Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced plans for a sweeping set of changes designed to tweak the Oscars ceremony and presumably bring in new viewers. The vague announcement of a new “popular film” category got the most press and elicited the most anger, while news that the ceremony would be edited down to a strict three-hour runtime, with the caveat that many awards wouldn’t be broadcast live on air, also ruffled many. The announcement that, starting in 2020, the ceremony would be bumped up two weeks to early February, as opposed to its usual late-February or early-March airdate, was met with far less hand-wringing, if any notice at all. For most people, it just means that the Oscars will now be exactly one week after the Super Bowl, a strange but manageable shift.
The American fashion industry, however, noticed the date change almost immediately. Specifically, the fact that it means the Oscars will now be smack dab in the middle of New York Fashion Week.
While in the fashion industry Fashion Week may be the most important time of year, that same industry knows that in the eyes of the general public there’s no bigger fashion event on the calendar than the Oscars red carpet. Now that industry will have to juggle both at once.
That means that at the same time American design houses are finishing their collections and preparing their presentations, they’ll also have to manage efforts to get their gowns on the backs of nominees. It also means that they’ll have to fill out their front rows and party guest lists with celebrities who aren’t otherwise engaged with the Oscar ceremonies. And, if you’ll allow us to indulge ourselves, it means the fashion press now has to sandwich covering the red carpet in the middle of Fashion Week. Not to mention that the situation suddenly inflames one of the biggest causes of existential dread for any New Yorker: the very existence of the city of Los Angeles.
Several American designers have experimented with debuting their collections in the City of Angels in recent years, most notably in 2015, when Tom Ford, one of the shining stars of NYFW, temporarily moved his show to Los Angles to, yes, coincide with the Oscars. The experiment only lasted a season, but one has to wonder if others may find themselves tempted to replicate it.
This all comes at a time when there’s already hand-wringing over the future of Fashion Week. American brands have experimented with moving their shows overseas, or opting for parties and presentations in lieu of traditional runway shows. Not a single Fashion Week goes by without several stories being churned out lamenting the future of Fashion Week.
Then again, maybe it’s not that big of a deal. The Oscars have traditionally fallen in the middle of Paris Fashion Week, and those French fashion houses have had no problems getting both A-listers in their front rows in Europe and their clothes on the red carpet in Los Angeles. If the French can do it, why not the Americans?
It’s not exactly like the country is lacking celebrities, either. Not everyone with a bold name is invited to the Oscars or even its afterparties. Indeed, there may be several A-listers bitter that their latest passion project didn’t garner a nomination who would like nothing better than a champagne-fueled distraction on the other side of the country during the awards ceremony.
We guess writers and editors, especially of the digital ilk, will still have to drop everything on Sunday night and put in even more extra work during the week, but there really is a limit to how much champagne the body can handle in a week, anyway.
Besides, given the way the Oscars’ other changes have been received, would anyone be totally surprised should they suddenly decide to rethink their supposed improvements to the ceremony?