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Joan Rivers & The History of Red Carpet Fashion at the Emmys

You can’t really talk about red carpet fashion without talking about the comedy legend Joan Rivers.

It’s been one year since her passing, and whenever I watch a red carpet ceremony, I can’t help but hear that delightful Rivers squawk provide a running commentary in my head.

I remember watching some of the first red carpet events on TV as a tweenager. Joan Rivers was a whirlwind of energy, loudly approaching celebrities with her New York lilt and waving microphone. “Who are you wearing?” quickly became a part of the pop-culture lexicon.

Back then, Joan Rivers was face to face with the celebrities. As a result she had to be a bit kinder to them than she would eventually be on her pre-taped E! show, Fashion Police. Her daughter Melissa was frequently on the other end of the carpet, nervously interviewing other celebs about their looks as they arrived to the event. The mother-daughter duo’s camaraderie on camera, as well as their ability to get celebrities to chat with them before the event made the red carpet event THE thing to watch before an awards show.

The E! Red Carpet Special premiered in 1995 (according to iMdB) and Melissa and Joan were the first two hosts. Prior to the Riverses taking over the job, it had been an unwanted position, full of hosts (such as Regis Philbin) that fumbled to talk to the nominees walking down the carpet.

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Joan left E! for a brief period in the early 2000’s to host TV Guide’s red carpet special. However, the red carpet trend of,”Who are you wearing?” was already in full swing.

Since Joan revitalized the red carpet and made it an essential part of awards show viewing parties, it’s become popular for whatever network is airing the event to have a pre-show welcoming the guests and chatting with them about fashion. Baubles are oohed and aahed over, designers names are dropped, and 360 glam cams are eyed with scrutiny.

On September 10th, 2010, Rivers’s show Fashion Police debuted…just in time to wage their attack on the Emmys. Now behind closed doors, Rivers (and her merry band of commentators) were able to rip into celebrity fashion like never before.

Days before her tragic death on September 4th, 2014, Rivers hosted her final Fashion Police. The topic? The Emmys and the VMA’s. This year will be the first Emmy special without Rivers at the helm, and it just won’t be the same. Thinkpieces from Refinery 29 and Jezebel have recently sprung up on the internet, questioning whether or not the show is still relevant without Rivers’s presence.

In a glaring snafu, Oscar’s left Rivers out of their ‘In Memoriam’ segment this year, but get ready to stand up and cheer while watching the Emmys for she will certainly be featured in the TV award shows slideshow of tears.

Joan MotherLoving Rivers – goddess of snark. For better or worse, you’re the voice in our heads, commenting on red carpet fashion.

Thanks to Rivers, Emmy viewing parties this year will be a safe haven where we can all take harmless jabs at celebrities outfits without fear of judgement.

Raise a glass every time you hear a commentator ask, “Who are you wearing?” because it’s a legacy of a delightful and straightforward woman who we all dearly miss.

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