Treading the tantalising trail of the red carpet

red carpet

The season of entertainment awards is definitely underway in the moment and while there are a host of elements very identifying of this celebration in recognition, it is the roll of the red carpet indeed that has to be the most defining character of this grand spectacle of annual occurrence. With a legacy of its own to live up to, and in rather unexpected a residing through history, the red carpet has itself been an iconic symbol and style in representation. The fascinating such flair of what unfurls thus upon its luxuriously glamorous length of ruling is something that might have been derived out of its as peculiar premise as well.

As surprising as it might sound, the ‘origins’ of the red carpet seem to be much ancient. Equally surprising it is that even in its first ever roll out, this length of red resplendence had been as notable an encounter in the now starry, then royal runs upon it. Though trailing from out of a fictional representation of what prevailed as part of Greek mythology, this unfolding of the vividly carpeted character is much recounted in such references of its coming to being.

Dating back to times still defined as the BC era, precisely to the year of 458 in the 5th century, is this notion of the red carpet existing as something way ahead of its time. It is through the narrative of the play Agamemnon by Aeschylus that the red carpet finds expression as a path of treading for the king returning in all glory of a victory earned in the Trojan War. But what followed in this ravishing route of the royal repute would stem as happenings that were dramatic to say the least.

The account unfolds of an unfaithful king Agamemnon returning home along with his concubine Cassandra to his as disloyal wife Clytemnestra. Despite the latter’s own identifying within this dark fore of the relationshippal, she still devised for her husband a scheme in fatality. Seeking to lure with the sashaying run of a red strip of ingenuity, Clytemnestra laid instead for an unsuspecting Agamemnon a trap of death.

red carpet history
Source: BBC

By hoping to invoke the wrath of the Gods through having her husband walk upon a divine course that would imply a notion in Agamemnon considering himself more powerful than the divine itself, the beautiful twin sister of the more ‘illustrious’ Helen of Troy connived indeed to have the king bear the repercussion of his others romance. And thus Agamemnon marches indeed upon the path of his death, either at the hands of his wife or her lover, dawning upon the red carpet already such ‘esteem’ in beginnings that one wouldn’t help but be enticed by indeed.

From upon the dark pages of a history much ancient to the glittery show of current relevance, this particular span of the reds has been a case in asserting indeed the remarkable reaches of what is at once a residing in love and sensuality as well as in revenge and danger. The trail though wouldn’t be leading yet to its most coveted stop of the charismatic Hollywood casing, finding stopovers in somewhat diverse points through its journey of many utterly interesting unfoldings.

The celebrity stomping through the red carpet would come to be a phenomenon exactly a century ago from now. But it would be first a diplomatic and then a more ordinary but decorated still dwelling in which the pomp would entail as being an essential attribute of this description in specialness.

It would be James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States with whom the distinction would rest as leading the red carpet to such definition that marks the route taken by heads of state on ceremonial and formal occasions. Unfurling again another 100 years back in 1821 would be this event fanning out as show of ceremony, upon Monroe’s stepping off a riverboat in South Carolina. What though followed this expression in particularity would not occur in as much certainty, rendering this mode of treading the path carpeted in red a somewhat ambiguous but still unobscured character.

red carpet on plane
Source: Wikipedia

The other means in happening would take the rail route of attending sometime in the opening years of the 20th century. That would be a thing in a New York of the 1900s when plush crimson carpets were laid out to direct people boarding the trains. The intention of this wasn’t anything very special in itself but the fact that it generally were first class ticket holders for whom this way in treading was curated made it essentially therefore also as significant an identity in social status. And thus came to stick the reference of the special treatment being an alternative expression for the red carpet ‘allowance’, manifesting it as being the path for all attributes desirable to follow on.

Special being but an obvious, characteristic determinant of all things starry and celebrated and exciting, it was only natural that the avenue of the entertainment would soon find incorporation into this expanse of the red. In fact so enthusiastically embraced by the extravagant expression of the arts would be this striking sanguine strip that would make it a necessity for the flair of performances to take over, even when it is an interpretation in just the poised nature of posing. For despite what one might say, posing in an art in itself and to stand up to their set images of essentially attractive and stylish presentations, celebrities and public personalities do indeed fall back quite a lot on the red carpet itself for it to work its innate charm.

What 1922 though saw accruing to the red carpet in terms of adding another strand of essence to its identity would occur in as artistic as artsy a manner of assertion. The honor would rest with theater magnate Sid Grauman in his staggering $1 million worth production of the smash hit Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood, who left no stone unturned in maintaining indeed the show in all swagger.

The first motion picture ever to have a Hollywood premiere, the silent adventure film would also be parallelly ushering in an era of red hot stardom destined indeed to impress and influence. That it marked also a grand joint debut of Grauman Cineplex and the Los Angeles Theater only adds to its weight in substance and the movie became an epoch making phenomenon in more ways than one. But even as these raised standards of stardom saw already names like Douglas Fairbanks, Wallace Beery and other equally celebrated identities doing the ravishing walk upon that realm, it wouldn’t be until the 1950s, or rather the 1960s perhaps that red carpet would be intertwined with the very assertion in Hollywood specific entertainment and elegance itself.

The defining standard of style and sophistication and stardom today, setting by and for itself such precedent to be followed in all lofty, grand aspirations of emulating, red carpets span a significance that is the very hallmark of Hollywood. They grace the ground across all notable events and ceremonies, in and outside the arena of the entertainment- a ‘tradition’ most definitely and prominently established in 1961. That was the year when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chose to add a red carpet to its broadcast formula, even when it had been Grauman’s Chinese Theatre itself that had hosted the Oscars between 1944 and 1946.

The rule- and role- of this red presence continues to be as relevant today as it had been more than six decades back in earning the ultimate approval that matters. The grandiose assertion of annual occurring in form of the Oscar Awards is attempted to be met by a 900 by 33 feet sprawl of the carpet, spanning in considerable distinction than its 150 by 45 foot beginnings courtesy Sid Grauman. Not any difference in essence though has taken over yet this resounding resonance of the photo op, laid to creaseless perfection by the organisers of the event not exclusively of the Academy distinction either. Perfection indeed is what dictates throughout the prominence of the red carpet, whether it be in alluding to sophistication and style or specialness and significance in similar according of status.