Dressed Up for the Tonys, and Still a Long Ways to Go

Dedicated, networked and maximizing the most of every break.

Performers carry those qualities with them, from gig to gig, determined to one day sum up a lifetime of hard work in their award acceptance speech. One that’s been rehearsed down to the minutest detail since the first time they stepped out onto a backyard stage.

So why did 2013 Tony Award winner Andrea Martin, barely ten seconds into her thank-yous, make a point to say,

Carmen Marc Valvo gave me this dress — nobody else would. I just want to thank him.

Would you believe because Tony-nominated actresses – among the classiest performers anywhere, making them high-profile models for, well, class — don’t typically attract the kind of public attention that gown designers crave?

“I’m a movie star, not an actor”

Jennifer Lawrence does, though. You know, the 22-year-old star of Silver Linings Playbook, a movie destined for immortality. On some tweener’s iPhone.

Lawrence was recently paid $100,000 to wear a pair of designer earrings to the Golden Globe awards, according to Radar Online. Her cachet, such as it could hope to be, apparently prompted designers to get into a bidding war for the earrings that Lawrence would subsequently wear to the Oscars.

That’s right. A twenty-something female equivalent of Tom Cruise commands six figures for simply wearing a bauble or two (in 2011, Oscars host Anne Hathaway reportedly fetched $750,000 for wearing Tiffany’s jewels). But a dedicated stage actress, churning out 8 performances a week in a demanding role, has to practically beg for a decent dress to borrow on her special night.

What’s right with these pictures?

The good news is that a Broadway actress actually managed to get her designer-name Cinderella duds in time to strut them on national TV. And Martin was hardly the only one who managed to attract some form of designer attention.

Cicely Tyson sported a ruffled number from B Michael. Bernadette Peters wore signature Donna Karan. And Scarlett Johansson’s blazer came from Saint Laurent.

As a red-carpet write-up from Forbes magazine went on to note, several other actresses – notably Audra McDonald, Judith Light and Jane Krakowski — appeared in get-ups that seemed spiffier than those paraded in past Tony ceremonies. Not many, however, boasted designer names. Some, quite possibly, could have been – insert shudder here – plucked directly off the rack. Or, worse, merely borrowed for the night from a local theater’s costume shop.

The ladies or the tramps?

Maybe it’s just wishful thinking – and what’s wrong with that, Tinseltown? – but Martin’s bold move to thank the guy who dressed her for her Tony just might signal a growing trend of designers gravitating to women of substance, aka stage actresses. We realize we’re out on a limb, but so was Lawrence, literally, in the emotionally manipulative Hunger Games, so here are some reasons to hope for a return to fashion sanity, gown-wise:

  • As the economy recovers, people seem to have renewed an interest in quality, realizing perhaps that the foolish investments of the past won’t cut it in an economy that fluctuates by the nanosecond. Who cares if you saw the likes of Lawrence, nude even, 23 times on DVD? One glimpse, in person, of a real star like McDonald is worth infinitely more.
  • With ticket prices and production budgets at all-time highs on Broadway, the star factor has never mattered more to a show’s bottom line. Can’t very well command the big bucks dressed in sackcloth from Saks.
  • As stars with bi-coastal credentials, and we mean that in the very best of terms, flock back to the theater – yes, 2013 Tony nominee Tom Hanks started out as a stage actor at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland – so, too, might America’s tastes be shifting to entertainment of substance.

It stands to reason, then, that money designers, at least the smart ones, would tend to follow that trend.

Well, we can dream, can’t we?

Image via ShellyS / CC BY 2.0

Pierce Mattie

Pierce Mattie is a full-service marketing agency that interacts with consumers and key stakeholders at every stage of the journey. With a focus in beauty, health and wellness, we are immersed in the marketing landscape, able to powerfully communicate a brand’s point of difference to acquire and maintaining customers. The content team is obsessed with what's trending in the digital world, and how it intersects with consumer behavior. We are passionate about the changing landscape of the world, including how emergent technologies affect brand attachment, how diversity and inclusivity are critical to success, and where humans fit into the equation.

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