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Top 25 Red Carpet Designers 2015

The Hollywood Reporter
by Carol McColgin, Merle Ginsberg, and Jane Carlson

Those dresses you saw at the Emmys didn't just happen. They began in the imagination of these talents, who use Hollywood stars as both muse and marketing, as the billion-dollar players talk shop on the eve of awards-season domination. Says Tom Ford: "It's about dressing the right person in the right dress to create a truly memorable moment."

"People say I no longer do couture," Givenchy creative director Riccardo Tisci tells THR. "I still do couture, but in a different way: Everyone sees it when Jessica Chastain, Madonna or Julianne Moore wears it on the red carpet."

Demand for gowns at awards shows like the Emmys and Oscars and film festivals like Toronto and Cannes is de facto replacing couture custom eveningwear once only shown to Old World society clients and Hollywood and fashion houses are more intertwined than ever before. "The real couture today is not to the measurement; it's to who you are," says Lanvin's Alber Elbaz, who dresses Emma Stone and Meryl Streep. "This is what you see best on red carpets."

As fashion recognizes the power of dressing A-listers (after all, says Zac Posen, who dressed six actresses for the Emmys, "Retailers usually demand that a style that walked the carpet be part of future collections as a result of an increase in demand"), powerhouse agencies vie to own pieces of the fashion sphere, with WME-IMG adding glam-squad agency Wall Group to a portfolio that already includes New York Fashion Week.

After NYFW wrapped Sept. 17 in its new WME-selected downtown locations, revenue brought in $850 million to New York City's economy, with A-listers Naomi Watts, Julia Roberts, Nicki Minaj, Lupita Nyong'o, Amy Schumer, Lorde, Katy Perry, Sofia Coppola, Pedro Almodovar and Lady Gaga (whose stylist Brandon Maxwell launched his own collection, which she promptly wore to the Emmys) attend­ing. It was like the Oscars, the Grammys and damn good clothes all rolled into one.

Zac Posen

Zac Posen

Big number: 950,000: followers of the brand's Instagram feed.

Has dressed in 2015: Viola Davis, Katie Holmes, Dakota Fanning, Naomi Watts, Michelle Obama

Musings about muse Katie Holmes: "When I first saw Katie and her rapport on a red carpet, I saw that magic," says the designer, 34. "Some people are just born with star quality she comes alive on the red carpet and you can feel this."

Rule for the red carpet: "Color always works, but above all is how it all fits on the celebrity on the carpet you see the garment at 360 degrees," says Posen, who dressed six women at the Emmys, including variety sketch winner Amy Schumer. "When building the dress, it starts with draping fabric, having in mind the woman whom you are designing for. The shape gets reworked in my atelier, and from there, it's about details: placement of seams, stitches and body architecture. It's a true collaboration with the celebrity."

Favorite red-carpet moment in 2015: "I loved going to the Met Ball with Katie [wearing] my deep blue gown, and I love the pleated pink dress she wore to the premiere of The Giver," says the designer, who lives in SoHo with stylist Christopher Niquet and their three dogs.

Next up: Delta Air Lines commissioned Posen to redesign the uniforms for 60,000 flight attendants, agents and crew. And, for two years, Posen has been quietly managed by Untitled's Jason Weinberg, who reps Watts and Holmes, which may imply that the designer is being primed for television and film.