What it's really like on Oscars weekend for a red-carpet-focused fashion PR firm

Gowns, jewelry, rushing around town, and Academy Awards placement triumphs and disappointments. Staffers from ITB chronicle their Oscars weekend in this diary.

Photo credit: Getty images
Photo credit: Getty images

The following is a diary put together by Lauren Stillman and Ashlan Yeilding providing a timeline of how the fashion showroom of ITB Worldwide secures red carpet celebrity product placements at the Oscars and the Vanity Fair afterparty.

Halle Berry, Kristen Bell, Patricia Clarkson, Angela Bassett, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Melissa McCarthy are just a few of the stars ITB has dressed throughout the 2019 awards season. Heading into Oscar weekend, the final hoorah of back-to-back award shows, our team was filled with a range of emotions: excitement, exhaustion, delirium, and eagerly anticipating the start of the official Oscar ceremony red carpet in 48 hours.

There were five of us on ITB’s Oscar team this year, including SVP Carla Blizzard, VP Lauren Stillman, account supervisor Ashlan Yeilding, senior account executive Mitchell Le, and assistant account executive Alexa Brown.

ITB works in the VIP relations world of fashion — we had one of the first fashion showrooms in Los Angeles—and our agency has worked to establish relationships with top stylists in the industry. These high-profile style decision-makers provide our clients with the opportunity to be worn by Hollywood’s elite, resulting in international press coverage that often translates into sales and other opportunities for our brands. ITB clients include Chopard, Zuhair Murad, Georges Chakra, Ingie Paris, Ester Abner, Hearts on Fire, Tadashi Shoji, and Romona Keveza.

Our red carpet showrooms are basically an air-traffic control for dresses. Stylists submit requests for their clients. We review and approve what looks are available and confirm fitting times while shuffling options to other stylists with similar requests so all dresses have maximum opportunities to be selected and worn.
Here are a few highlights of the ups and downs of the hours before, during, and after a major awards show.

Friday afternoon
It felt like Christmas morning as we unpacked a beautiful Zuhair Murad couture gown fresh from the runway. It was immediately sent off to its first fitting, a high-profile international pop star.

As the day goes by, stylists pop into the showroom unannounced, perusing through our "hold" racks, pleading to take a dress to their fitting and promising they can shuffle it to the next celebrity if not confirmed.

We call and text stylists to learn what’s been decided at fittings from yesterday and the day before. We hear the phrase over and over, "It’s one of two dresses we’re considering" -- in other words, a 50% chance our client’s dress will be worn on the red carpet. Seems like good odds, right? Until we hear they decided to "go a different direction" for reasons never disclosed.

Friday night
A stylist texts after hours — 11 pm — seeking the most simple of strapless little black dresses for one of the Oscar nominees for the weekend. She’s typically known for her extravagant looks. Perhaps she’s thinking she wants to tone it down? We text photos for their consideration.

Saturday morning
As the morning of the big day kicks off, every one of our five staff members is deployed to different stylists to round up the dresses from Friday’s fittings. We already have several fittings and pulls on our schedule for today, and if stylists aren’t using the dresses they have any longer, we can’t get our hands on them fast enough.

The good news is starting to roll in. We’re celebrating a small victory with our first confirmation of a jewelry placement: an Oscar winner who will be presenting at the ceremony.

Our clients love dressing the presenters because it guarantees they’ll be seen on stage, and this confirmed jewelry suite will be quite a showstopper.

(Above: ITB's Lauren Stillman with a haul of gowns)

Saturday afternoon
Last-minute accessory requests are coming in hot! One staffer grabs a pair of red strappy shoes to run across town to Sunset Plaza so an actress can wear them to tomorrow’s events.

Moments after, a supermodel comes in the showroom to try on couture for the most-elevated post-Oscar event, the Vanity Fair party. Luckily one option worked out, so we’ll be keeping an eye on her tomorrow evening.

Someone is announced last-minute to attend the ceremony, a great surprise to us and another opportunity for one of our couture or ready-to-wear designers.

It’s 10 p.m. the night before the Oscars, and [we get] another S.O.S. text requesting more, more, more. The celebrity wasn’t happy with options at the first fitting, so we have another opportunity to try again tomorrow.

Sunday morning
Up bright and early to round up a yellow diamond earring from a stylist who no longer needs it and transfer it to a stylist looking for yellow diamonds. At least the streets in L.A. are empty before 8 a.m. Getting from Brentwood to Hollywood in 30 minutes deserves an award all its own.

We divide and conquer as a team member heads to meet a stylist at the showroom after her client, an A-list singer, decides she doesn’t like the dress she chose for the Vanity Fair party and wants more options. These extra efforts sometimes result in the biggest wins; crossing our fingers it works out this time.

Sunday afternoon
The rest of the team heads to the showroom to draft press releases, prepare shipments back to designers with the options not chosen to be worn, and decompress before the red carpet madness begins.

As our team of five huddles around our computers, we constantly refresh Getty Images to see which celebrities officially walked the carpet. Are they wearing our dress? Did they accessorize with our jewelry, clutch, or shoes? We keep a bird’s eye watch for all the details.

Pizza is delivered: fuel for the rest of the evening.

(Above: ITB's Ashlan Yeilding with one eye on TV interviews and another on the computer)

As the carpet heats up, we’re discussing trends of pink, lavender, tulle explosions, and capes.

Cheers and excitement as we see Allison Janney, Regina King, Queen Latifah, Michelle Yeoh, and Olivia Colman all wear fine jewelry by Chopard.

Unfortunately, we also suffered a letdown watching Jennifer Lopez walk the carpet in a gown that was not what we expected. We were told she had five final options – four of which were gowns from our clients, giving us great odds for a placement. It’s always disappointing when it doesn’t go our way.

Sunday evening
The Oscars start. We watch but still monitor the Elton John and Vanity Fair red-carpet shows to see who else our clients have picked. Wins include America Ferrera and Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden in Tadashi Shoji, which means more press releases to send out keeping us busy.

We have a long night ahead of us as choreographed arrivals at the Vanity Fair afterparty keep us in front of our computers, hunting for photos and sending press releases into the wee hours.

Looking back, we’ve sent a total of 40 press releases for fashion IDs over the last 10 hours.

TIMESTAMP 11:54 p.m:  The final press release of the night is sent, and we are logging off our computers marking the end of the 2019 award show season. 

Editor’s note: In May 2018, Rogers & Cowan acquired ITB Worldwide, a London-based fashion and entertainment shop. In January, R&C merged ITB with Film Fashion, its U.S.-based celebrity red carpet outreach arm. The merger gave ITB red carpet showrooms in New York, London, and Los Angeles.

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