Fred Leighton on the Red Carpet

There’s fashion month and then there’s the red carpet, a parade of fabulously talented people wearing jaw dropping couture topped off with dazzling jewels. The red carpet run up to the awards shows is arguably more fun than any of the awards shows themselves. A close up look at hair, makeup, designer gowns and million dollar jewels is enough to keep all of us fashionistas glued to our screens.

Over the past few decades red carpet fashion has shifted from being dominated by Armani and Harry Winston in the 1980s and 1990s to becoming a showcase of creative style for couture and jewelry, with vintage and antique jewels making a strong showing. One of the red carpet stand outs is Fred Leighton, the storied retailer of antique and vintage jewelry. Fred Leighton’s chief creative officer, Rebecca Selva has been with the retailer since 1992 and she oversees the red carpet requests. During the recent round of red carpet events Fred Leighton adorned many A-listers including Carey Mulligan, Jodie Foster, Margot Robbie, Greta Gerwig, Sydney Sweeney and Lana Del Ray among others.

Boivin diamond and gold necklace, worn by Carey Mulligan at the 2024 SAG Awards, courtesy Fred Leighton.

Working with Stylists

So how did Fred Leighton get involved in draping fabulous jewels on celebs at high profile events? “We got involved organically,” recounts Selva. “Our involvement came through a request from Prada. They were dressing Nicole Kidman for the Oscars and they needed an opal choker necklace to accessorize the dress. We just happened to have what they were looking for and she wore it. We were happy to see the opal choker worn so beautifully.”

Competition to get a brand’s jewelry on a celebrity walking the red carpet is, needless to say, fierce and notoriously unreliable. Many brands show up before a big event with trunks of jewelry hoping that they will be lucky enough to score a placement. Fred Leighton has a very different approach.

“We have relationships and work with stylists all year, not just during red carpet season,” explains Selva. “We curate a focused collection of jewelry based on information from designers and stylists who we work with all year. The Oscars are very important, they are a high point of our relationships, but we spend all year collaborating and creating beautiful moments. The goal is to showcase the individual talent and beauty of each celebrity who wears Fred Leighton jewels.”

Boivin gold and diamond swirl cuff and Belperron gold and diamond bombe ring, worn by Margot Robbie at the 2024 Academy Awards, courtesy Fred Leighton.

Red Carpet Trends

The red carpet is a place that people look to trend track the hottest styles and this year (2024) there has been a trend to the classics. “People are drawn to the classic diamond riviere and old mine diamond solitaire earrings,” reports Selva. “There is also an elegance that I see, it’s about the perfect accent. The person walks in first.”

Selva notes that she always collaborates closely with the gown designer and stylist when they are getting ready for the red carpet. “It’s exciting to work with stylists to be a part of their vision and the actor’s vision. It’s exciting to see jewelry become part of the celebration of the talent and beauty of the moment.”

The 1950’s diamond and platinum cascading earrings, worn by Margot Robbie at the 2024 Govenors Awards, courtesy Fred Leighton.

Vintage Jewelry Relevant and Exciting

Vintage has been becoming more and more mainstream as consumers shop for fashion finds from past decades and jewelry has come right along with it. Selva credits the late comedienne and fashion arbiter, Joan Rivers, who was a fixture on the red carpets, with bringing more awareness to vintage jewelry. “Joan Rivers brought a lot of visibility to the red carpet,” comments Selva. “She knew gowns and she knew and understood jewelry. People wanted to see what she liked. She was instrumental in bringing red carpet jewelry to the public.”

Georgian amethyst and gold pendant  earrings, worn by Rosamund Pike at the 2024 Critics Choice Awards, courtesy Fred Leighton.

Brooches are one of the biggest challenges for jewelry placement. Selva notes that Fred Leighton was one of the first to style brooches on men, getting women to wear them is another story altogether. “They always ask ‘how do I wear it?’” says Selva. “Brooches are not reserved for shoulders or lapels, they can be worn on a sleeve, or to close a scarf, or in a cluster if you have a few small ones. Look at jewelry with fresh eyes, especially brooches.”

The messaging on the red carpet concludes Selva is that there is nothing old about vintage jewelry, it’s as relevant and exciting as when it was first created.

Featured image (top of page): Oscars lined up for the Academy Awards.

Authored by Amber Michelle

The 19th Century red enamel heart pendant, worn by Lana Del Rey at the 2024 Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala, courtesy Fred Leighton.