The Change That Will Save the Oscars Is…a Champagne-Colored Carpet?


Say you’re playing a word association game and someone gives you “Oscars.” Somewhere in the first five words you might venture—statues, awards, Billy Crystal—will be the phrase “red carpet.” It’s such a ubiquitous element of the entertainment industry’s biggest awards show that E! built an entire franchise around it. Not to give too much of a glimpse behind the curtain here at VF.com, but we know how you search for awards show fashion—and there are two particular words that get you there. 

Yet the Oscars are betting this year that a champagne carpet might be a change worth investing in. At a ceremony outside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Wednesday, host Jimmy Kimmel, Academy CEO Bill Kramer, and Academy president Janet Yang were on hand for the rollout of the arrivals carpet, which this year will be a distinctly muted champagne/sand/beige shade. Kimmel was ready with a joke about the carpet that, perhaps inevitably, referenced The Slap: “People have been asking, ‘Is there going to be any trouble this year? Is there going to be any violence this year?’ And we certainly hope not,” he said. “But if there is, I think the decision to go with a champagne carpet rather than a red carpet shows how confident we are that no blood will be shed.”

It’s possible the production team will shed more light on the change at a press conference later on Wednesday, but they’re well aware of the precedent they’re breaking. According to ABC, the Oscar arrivals carpet has been red since 1961. 

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As anyone who has entered the Vanity Fair Oscar party knows, the red carpet is a state of mind, even if said carpet is green-and-white striped or a particularly lovely peacock blue. Odds are you will still see a lot of TV hosts referring to the “red carpet” on Oscar Sunday out of force of habit, and we can only hope that anyone who was planning to wear a champagne-colored gown got some fair warning so they don’t risk blending into the background. 

The main question this raises, though, is how many other changes are in store, as the Oscars continue their seemingly endless efforts to tweak traditions and gain new viewers. A new carpet is a much better gambit than, say, eliminating some categories from the telecast, or inventing new categories that are awarded by bots. Maybe the champagne carpet is a preview of potential other changes to come: subtle, classy, something you might not even notice at first. 

Or maybe it’s just fixing something that wasn’t broken in the first place—another Oscar telecast tradition we may not be rid of yet. 

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