Perhaps one of the best examples comes from the première dame of high-low fashion: stylist Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele. The famed French stylist famously put model Michaela Bercu on the cover of the November 1988 issue of Vogue, wearing a bejeweled Christian Lacroix cropped black sweater and a pair of stone-washed Guess jeans. Denim, to Cerf de Dudzeele, is the perfect canvas for flashy variables like a great bag or piece of glinting jewelry, afterwards. In a fantastic Moda Operandi in a series titled Fashion Firsts, Cerf de Dudzeele recalls that styling moment and speaks about jeans as if they are the lifeforce of the wardrobe, yelling: “This is the way that people wear this…la vie!”
Cerf de Dudzeele makes a fantastic point. Jeans are what many people wear to navigate their day-to-day lives—celebrity or otherwise. So, when someone wears them on the red carpet, they are truly bringing a level of unbothered success to a meticulous space where custom made, overly styled looks are expected. It’s the inverse of wearing a really great, expensive bag with an everyday look, like Mary-Kate Olsen and her beat-up Hermès Kelly bag. Like Olsen—who has nothing to prove and wears her very expensive but busted bag to get a Starbucks—Holmes showed that red carpets are just another banal moment in her life. In Russell’s case, she proved that she has the utmost confidence—a must-have in Hollywood. A great red carpet dress is powerful, but a pair of denim jeans? That’s power dressing.