Hold onto your silver fringed, mechanical hats, because this award season, theatrical and brilliantly extra accessories have taken over red carpet style.
At the Grammys there was a general ditching of the demure for the definitely fun: Billy Porter’s Sarah Sokol mechanical fringed hat which gave us material for a thousand hilarious memes, the statement manicures of Rosalía, Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish and Tyler the Creator’s hilariously cumbersome luggage case to compliment his pink Golf le Fleur bellhop outfit.
A great accessory is a subtle and edgy way to elbow in individual creativity into a sometimes stuffy institution. “I think there is a lot of pressure at the big shows not to take risks for fear of receiving harsh criticism,” says Jana Matheson, the chief creative officer at accessories designer Judith Leiber, whose designs have been seen at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. “On the flip side, because some have been going so safe, it’s been so much more fun to watch the fashion at the parties and the smaller events.”
The best accessories feel like timely commentary, zeitgeisty and a moment all at once (think Lizzo’s micro Valentino bag at the American Music Awards). And it helps if they travel well on Instagram.
The bejewelled, dollar-bill – so called “Stack O Cash” – clutch Jennifer Lopez was seen carrying at the Hustlers premiere was a great example of this. Featured in the film and a nod to the mid-00s styles from the era it was set, the clutch was three parts Jenny from the Block and one part red-carpet bling. “The concept for the Stack O Cash came directly from the emoji,” says Judith Leiber’s Jana Matheson, who made the purse. “We have been dabbling in many pop art inspired pieces, which also happened to be emojis – hotdogs, hamburgers, french fries.”
They were also responsible for Billy Porter’s fringed purse at the Grammys and J-Lo’s pre-Superbowl American football clutch.
The Stack O Cash, which was also carried by Beyoncé, worked because it feels like a throwback to a cash carrying time. “The Stack O Cash seemed particularly fun because of the nostalgic aspect of cash,” she says. “It won’t be long before people won’t carry actual paper money at all.”
Are they designing anything for the upcoming Oscars ceremony? “Yes!!!!” says Matheson. We are crossing our fingers for a clutch replicating the Woozy face emoji. Someone call Joe Pesci’s stylist.