also about strengthening her sense of style -- it is important to make her feel very secure under the hot glare of all of the cameras."

    The business of the red carpet 
    "Red-carpet dressing really helped create worldwide brand awareness on a scale that print advertising campaigns alone cannot," explains Mendel. "It has become an almost essential part of the industry. For J. Mendel, the red carpet played a big part in the evolution of the brand. We were no longer known purely as a luxury fur house, but as creators of beautiful evening gowns and ready-to-wear."

  • Lanvin

    Alber Elbaz

    AP Images

    Big number
    70: Number of red-carpet hits this past year.

    Musings about muses 
    "I love talent," exclaims the Moroccan-born, Paris-based Elbaz to THR. "I'm obsessed with talented people. Emma Stone, I adore. Meryl Streep? So much respect that I have for her as a professional and a person -- and just beautiful. Julianne Moore, love -- as smart as she is beautiful. Tilda Swinton -- the most extreme individualist. She is so fashion, but she is so her. She's not faking anything. Pharrell is the most beautiful person, inside and out. If you're good and talented, it's really not about the dress you wear. But then designers are often judged by whom they dress these days."

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "Sometimes it's easier to create a whole collection than one red-carpet dress," confesses Elbaz, 53, artistic director since 2001, following a stint at Yves Saint Laurent. "With collections, I know what I like. But for red carpet, I get one instruction -- and sometimes the feeling I have is the opposite of the instruction. We have to go through so many people when time is short. Then I go upstairs and work with three seamstresses who are above 60 years old and have to stay the whole night to put the dress together. There is nothing more sensual than a soft bias-cut dress, but it doesn't always photograph well. So what is most important -- a cardboard dress for a photo? After eight hours in a corset and high heels, your husband might leave you. You turn into such a bitch!"

    Favorite red-carpet moment 
    Meryl Streep in a gold Lanvin gown at the Oscars -- "but of course, it doesn't matter what she wears because she's her!" says Elbaz. "This is how I feel about the red carpet: It doesn't matter. People do. I would like it if actresses could eat more. That's why my fall collection is so drapey."

    The business of the red carpet 
    "It started as a fun event, and today it's all business," says Elbaz. "It puts so much pressure on everybody. I see it on E! -- fashion has become a factory. We need to go back and become the factory of dreams again."

  • Louis Vuitton

    Nicolas Ghesquiere

    AP Images

    Big number 
    $28.4 billion: brand value as of November 2013.

    Has dressed 
    Ghesquiere, 43, has been the artistic director of women's collections at Vuitton only since spring, but he brings with him the loyal fans and fashion buzz garnered during his 16 years as head designer at Balenciaga. Since Ghesquiere's arrival, Louis Vuitton has been strategic about who wears his designs. His muse, actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg, has worn them on the red carpet and stars in the brand's fall ads. Kristen Stewart was a muse of Ghesquiere while he was at Balenciaga, and has said of the designer: "He's really one of the only guys I've ever met in [fashion] that makes me feel like I'm working for a director. He's creatively impulsive … If I have to walk red carpets … then I want to be with him."

    Big red-carpet moment 
    Of the custom-made leather and tweed dress worn by Jennifer Connelly at the New York City premiere of Noah, Ghesquiere has said, "Jennifer continues to inspire me with her commitment to daring roles; strong yet delicate at the same time … I was happy to create this look for her."

  • Michael Kors

    Michael Kors

    AP Images

    Big number 
    $3.3 billion: revenues in 2013, a 51.8 percent increase following 101 store openings. In April 2014, Kors himself officially became a billionaire.

    Musings about muses
     "Angelina Jolie, Mrs. Obama, Gwyneth Paltrow, Blake Lively and Jennifer Lopez," says the 55-year-old American designer, who has served as a Project Runway judge for 10 seasons.

    Favorite red-carpet moment 
    "In the past year, I've loved Sofia Coppola in our studded indigo dress, Kate Hudson in a black strapless cutout gown and Naomi Watts. Of all time? I'd have to say Gwyneth Paltrow at the 2010 CFDA Awards [in a black mermaid gown] -- a professional and personal milestone for me. I also loved Angelina Jolie in our black leather strapless dress at the Inglorious Basterds premiere, and J.Lo at the Met in our sequin animal-print gown," says Kors, whose husband, Lance LePere, is vp women's design.

    The business of the red carpet 
    "When it's the right dress on the right woman at the right event, it's fashion Valhalla," says the New York-based designer. "If it's just the idea of pushing a dress onto an actress, that's when it becomes business."

  • Monique Lhuillier

    Monique Lhuillier

    AP Images

    Big number 
    $20 million: revenue for the bridal business alone.

    Musings about muse Emmy Rossum 
    "Emmy is a fashion girl; it's effortless. She doesn't work with a stylist, and it's a direct interaction," says the 43-year-old L.A.-based designer. Jokes Rossum: "She calls it an interaction. I call it stalking." The actress says the "beautiful nude-colored dress with beading" that she wore to the Vanity Fair Oscar party this year is her favorite. The designer, who launched in 1996 with a bridal line (Reese Witherspoon, Britney Spears and Pink have worn her wedding designs), loves the actress' style: "It's not classically beautiful. There's a twist. It's believable; you know these looks exist in her closet." Says Rossum: "They do, actually; I steal them."

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "To create clothing that makes women feel empowered," says Lhuillier, who is married to her CEO, Tom Bugbee.

    Favorite red-carpet moment 
    In addition to Rossum, "Taylor Swift in one of my favorite Resort gowns for The Giver premiere was very special," she says of the red-top, champagne-skirt gown. Lhuillier also mentions Kristen Stewart in a strapless midnight blue silk satin organza gown at the 2010 Oscars and Ginnifer Goodwin in a tangerine high-low gown at the 2012 Emmys.

    The business of the red carpet 
    "It used to be as simple as a celebrity selecting a dress from a showroom," Lhuillier says. "Now they have teams of people telling them what to do. Furthermore, celebrities are locked into annual contracts with designers for a hefty price. With the overwhelming impact of social media, red-carpet dressing has changed fashion by making fans engaged in the business. As a company owner, this is something you cannot ignore."

  • Oscar de la Renta

    Oscar de la Renta

    AP Images

    Big number 
    $100 million: company value, 2012 estimate.

    Has dressed 
    There have been 54 red-carpet appearances in the past year of the famously feminine gowns of de la Renta, who also has dressed royalty and first ladies, including Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush for their inaugural events in 1997 and 2005, respectively. Standouts include Freida Pinto in a coral gown at The Homesman premiere at Cannes and Amy Adams in a strapless silver gown at the Met Gala as well as the frothy ball gown she wore to the 2013 Oscars. Sarah Jessica Parker, who co-hosted this year's Met Gala with de la Renta, wore a black-and-white gown emblazoned with the designer's name. The scarlet signature was something Parker suggested: "I said to Mr. de la Renta, 'Please let me use scarlet thread and splash your name across the back.' It was my idea. He would never in a million years have done it. He's far too modest."

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "My role as a designer is to make a woman feel her best," says de la Renta, 82, who worked on Balenciaga and Balmain before launching his eponymous label in 1965.

    Biggest red-carpet moment 
    For Adams' 2013 Oscar look, the designer and actress collaborated to create a pale silver-gray gown that put the actress on best-dressed lists everywhere. Adams brought de la Renta references of what she was envisioning; he was inspired by a vintage picture of a model walking through a doorway. The actress' stylist at the time, Cristina Ehrlich, has described the moment when de la Renta saw the old photo as a "real aha moment."

  • Prabal Gurung

    Prabal Gurung

    AP Images

    Big number
    25: his major red-carpet moments this year, including January Jones' crimson high-low hemline gown at the Emmys.

    Musings about his muse (and SJP) 
    "My muse, aside from being a beautifully elegant and refined woman, is also astute, assertive and substantive. She is intelligent, has several meaningful and impactful interests, displays grace under pressure and is curious about the world around her. She is as alluring in what she conceals as in what she reveals. I can't think of someone that this applies to more than Sarah Jessica," says the 35-year-old, who interned for Donna Karan before debuting his New York-based label in 2009. Parker tells THR about Gurung: "I have some very nice memories in his clothes. There was a laser-cut leather dress that I wore for Fashion's Night Out three years ago that I just loved. And he collaborated with Olivier [Theyskens] last year for the New York City Ballet's Fall Gala. Prabal did the bustier top and Olivier did the skirt. It was so lovely you can't even imagine."

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "My main priority is always to make the woman wearing my designs feel entirely self-assured," says Gurung. "Comfort is also crucial -- it breeds confidence."

    Favorite red-carpet moment 
    "The red-draped blouse and hot pink wool pants Sarah Jessica wore was a highlight -- she wore it to Late Show With David Letterman," says Gurung. "So few people can pull off bold colors. Sarah Jessica really made the pieces come alive." Gurung also counts dressing Michelle Obama in his off-the-shoulder red dress at the 2010 White House Correspondents' Dinner as having "changed my position as a designer. To see the first lady wearing one of my dresses was a dream come true. Michelle Obama is a woman who stands for such integrity and strength -- it's a huge honor to dress her."

    The business of the red carpet 
    "More than anything, aspiration is integral to the success of a luxury brand," says the designer. "This is something the red carpet plays a big part in."

  • Prada

    Miuccia Prada

    AP Images

    Big number
    $20.87 billion: company value as of May, including Miu Miu and other subsidiary brands.

    Has dressed 
    There was that very memorable lavender gown that Uma Thurman wore to the 1995 Oscars, putting Prada on the red-carpet radar. Most recently, the "Nairobi blue" Grecian-inspired gown worn by Lupita Nyong'o at the 2014 Oscars could not have made the brand any more red-carpet relevant. Other Hollywood fans include Nicole KidmanGwyneth Paltrow and Carey Mulligan, who donned a dress decorated with tiny hardware to the 2010 Academy Awards. "The only time I've ever been to the Oscars, I wore this Prada dress covered in cooking utensils," Mulligan has recounted. "I got drunk at the end of the night and started ripping them off and giving them as presents to people, so that was fun. I'm pretty sure that's how Miuccia meant for it to go."

    Rules for the red carpet 
    Prada caters to the more intellectual, eclectic side of fashion. Cases in point: The jeweled midriff top and black skirt created for a pregnant Kerry Washington at the 2014 SAGs and the art deco, Great Gatsby-inspired (Prada designed the costumes for Baz Luhrmann's 2013 film) gowns created for Mulligan around the release of the movie.

  • Ralph Lauren

    Ralph Lauren

    AP Images

    Big number 
    $14.67 billion: company value as of May from 433 directly operated freestanding stores, 503 concession-based shop-in-shops, eight e-commerce websites and a highly buzzed-about restaurant appropriately called Ralph's on Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris.

    Has dressed 
    Lauren's red-carpet moments have been some of the most memorable in recent history, starting with the pink gown that gave Gwyneth Paltrow a modern Grace Kelly patina as she accepted her 1999 best actress Oscar. Penelope CruzJohnny DeppDiane KeatonOprah WinfreyBlake LivelyTaylor Swift and Madonna also have worn the label for significant red-carpet events. Most recently, it was the dramatic crimson dress with a sleek cape silhouette worn by Lupita Nyong'o to the Golden Globes that crowned her as a red-carpet revelation. Also, the backless ivory jumpsuit donned by Robin Wright at the 2014 Emmy Awards struck a stark silhouette and proved his vast range in red-carpet dressing.

    Personal red-carpet icons 
    Lauren, 74, always has loved Hollywood for the aspirational lives and wardrobes of its leading women and men. "I love Cary Grant because I like the roles he played. I said, 'I want to be that guy,' " the designer has said.

  • Roland Mouret

    Roland Mouret

    AP Images

    Big number 
    46: number of red-carpet appearances this year.

    Has dressed 
    The British-based Parisian designer, 53, is best known for his flawlessly fitted, curve-hugging Galaxy and Moon dresses nearly every A-lister has worn on the red carpet including Scarlett JohanssonAmber Heard and Amy Adams.

    Rules for the red carpet 
    "An actress needs to express her strength," says Mouret. "I hope that my designs help her succeed in communicating her identity."

    Favorite red-carpet moment 
    "Nothing will ever top the feeling of your first red-carpet moment," says the designer. "It was with Scarlett Johansson, and she wore a peachy-colored gown with an essence of Marilyn Monroe to the Golden Globes some 10 years ago."

  • Valentino

    Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli

    AP Images

    Big number 
    24 percent: amount revenues increased to $669  million from 2012 to 2013.

    Has dressed 
    The dynamic 
duo has outfitted Amy Adams for the 2014 Globes, Julia Roberts for the 2014 SAGs and 
Cate Blanchett for Cannes. But they are reluctant to name one favorite: "We don’t have one red carpet muse," Chiuri and Piccioli tells THR.  "We love women with their own beauty which is not necessarily about physical attributes, it is something more special which you perceive that makes a woman beautiful and unique."

    Favorite red-carpet moments
    "There are many magnificent women and moments to remember, " they say. "Kiera Knightley at the Venice Film Festival wearing a gold lace dress, saying, 'I feel like a princess' — when she arrived on the Red carpet she looked so regal and dreamy. Emma Stone at the last Venice Film Festival wearing the dark forest tulle haute couture gown, who looked like a master painting from a different era. The color of her skin and red hair in contrast with the dress was spectacular. She was the essence of modern grace."

     Rules for the red carpet 
    "For us, it’s quite important to understand and evaluate what makes a woman individual," say the designers. "We want her to feel beautiful wearing something which she might dream about rather then just appear beautiful in something she would never wear in real life. You remember more a red carpet moment because of the inner light and the grace a woman radiates in that moment."

  • Versace

    Donatella Versace

    AP Images

    Big number 
    9: the number of design collaborators involved in creating Angelina Jolie's Atelier Versace wedding dress, including the six Jolie-Brad Pitt kids who contributed artwork, Jolie herself, tailor Lugi Massi and, no doubt, Donatella.

    Musings about muses 
    The 59-year-old chief designer tells THR that her muses are "Hollywood icons of the 1930s, the late Princess Diana, Angelina JolieJennifer LopezLady GagaBeyonce -- and, of course, myself!"

    Rules for the red carpet "Most people expect me to say it's all about sexy. Sexy is about a great cut and fabric," she says, adding that ultimately, "the red carpet is there to heighten an actress' image."

    Biggest red-carpet moment Jolie's wedding gown.

    The business of the red carpet "We don't depend on red carpets making sales, anyway -- that's impossible to quantify," says Versace. "But it does affect marketing and image-making."

  • Vivienne Westwood

    Vivienne Westwood

    AP Images

    Big number 
    $48.9 million: annual group sales as of September 2013.

    Has dressed 
    The godmother of punk (she designed clothes for Malcolm McLaren's London boutique SEX in the '70s) has dressed Amy AdamsScarlett JohanssonElle Fanning and Jessica Alba in jewel-toned, figure-hugging dresses. But the 73-year-old designer perhaps is best known for amping the sex appeal of such curvy talent as Christina Hendricks and Dita Von Teese. Says Hendricks to THR: "I've worn Vivienne on so many of my premiere evenings. They always sort of become my most special nights. They're dream dresses where my husband goes, 'Wow!' "

    Musings about muse Christina Hendricks 
    "The skin, the smile, the spirit, the body, the hair, the color. Everything," says Westwood, who has known Hendricks since she was the face of her Palladium jewelry collection three years ago. "To look at, she's very special. She's like a rose in full bloom. She's absolutely gorgeous." Of the designer, who is married to Andreas Kronthaler, 48, also her creative director, Hendricks says: "I've been a fan for so long, and I'm constantly amazed at the masterful technician that she is -- but always acknowledging history and always one step ahead of everyone else at the same time. And she's a bit of a provocateur, which I admire."

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