The Recessionista Visits the Oscar Jewelry and Gift Suites

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Pictured: A selection of beautiful bling for the Oscar attendees to select to be worn on the Red Carpet from StyleLab’s Jewelry Suite.  

Its a terrible investigative job, but clearly it needed to be undertaken. Never one to shrink from a challenge, The Recessionista ventured into the “other side”, the luxury side of the Oscars, visiting a secret jewelry suite hidden away somewhere in Beverly Hills and later the GBK productions Oscar gift suites. Being an Oscar nominee means you might not have time to shop or select the special jewelry and accessories that you might need for your red carpet walk.  After all, the eyes of the world will be watching and the attendees really do need to look their best.  No one wants to be ridiculed by the alleged “style police” and suffer the sting of unkind commentators ready to pounce. That’s why Stylelab assembles a fine assortment of unique jewelry pieces and displays them each year pre-Oscars at a private hotel suite.  The stars’ stylists can visit the suite privately, speak to style expert Michael O’Connor and select from the stunning collection of jewelry from Neil Lane, Erica Courtney and Mark Lash to add sparkle to their red carpet attire. StyleLab’s jewelry suite offered a dazzling collection of modern and vintage pieces.  The vintage styles looked like they would’ve been favorites of Grace Kelly or Jacqueline Kennedy.  Take a look at this beautiful ruby rose brooch.

Pictured: A gorgeous ruby and diamond brooch that reminds me of a piece Jackie Kennedy wore.

 I asked stylist Michael O’Connor what trends we could expect to see on the red carpet this year. Michael notes, “There will be lots of color, with a focus on 40s and 50s glamour.  You’ll see pieces with lots of movement plus vintage looking cocktail rings.”   To see what Michael is talking about, take a look at this amazing vintage, fluid, Butterfly pin.

 Pictured: Michael O’Connor holds a brilliant butterfly brooch.  I wonder if we’ll see this one on Sunday. (Photo by Maggie Read Photography)

However,  Michael predicts that the pieces that will be the most sought after will be diamonds, a girl’s best friend.  On display at the suite today were stunning diamond statement necklaces like the one below.  I’d love to see this on Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep. It’s as show stopping as their well-crafted performances.

Pictured: A unique diamond statement necklace. (Photo by Maggie Read Photography)

On the other side of Tinseltown, Oscar Gift Suites are being held by GBK productions.  Gift or SWAG bags used to be part of the star’s Oscar perks. All over Los Angeles, there are elite gift suites set up in hotels for Academy Award nominees, presenters and selected VIPs.  Traditionally, the suites offer pricey and luxurious gifts from sponsors for the stars to pick up free of charge as gifts.  Of course the sponsors hope that the stars will be photographed wearing the products, or talk about their love for them.  But when the IRS started the practice of taxing the “goodie” bags, the stars started the practice of donating them.  Today, many stars donate their gift items to help charity rather than to use the goods themselves.

Pictured: Inside the Oscar gift suite at the W Hollywood, the scene is very similar to that of a trade show. (Photo by Maggie Read Photography)

One of  this year’s Oscar gift suites is taking place at the W Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard. Celebrities,  VIPS, A-listers and select media were invited to check out the suite and the assortment of gifts. To help charity, and specifically Haiti, 20% of the proceeds for the gift suites and 2 gift bags valued at $40,000 each, will be donated to various charities. Celebrities sighted at the W suites today included the great Angela Basset, Precious star Gabby Sidibe (who donated her gift bag to charity) and Sigourney Weaver.  Project Runway contestant Gordana Gehlhausen, from last season, was present at the gift suite today showing off some of her designs.  Asked if she had any style advice for recessionistas, Gordanna said, “Pick a favorite piece from your closet, and dress it up with a great piece of jewelry, like a necklace.” Check out Gordanna below with her top and statement necklace.

Pictured: Project Runway designer Gordana Gehlhausen is showing some of her designs at the W Oscar gift suites.  (Photo by Maggie Read Photography)
Pictured: Some of designer Gordana Gehlhausen post Project Runway  design work (Photo by Maggie Read Photography)

Amid the traditional gift suite items like jewelry, resort trips and spa treatments, a few surprises were thrown in.  A new daily supplement called Prevennia (not FDA approved), that is designed to prevent deadly breast gene mutation to inhibit cancer was prominently displayed.  According to Gavin Keily, CEO of GBK productions, tech gadgets are another new addition to the gift bags. One example is the Beamz Interactive Music system. Beamz lets users play music without being able to read music. Beamz product has six laser triggers and two button-controlled triggers that activate 100 plus instruments, chords, music clips, sounds effects and rhythms. Each laser is programmed to trigger these different melodies, sounds or instruments. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds intriguing.

The whole Oscar gift suite phenomenon is intriguing. Imagine, giving to people who could afford to buy the stuff, but don’t have to in exchange for marketing.  According to The Daily Beast, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin was seen making the rounds at one of the gift suites and raiding them.  Apparently, she got some good practice picking up stuff from the wardrobe she acquired for the Republican Convention and other events. Props to Gabby Sidibe for donating all her goodies to charity. That’s style!


Since 2008, Mary Hall has been the author of The Recessionista Blog, which is read by thousands of regular readers in over 160 countries. An internationally recognized expert on the art of the living the good life for less, she has been a commentator on local, national, and international radio and TV shows. Her advice has been featured in over 2,000 media outlets, including The New York Times, Reuters, Life & Style magazine, ABC News, NBC News and now The Huffington Post, among many others.