The Oscars have broken tradition for the first time in over six decades – why is the red carpet not red this year?

Red is out. Champagne is in. Here’s what we know about the Oscars 2023 Champagne carpet…

Champagne carpet at the 2023 oscars
(Image credit: Getty)

The Oscars 2023 is underway – and be sure to keep up with all the latest with our live blog – and people are already talking about the same surprising thing…

It’s not quite on the level of *the slap* but it is quite the departure. After all, we’re used to certain facts of life. The sky is blue. The grass is green. And fashion red carpets are, well, red.

But tonight, the Oscars have swapped the bold hue they've used since 1961 - which is officially known as Academy Red - for a soft champagne color. 

Referencing Will Smith’s slap – because how could one not - host Jimmy Kimmel offered up one explanation why the carpet has changed for the first time since 1961.

Halle Berry looks stunning on the Oscars 2023 Champagne carpet

(Image credit: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

He joked, "I think the decision to go with a champagne carpet rather than a red carpet shows how confident we are that no blood will be shed.”

This, of course, is not the actual reason. The decision to use the "soothing" and "mellow" tone was a practical one, so that the carpet could easily work for the day-to-night event and not clash with the orange tent that is erected over the carpet to shield the guests from sun or rain.

"We had to first come up with the tent and what color that would be," red carpet creative consultant Lisa Love told Hollywood Reporter.

"In order to block the light, that had to be a darker color. You’ve seen it as a sienna or saffron-colored sienna, which connotes the color of sunset. Where do you see the sunset best? From the sandy beaches with a glass of champagne in your hand. This is about getting ready for the golden hour that follows the show."

Elizabeth Banks stunned on the Champagne carpet

(Image credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

While the change is meant to be helpful to the stars and their sartorial choices, some didn’t get the memo.

Jamie Lee Curtis, who is a first time nominee this year for her work in the popular front-runner Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, tweeted, “Apparently, at the @TheAcademy Oscars, their carpet is going to match my drapes” hilariously referencing her own champagne colored sequin gown.

Fans online have been quick to comment on the change – and they’re all asking the same thing.

How will it stay clean?

One tweeter replied to speculation that the carpet would be impossible to keep clean with a witty pun, calling the color swap “a Dom decision," while others used the color to recycle a classic joke. “Remember it’s only a Champagne carpet if it’s made in a specific region in France, otherwise it’s just a sparkling rug.”

Jamie Lee Curtis matched the Oscars' champagne carpet with her stunning nude sequin dress

(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

When did the tradition of the red carpet begin?

As we contend with a world without an actual red carpet, let’s look back at why it’s always been this way to begin with.

The earliest references to a “red carpet” can be traced back as far as 458BC.

In the Ancient Greek tragedy play The Oresteia, Clytemnestra laid out a red carpet to welcome home her husband, Agamemnon.

Shortly after play was released, many painters began using red carpets in their work to illustrate royalty or wealth.

Closer to home, in Georgetown, South Carolina, in 1821, the arrival of US president James Monroe was marked by the laying out of a red carpet to welcome him ashore from a riverboat. However, it wasn’t until 1902 that the red carpet became a signifier of glamour and wealth for the modern day audience.

A new rail service began running between New York and Chicago and a red carpet was used to guide passengers to their carriage. From then on, a red carpet was seen as a luxurious item and was used at many prestigious events.

When has the red carpet been replaced before?

While the idea of the red carpet denotes the fashionable arrivals before an event, there have been several occasions where it hasn't been red in the past. 

The Met Gala opted for a pink carpet in 2019, a nod to the theme of Camp: Notes on Fashion.

The Met Gala swapped the red carpet for a pink carpet in 2019

(Image credit: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images))

Prince William can consider himself an unlikely trend-setter for the Oscars this year, as he also introduced a different hued carpet for his Earthshot Prize. 

Sticking to the theme of environmentalism, William and Kate welcomed celebrity friends to a green carpet during their important charitable event late last year. 

Prince William and Kate Middleton also went a different way in 2022, swapping the red carpet for a green carpet

(Image credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

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