The future of the Oscars red carpet amid coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus has been wreaking havoc on the entertainment industry, with production halted for months and closed theaters pushing movie openings to streaming and on-demand services.

The Oscars have been moved from the end of February 2021 to April 25 due to the pandemic, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has not offered any details about exactly how the show would change.

The famed red carpet will surely look different, given how many reporters and photographers are packed into such a small place.

Who wears what at the Academy Awards has become almost as important as who wins, but will COVID-19 be the end of the red carpet as we know it?

"The amount of journalists and fans and people, and the kind of lack of social distancing, is just really not possible to go back to that," WWD Style Director Alex Badia said.

The Oscars red carpet has been called "Fashion's most important runway," a place located at the intersection of art and commerce where the fate and fortunes of entire companies can depend on the success of a single dress.

"And I don't think the brands will let go of that so easily," Badia said. "So I do think they will find a way of doing it."

WWD recently offered a vision of the future as conceived by 15/40 Productions.

"Glass separations between celebrities, one camera, no reporters," Badia said. "All reporters are doing everything through Zoom."

Fans could also interact with the stars through Zoom, and those fans might even be able to use e-commerce to buy copies of what the stars are wearing.

"Maybe it's the kind of thing where you can find the shoes a celebrity is wearing if you want to buy them right there," Badia said.

It sounds cool enough, although inevitably, some of the excitement of Oscar night would get lost.

"That energy that you normally get, that kind of adrenaline rush, it's really fascinating," Badia said. "And it's unfortunately something that we will miss when we cover red carpets."

For now, the fashion industry has hit the pause button in part because, as designer Christian Siriano recently told WWD, "When family members are sick and dying, people don't care if you look fabulous."
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