Here come the Oscars! Here come the starlets! And here come the gobs and gobs of jewelry.
See that A-lister? See those earrings she’s wearing? $150,000.
That bracelet? $50,000—no, wait…a million.
Think we’re talking about the retail price? Nope. Those are the fees that major actresses tend to charge—as in, ask for— to wear a particular brand of gown or jewelry on Hollywood’s biggest night.
You may think that the Oscars are an expense for an actress. After all, there are dresses to squeeze into, updos to be did, limos to book. But in truth, the Academy Awards tend to leave actors not in the red, but in the black. Like, the deep, deep black. When it comes to Oscar season, an A-list actress can clear $1 million a night just by renting out her body as, for lack of a better description, a very expensive clothes hanger.
To be clear, we’re not talking about jewels or dresses worn as part of a long-term endorsement deal. Yes, the reason why Jennifer Lawrence trips over so many Dior hemlines is that she’s the face of Dior. She’s expected to wear Dior gowns at major events as part of a three-year, $15-million deal, which also includes print magazine ads.
But increasingly, stars also are cutting one-time deals on the side, usually to wear a piece of jewelry or two at a shindig such as the Golden Globes or Oscars. It’s been going on since at least the early 2000s, when Halle Berry charged $50,000 to wear Bulgari to the Academy Awards.
She was paid in cash—in $100 bills, to be exact.
Cut to today, and the practice has become almost commonplace.
“With diamonds,” sighs fashion publicist Serene Cicora, who represents the jewelry brand Lucie, “that’s the first question [a celebrity] asks: Are the jewelers willing to pay? But then again, these are the Academy Awards. We know that, exposure-wise, this is the holy grail.”
Just how much have celebrities or their reps been seeking for the 2015 ceremony? Cicora has heard quotes ranging from $5,000 to $100,000. However, A-list actresses have reportedly charged much more and for years. Anne Hathaway reportedly got $750,000 to wear Tiffany jewels to an Oscar night in 2011; fellow A-lister Gwyneth Paltrow allegedly scored $500,000 to wear Louis Vuitton jewels on the same night. By 2012, Paltrow’s fee apparently doubled; Vanity Fair has said that that Chinese jewelry designer Anna Hu paid the actress $1 million to wear a single diamond cuff to that year’s Oscars. (Representatives for both actresses have denied the reports about the 2011 show.)
All that said, not every designer is known to pay for play. Veteran jeweler Martin Katz has told me that he’s never paid for a star to wear his creations, and every year, indeed, there’s at least one major star wearing a Martin Katz bauble.
Conversely, some stars also consider their bodies to be ad-free zones…at least, on red carpets.
“There are also some very well known celebrities—Angelina Jolie and Oprah Winfrey come to mind—who will not get paid to wear things,” says stylist Michael O’Connor, who counsels stars on their awards-season looks every year. “I can assure you: I’ve styled some major winners, and I have yet to be asked by them about being paid to wear jewelry.”
Find out if it was all worth it. Watch the 88th Academy Awards on February 28 at 8:30 p.m. ET on CTV.