Rivers Keynote Leaves Them Laughing

Comedian and red-carpet-fashion commentator Joan Rivers had an audience of some 500 jewelers, vendors, and guests laughing to the point of tears with her June 3 keynote talk, “From the Red Carpet: All Eyes on Style and Trends,” which opened the 15th annual JCK Show ~ Las Vegas. The line of people waiting to hear her in the Delfino ballroom in the Venetian Hotel was already long half an hour before the doors opened. Rivers is well-known for her televised commentaries and chats with the stars on the red carpet before the Oscars ceremonies and other celebrity events.

Rivers opened with a brief history of “red carpet”—a term first found in an ancient Greek play. A red carpet was used in the 1920s as the entry carpet at Hollywood’s famous Graumann Chinese Theater and later for the Academy Awards. “So, there was a red carpet even before there were red carpet events,” Rivers said.

She quickly moved into what she’s best known for today—amusing, often ribald commentary on the fashion sense of the celebrities who walk the red carpet at the annual Academy Awards. Her comments left her audience often holding their sides with laughter. Referring to photographs from past Oscars and other awards ceremonies projected on two huge screens, she verbally dissected what a variety of TV and movie stars wore in recent years. “That dress looks like a Disney character threw up on it,” she said—in one of her milder criticisms—about one women’s multicolored minidress.

But it wasn’t all critique. Rivers also presented a series of photos (usually the same celebrities) called “Stars Who Have Learnt,” showing how their fashion sense had greatly improved over the years. One star, though, who has almost always shown good fashion sense and been stylish, said Rivers, was her friend Sharon Stone.

If there was one point that Rivers wanted her audience of jewelry industry professionals to take away from her talk, it was a serious one. “It’s not the gown,” she said, “but what’s put on and around it that’s important. It’s the accessories, the jewelry that make a dress.”