It’s Academy Awards season, and there’s a lot to look forward to for Sunday’s lineup: fashion, surprise winners, the golden statues, and one of the longest-standing traditions of the cinema award show: The Red Carpet.
The scarlet walkway has been rolled out through centuries for only the most beloved and worshiped humans, dating as far back as Ancient Greece, beginning with Aeschylus’ trilogy of plays Oresteia. In the first play, Agamemnon, the King is welcomed back to Greece after his battle at Troy by his evil wife Clytemnestra, who lays out red robes for him to walk on as he heads toward the castle. (Little does the King know that would be his last grand entrance, though: Clytemnestra winds up murdering her husband and his mistress Cassandra in a bloody bathtub stabbing.)
From those harsh beginnings was born the glamor of red carpets. The Pope is often greeted at new destinations with a red runway, royal weddings are typically decked out in red, and political dignitaries are honored with a red walkway to strut on. But, the most iconic place to find a red carpet is on Hollywood Boulevard.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Oscars red carpet is 50,000 square feet and takes over 900 man-hours to install. Flooring company Signature Systems Group, based out of Santa Fe Springs, California, has been responsible for laying out the carpet for the past nine years.
Signature Systems purchases the nylon-based carpet from a factory in Georgia where it is rolled into 630-pound spindles. The company needs about 30 rolls to cover the job. Though they are secretive about certain aspects of the material, they do reveal that the particular shade — exclusively reserved for the event — is called Academy Red. But, the exact color code of the shade is kept under wraps.
The main goals for the crew as they lay out the material are to make it as wrinkle-free as possible so our precious celebrities don’t have an embarrassing trip — an accident like that could get the company fired. It takes a forklift, over a dozen men, and a lot of sweat to lay out the massive carpet.
Once complete, people will begin to fill the stands, careful not to touch the sacred rugs or they risk being scolded or even escorted out by security guards.
When it’s all over, the carpet is rolled back up never to be used again. Signature Systems says it’s destroyed, though they don’t reveal how. In short: We don’t really know what the red carpet is made of. But it’s an emblem of celebrity and wealth that is timeless.