The Evolution of The Red Carpet

In 1902, New York adorned its train platforms with opulent crimson carpets to guide passengers." "While not initially extravagant," she notes, "as it was primarily reserved for first-class travelers, the red carpet evolved into a symbol of prestige. Over time, the concept of the 'red carpet treatment' flourished. It served as a means to bestow upon individuals a sense of distinction.

Stepping Out For The First Time

Stepping into the limelight for the very first time, the red carpet made its grand entrance in Hollywood under the meticulous orchestration of theater magnate Sid Grauman. On October 18, 1922, Grauman orchestrated the inaugural Hollywood premiere at his opulent Egyptian Theatre, featuring the cinematic masterpiece "Robin Hood," a production that commanded nearly $1 million—a sum of extraordinary opulence for its time.

Amongst the luminaries such as Douglas Fairbanks and Wallace Beery, the crimson pathway instantly became synonymous with allure and prestige. "Glamour became an instant association," Henderson remarks. "For the actors, it symbolized personal acclaim—a hallmark of distinction cherished by Hollywood."

The History of The Red Carpet: Why is it Red?

What’s The Story Behind The Most Famous Carpet In The World?

As the awards season unfolds, stars from film, TV, and music showcase their best on the illustrious red carpet. While the red carpet appears timeless to many, have you considered its origins and why it's draped in crimson? We've embarked on a journey to uncover the luxurious history behind this iconic tradition.

Dating back to as early as 458 BC in Ancient Greece, references to the 'red carpet' emerge. In the Greek tragedy "The Oresteia," Clytemnestra laid out a red carpet to receive her husband, Agamemnon, upon his return (as depicted in the mask above). During that era, red symbolized divine status, embodying warmth and hospitality. Following the play's debut, painters frequently depicted red carpets in their works to denote regality and affluence. In 1821, in Georgetown, South Carolina, the prestige of a scarlet-hued carpet persisted. When US President James Monroe arrived, a red carpet was rolled out to greet him as he disembarked from a riverboat, symbolizing the significance and grandeur of his arrival.

Yet, it wasn't until 1902 that the red carpet ascended to its modern prominence. With the debut of a new rail service linking New York and Chicago, a red carpet guided passengers to their carriages. Since then, this symbol of opulence has graced countless prestigious events, embodying luxury and elegance.

In 1961, the Academy Awards unveiled the red carpet. However, with television broadcasting solely in black and white, its vibrant allure remained unnoticed to viewers.

Initially, event organizers introduced the red carpet not as a luxury symbol, but as a subtle guide for actors. It wasn't until 1964 that the spectacle of stars gracing the red carpet captivated audiences, evolving into an enduring icon of elegance and opulence, persisting over 50 years later.

Barbra Streisand's attire at the 1969 Oscars initiated the trend of flaunting extravagant outfits on the red carpet. Her sequined, see-through ensemble turned heads, setting a new standard of allure. Since then, it has become customary for at least one star to showcase something unconventional at red-carpet events, adding an element of opulence and sophistication.

The Modern Red Carpet

Today, events spanning from the Met Gala to the Washington Correspondents’ Dinner honor guests with the red carpet treatment. In the world of cinema and beyond, this emblem of prestige extends its allure beyond just film stars.

Attend a gala screening at the Cannes Film Festival, and you'll witness a captivating array of attendees: musicians, models, millionaires, and moguls, all gracing the red carpet. Their presence often eclipses that of the actors. In this hyperreal environment, as Henderson suggests, we encounter "perfected creatures" seemingly from another realm. While we may strive to emulate their style, they remain elusive.

Executives have astutely recognized the marketing potential of the red carpet, leveraging it to promote luxury goods and high-end fashion. For other products, billboards offer an alternative avenue.