What to Watch: Classic Menswear With a Modern Twist Will Reign This Awards Season

One of the more fanciful fashion trends to pop up during the pandemic was more adventurous men’s red carpet dressing, where male celebrities swapped the classic black tuxedo for colorful and couture-like options.

While this level of high-fashion dressing may continue into the upcoming awards season, several celebrity stylists are anticipating the trend will tone down a bit and will merge with classic menswear dressing.

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“Last year going into awards season, everyone was just so expressive and people hadn’t had the opportunity to dress up and hit a red carpet,” said Zadrian Smith, who styles Ariana DeBose, Phil Dunster, Benjamin Walker and others with his styling partner Sarah Edmiston. “Men really kind of pushed the gamut when it came to fashion last season. But we’ve already started to get an inkling of what this season is going to look like and who the top contenders are going to be — everyone from Brendan Fraser from ‘The Whale’ to Colin Farrell from ‘The Banshees of Inisherin.’ I think it’s going to be a return to classicism because there’s a lot of the old guard that’s coming back this season. That twist and that forward-thinking peacocking that we saw last year might calm down because a lot of the film nominees so far are older and their style has traditionally been a bit more classic.”

The trend of adventurous men’s red carpet dressing hit its peak during the 2021 awards season, the first that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, with celebrities like Dan Levy, Leslie Odom Jr., Daniel Kaluuya and others surprising spectators with their modern looks. During the following year’s awards season, the trend persisted on the likes of Timothée Chalamet, Andrew Garfield, Harry Styles, Kodi Smit-McPhee and others, but many other male celebrities were looking back to classic menswear.

“I feel like because we swung so far in that direction, what my gut is saying is that the pendulum is going to completely swing the other way,” said stylist Avo Yermagyan, who styles Odom Jr., Chase Stokes, Patrick Schwarzenegger and others. “I feel like this upcoming awards season, we need a little bit of a reset — something to cleanse the palette from all of the streetwear and the sweats. I think it’s time for guys to go back to more classic menswear.”

Classic menswear may be returning to the red carpet, but elements of the adventurous, high-fashion trend are still expected to stay — namely self-expression and staying true to oneself.

“Talent today have an identity,” said stylist and Aliétte designer Jason Rembert, who has styled Kaluuya, John Boyega, Liev Schreiber and others. “I think in the early 2000s and going into the mid-2000s, it was just formality — like you’re a leading man so you should wear this Dior suit or this Armani tux and now it’s like, I’m a leading man, but I’m going to wear Botter, A-Cold-Wall, Willy Chavarria or Luar and I can still be a leading man.”

Rembert explained that as menswear has become more fluid, more male celebrities are open to experimenting with their looks to have their identity shine through rather than letting “menswear clothing define his style.”

This blend of classic menswear with high-fashion red carpet dressing is expected to be seen through different style elements, such as a mixing of cuts like fitted jackets paired with loose trousers. Michael Fisher, who styles Nick Kroll, David Harbour and Jake Gyllenhaal, among others, thinks more casual cuts that redefine the notion of the suit will be a big trend in 2023.

In terms of color, stylist Monty Jackson, who works with stars like Sam Heughan, Taron Egerton, Murray Bartlett and others, is predicting richer hues popping up on the red carpet this season.

Chase Stokes, John Boyega, Harry Styles and Daniel Kaluuya on the red carpet in 2022.
Chase Stokes, John Boyega, Harry Styles and Daniel Kaluuya on the red carpet in 2022.

“It’s just straying away from the classic blacks and grays,” he said. “Think blues, greens and oxblood, and we’re going to see lots of velvet.”

Yermagyan is predicting some western nods that have popped up on recent runways will make their way to the red carpet, noting he’s anticipating seeing subtle references to stars like Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

He explained that many of his clients are more involved in the styling process, something that’s become more common since the 2021 awards season when there were no physical red carpets. Yermagyan said his clients’ involvement helps bring their identity into focus through their red carpet looks. The stylist referenced his client, “Reservation Dogs” actor D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, who regularly pays tribute to his Indigenous roots through his red carpet looks.

“Even though the carpets are back, [actors] become interested in being part of creating those images for a carpet,” he said. “What we’re seeing is when men are doing press and they’re doing carpets, they’re still having photoshoots for the events to capture that creative moment. They’re excited about being involved in that process and I’m seeing they’re also more conscious of the meaning of how they’re dressing.”

Smith stated he thinks the red carpet will see roughly 80 percent of male nominees going the more classic route this awards season. He explained the return to classic may be a reflection of what’s going on in the world.

“You really need to look at what’s happening in the cultural zeitgeist to see what will be reflected,” he said. “Last year, there was a joy and there was a celebration of returning to the carpet and it was the first return to a full awards season. This year, obviously we’re still celebrating, but the world is in a bit of a dire place with everything that’s happening globally and economically, what’s happening in Iran. We’re in a very different place as a culture than we were last year. That’s also seen in the types of films that are going into awards season. There’s a serious, kind of somber palette to the films and I think that will be reflected in the fashion.”

Overall, the stylists think that each male celebrity will have his own take on blending classic menswear with high-fashion dressing and the red carpet will surely produce a breadth of looks over awards season. Individuality and self-expression will be the common theme tying it all together.

“The idea that men are not confined to just one way of expressing themselves on the red carpet — it’s almost like the pandemic has opened everyone’s eyes to say, why not be freer and why be locked-in to rules?” Fisher said. “If wearing a skirt feels good, then why not do it? If not wearing a tux is more your vibe, go for it.”

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