The Style of the Olivier Awards

The Rake explores the red carpet style quirks seen at this year’s Olivier Awards, and considers why it’s worth paying attention to them.

I much prefer the style of the Oliviers to the Baftas and the Oscars. Though the ceremony is more understated than it’s film related counterparts, from a sartorial perspective its far more curious – populated as it by those actors who have chosen to at least partially shun the silver screen and instead commit themselves to a life spent treading the boards, in pursuit of dramatic perfection. Clichéd though this might sound, there is most certainly a sense of theatricality about the tailoring on show, notably more so this time around than there has been before and from a position of complete ignorance, one can’t help but think rather romantically that the expressive nature of theatre performance lends itself to experimenting with the traditions of red carpet formalwear.

This year’s awards in particular presented a veritable raft of polished evening dress, with just about every variant of the dinner suit on display from the perfectly executed classic shawl or peak lapelled black two piece, to a number of slightly more outré, yet beguiling cocktail looks. Luke Evans in a slim, trim black two-piece dinner suit from Hackett looked rather fine. As did James Norton, who opted for a true midnight blue three piece, cut by contemporary British tailors par none, Thom Sweeney. Lent a natural suavity thanks to his suit’s well balanced lapels, smooth waist run and soft lines, Norton made a particularly elegant impression, thoroughly reinforcing the timeless appeal of midnight blue.

Many more perspicacious gentlemen, including winners of the award for Best Actor Kenneth Cranham, and Best Supporting Actor Mark Gatiss, displayed a similarly refined aesthetic; both in clean-cut coats paired with traditional white Marcella fronted dinner shirts. The devil here is very much in the details; Savile Row’s Chester Barrie cut both these suits and the coat’s fit and lines in both instances were crucial to the overall composition of each look. Both suits were ventless, as is traditional, helping each jacket’s skirt to hug the hips for a clean line, which was complimented by the fact that both coats fastened just below, rather than on or above the natural waist, for a louche attitude which also offers the added bonus of elongating the line of one's lapels. Both suits were faced not in grosgrain, but a rich Mogador twill, which whilst unorthodox, lent both garments an undeniably superior sheen and significant depth of texture. Pockets were bound in the same facing without flaps for a polished finish.


April 2016


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