At first it seemed impossible to imagine: No more red carpets! No more photos of movie stars and names to watch in fabulous dresses covering the internet. Could “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” be the last gasp of that marketing Valhalla of fashion and film that was the modern premiere – at least for the foreseeable future?

At least, that is, until the SAG-AFTRA actor’s strike, announced on July 14, is resolved. Currently, actors, from the unknown to the most celebrated, are prohibited by their union from engaging in any promotional activities. That means big openings. That means magazine covers are promoting new movies. That means film festivals with all their associated dressing and posing opportunities. That means social media photos of them dressing up for premieres.

And what this means for fashion, an industry that has become increasingly intertwined with the denizens of Lalaland in a mutually beneficial ecosystem of influence and costumes – and just as importantly, what it means for the public’s understanding of fashion, much of which is received through the lens of celebrity – is potentially enormous.

Actors sign contracts that can be worth millions, negotiated by agents and managers, to be brand ambassadors, appearing in some combination of commercials, front rows, store openings and red carpets, dressed by stylists, generating coverage, desire and, above all, publicity for all involved.

Their work may shape their substance, but fashion is the fat that sends them viral (and that’s bolstered their bank accounts at a time when the economics of movies are changing — part of the reason for the strike). Timothée Chalamet on the red carpet in Venice in a purple halter top by Haider Ackermann and Florence Pugh in a sheer pink Valentino “revenge dress” are images that put those actors and those brands at the center of social media for days.

Alison Bringé, the chief marketing officer at Launchmetrics, a data analytics and software company, wrote in an email that Margot Robbie’s appearance in Schiaparelli at the film’s Los Angeles premiere “generated more than $2.1 million in media impact value in just 24 hours, which is more than half of what Schiaparelli’s 2023 show amassed in total.”

With all of that grinding to a halt, along with studio productions themselves, what’s going on? And who are most at risk? Actors and studios aren’t the only ones with an interest in this game.

These days, agents and talent seem to be holding their breath and turning their heads to see what everyone else is doing. The brands themselves remain mum. Louis Vuitton, whose ambassadors include Jennifer Connelly, Michelle Williams and Ana de Armas, declined to comment. Versace, who works with Anne Hathaway, as well. Prada, same. Gucci, same. Dior did not respond to requests for comment.

In theory, any fashion promotional work (as opposed to film promotional work) can continue. Commercial appearances are not prohibited, according to the strike guidelines. And there are many such opportunities that have nothing to do with premieres. Recently Wimbledon has become a kind of catwalk for celebrities including Emma Corrin and Brad Pitt.

Much has been made of the fact that the first big red carpet casualty will be the Venice Film Festival, scheduled for August 30 to September 9, and the actual start of awards season, with all the fashion fanfare that entails.

This year the films spread to show star Zendaya, ambassador of Louis Vuitton (Luca Guadagnino’s “Contenders”); Jessica Chastain, who works with Gucci (Michael Franco’s “Memory”); Emma Stone, also a Louis Vuitton ambassador (Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things”); and Penélope Cruz, who works with Chanel (Michael Mann’s “Ferrari”). All of them will most likely be absent.

However, as it happens, early September is also New York Fashion Week, and the start of the entire fashion season. That’s four weeks of potential for appearances and events.

Even more clearly, brands themselves have increasingly tiptoed into the content arena, making short films, especially during the pandemic. What non-studio videos could they cook up? Completely independent films are allowed under strike guidelines. YSL even has its own film production department. The studios would look dedicated – supporting talent – and the talent would look, well, good. When you give lemons. …

Indeed, the strike may make brand relationships even more important, both as a source of revenue and as a creative outlet. “The first writers are on strike, our teams have been busier than ever because many of the actors have had to make more promotional appearances to make up for any slowdown in their main vocation,” said Brooke Wall, the founder of the Wall Group, a talent agency for stylists that is part of the Endeavor group.

That’s one way of looking at it. The matter is, however, more thorny because of the morals and optics involved. Even if SAG-AFTRA members are allowed under the rules to continue their outside work, wouldn’t it seem leftist to do so? Given the glitz and champagne associated with fashion, it might seem a bit like partying while Rome burns.

Fran Drescher, the president of SAG-AFTRA and face of the strike, received voice feedback when she attended the Dolce & Gabbana high fashion extravaganza/junket Alta Moda in Puglia, Italy, just before the strike was announced, although a union spokesman said The Hollywood Reporter that it knew about the trip, and it was good. Add the fact that often the boldest names in the industry have grabbed the biggest outside contracts – precisely that layer of Hollywood that doesn’t necessarily need work during downtime – and the situation becomes even more complicated.

On the other hand, there is a whole substratum of talent who are not at the negotiating table and yet are seriously affected by the suspension of the red carpet: the stylists and hairstylists and makeup artists who help create the image-making magic, and whose salaries are generally paid by the studios, not by the talent.

“It’s not work!” said Kate Young, a stylist whose work focuses on Hollywood.

The end of movie promotion is “a big issue,” according to stylist Karla Welch, who said she’s already had four premiere tours cut short or canceled. “Basically every stylist who works with celebrities has just seen all their work disappear,” she said. “The only thing celebrity people can do is fashion work, and that’s the few people who have celebrity brand deals.”

This may be in part why there has been little noise about suspending brand appearances until now. There is a trickle-down effect at work that is not insignificant when it comes to keeping people alive. Still, Ms. Wall said, “this is a whole new world, so we’ll see.”

Indeed, there is a scenario in which the suspension of the red carpet has the unintended but far-reaching consequence of decoupling fashion and Hollywood, or at least significantly shifting the balance of power. It could prove to brands that they need celluloid celebrities less than they might think, ushering in a new era of ambassadors focused on the rest of the world and talent that has nothing to do with backsides or Oscar statuettes. Indeed, it has already begun.

Two names: BTS and Beyoncé.

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