Awards Show Madness Begins Again

Summer is quickly fading into fall, Fashion Week has come and gone, and hemlines have fallen from mini to maxi. It all proves that nothing lasts forever no matter how good or bad it is.

Take Britney Spears' career, for example. (But who'd want to?) As millions watched her un-synched lips and catatonic dance moves at MTV's Video Music Awards, her career crashed and burned. What a waste.

But as the door seemed to slam shut on Spears' reign as a pop princess, another door opened for Chris Brown and Rihanna, and they strutted straight through it. Rihanna was looking hotter than hell in hot pink -- the prettiest girl of the evening. She and Brown seized the moment in a stunning and sexy duet that stole the show, his dance routine the best we've since since Michael Jackson's "Thriller" days.

This Sunday, the spotlight turns from music to television with the Emmy awards -- second only to the Oscars among Hollywood self-congratulatory extravaganzas. But let's be honest: Does anyone even remember the winners from last year? And if they do, do they truly believe that they winners were "the best" in their fields?

As a successful (and far from modest) celebrity fashion stylist, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Award shows are really just another celebrity fashion show on the red carpet.

At the Emmys, actresses who normally play slick detectives or trailer trash tramps or stereotypical suburban sex symbols get the opportunity to play princess. They wear billowy chiffon gowns or figure-flattering dresses and borrow baubles and bling, while we mere mortals become judge and jury as fashion critics at the watercooler come Monday morning.

Glamorous dahling? Not so much. But, like husbands to Monday Night Football, I return again and again, year after year. Is it a sickness, an addiction, a habit, or, for some insane reason, do I really love it? I guess a little bit of all of the above.

Before Getting Glam, Get to Work

Truth be told, the Emmys and I have shared a glamorous past together. "My" first win was Julianna Margulies for "ER," wearing a white Donna Karan '30s-inspired draped sheath. Then there was Kristen Johnston from "3rd Rock From the Sun," in a bejeweled and beguiling yellow Vera Wang.

One year, I even got to dress the show hostess, Jenna Elfman. That required three changes. Extra work, but that's what they pay me for. And I love it.

Then there was Halle Berry for HBO's "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," in a coral adorned Versace one year to present and a Valentino tulle confection the following year for the win. After that, Cheryl Hines -- she was last year's nominee from "Curb Your Enthusiasm," radiant in a rich purple George Chakra that was sexy lady from the front and bejeweled goddess from the back.

After all, as a kid I dreamed of one day coming to Hollywood and being among the stars. But once I arrived, I quickly learned that one's brightest dream could become his worst nightmare.

The hot stars, faces, dresses and designers change from year to year. The competition is fierce, the pressure intense. (I know we are not curing cancer or ending the war here, but we all have our insular little worlds).

Enough about me. Let's talk about you. The question people ask me the most is "How do you get celebrities dressed for an awards show? What's the process?" Let me tell you. And pardon the industry-talk -- I'll be the first to admit, it sounds like the love child of "Entourage" and "The Devil Wears Prada," both of which feature uber-cutie Adrian Greiner.

Usually, the first step is styling someone for a photo shoot. If you "click and vibe," then they have their "people" call on you for countless errands and events that pay little to nothing. With any luck, your celeb client eventually gets an award nomination, and then you get the coveted "call."

My mental Rolodex starts recalling every gown I've seen in the last six months. Then I look to glamour girls past, like Grace Kelly, Natalie Wood and Sophia Loren for inspiration. Next, I call my contacts at all the usual suspects: Valentino, Armani, Versace, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Badgley Mischka and Carmen Marc Valvo. Then there's the whole new crop of design stars: J. Mendel, Zac Posen, Elie Saab, Monique Lhuillier and Marchesa, to name a few favorites.

After wading and wandering through showrooms, look-books and Web sites, I begin to choose my favorite looks. Now, thanks to a concept I didn't invent, but re invented in the late '90s, called the "exclusive," I wait and see who is willing to play dress up with me and my shining star. Sometimes this concept -- wherein fashion label and star commit only to one another for the evening -- can bring a guaranteed bit of press attention without me having to run all over town.

A fitting date is then set, usually at the celebrity's house, and typically a week before the event. Some do their fittings in pieces, but I like to do one, pick the three best outfits, and come back a few days before the event for a final fitting, where we pick bags, shoes and jewels to go with the final selection. And of course, don't forget those waist-whittling, tummy-taming undergarments that allow the starlets to look oh-so-fit and fabulous on the red carpet.

Somehow, all the pieces -- gowns, shoes, bags and jewels -- of this glamorous puzzle come together, and the actress lives out her childhood dream, while her starry-eyed proud stylist sits on the sidelines, living out his.

And then he goes online and to the newsstand to see how he did. Because after all, that's your call.

Phillip Bloch is a Hollywood stylist and pop culture commentator. Click here to visit his Web site.