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At a time when news is fake and Instagram and Snapchat feeds are filtered, Hollywood and fashion fans are rewarding what they see as authentic choices. From Evan Rachel Wood pointedly wearing pantsuits on awards-season red carpets (resulting in skyrocketing sales for Altuzarra) to Emma Watson sporting a lauded Elie Saab eco-gown made of couture scraps during her Beauty and the Beast press tour, "real" is in. Political statement pins, from ACLU ribbons to GLAAD lapel ampersands, have proven as effective in stirring social media frenzy as a stunning gown. "Especially right now, so much of what you see is fabricated moments," says Joseph Altuzarra, one of THR's top 20 red carpet designers. "People can smell the contracted dealmaking behind some of the pieces. They can tell when something is an expression of who someone really is."
On social media, what brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior have "in common is that you have this sense of being there with someone, and the walls have come down," Eva Chen, Instagram's head of fashion partnerships, has said. Case in point: Reese Witherspoon eating pizza with her kids, hashtagged #AwardsShowFuel, before promoting Big Little Lies this Emmy season.
Of course, for the 20 multimillion- and billion-dollar brands on THR's fourth annual list, glamour still reigns on fashion's most effective platform, the red carpet — note Nicole Kidman's scarlet Calvin Klein with dazzling crystal tie at the Emmys. A-list icons are ever in demand as the financial return on carpet placement is high: "People want a little piece of what these women have to offer, so yes, it's 100 percent good for business," says jewelry designer Jennifer Meyer, marking her first appearance on THR's list. All designers who made the cut, listed here in alphabetical order, were selected based on prevalence of red carpet hits during the Oscar and Emmy seasons, magnitude of star power they attract and strong social media presence. The fantasy and escapism they create on the most anticipated carpets are perhaps more welcome than ever in Hollywood and beyond.
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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