76th annual golden globes 2019 man repeller
The Biggest Golden Globes Trend Had Nothing to Do With the Red Carpet

As I sat down to watch the Golden Globes red carpet last night, I did so armed with a fleet of screens: my television, tuned into E!; my laptop, where I had no fewer than eight Google Chrome tabs open to various red carpet slideshows I planned to refresh throughout the evening; and my phone, to check up on Instagram coverage of the event. To my initial surprise, the latter ended up being far more gripping (not to mention informative) than any actual live footage, at least from the standpoint of outfit observations.

When I scrolled through an Instagram slideshow that showed every angle of Lady Gaga’s magnificent train, which wasn’t fully visible on TV (because she had to gather it up to walk and/or rearrange it every five seconds so as not to trip) or in red carpet slideshows (because the majority are limited to one photo from one angle per person), something clicked: She wasn’t dressed for the red carpet. She was dressed for social media.

Lady Gaga has always been distinctively talented at sparking internet frenzies with her style choices, but last night I noticed this approach was seemingly the rule rather than the exception. Take, for example, the dramatic bows that adorned the ensembles or hairdos of a preponderance of celebrities: Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Alison Brie, Amber Heard, Kaley Cuoco, Danai Gurira, Constance Wu, Sofia Carson, Julianne Moore…the list goes on. Bows have been having a notable moment on social media lately — or a “bowment,” as my favorite Royals fashion commentator Elizabeth Holmes has dubbed it it. Holmes has an entire highlight on her Instagram account dedicated to bow content sparked by Kate Middleton’s decision to wear one and the viral clamor that ensued. It could be the Middleton effect, or it could be the fact that bows — much like millennial pink — appear to be serious Instagram like-bait. (Or at least I assume they are, given that popular visual candy accounts like @c__l__o and @simplicitycity keep posting photos where they are prominently featured.)

In addition to uber-long trains and bows, other made-for-Instagram flourishes included: Timothée Chalamet’s sparkling harness (no better way to milk a heartthrob status), Lili Reinhart’s teeny tiny bag (why opt for a traditional clutch when you can opt for one of social media’s favorite trends?), Rachel Weisz’s seriously ruffled dress (wearable whipped cream for the win) and Janelle Monáe’s golden head topper (I could have easily written an entire essay on this accessory alone). Details like these aren’t meant for fleeting camera pans or straight-on photographs. They’re meant for Instagram close-ups. They’re meant for memes!

I shared the beginnings of this thesis to Man Repeller’s Instagram while I was in the midst of working through it, and the post garnered some interesting responses. One person pointed out the strategy behind this particular variety of stylistic maneuver: “the stars know what people will continue to talk about once the show is over!!!”

I couldn’t agree more. From a calculated perspective, a celebrity is only as famous as the press he or she is garnering, and these days the most powerful press is that which takes place on Instagram and Twitter. A viral moment is invaluable currency when it comes to fame and its maintenance, so why not take every measure possible to try to be the subject of one?

This question creates a fascinating climate for red carpet style, because an outfit that might have landed a celebrity on dreaded “worst dressed” lists in past years might now be his or her ticket to coveted social media chatter. In that sense, risk-taking has never been less risky. What do you think?

Feature photos by George Pimentel/WireImage and Steve Granitz/WireImage via Getty Images.

Get more Pop Culture ?