swoopy hair

Why Does the Oscars Set Look Like a Wig?

The 2019 Oscars stage.
The 2019 Oscars stage. Photo: Michael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

The 2019 Oscars are underway, and the night was only just beginning when we became a little bit distracted. Was the stage wrapped in a large, shiny, golden mass … of hair? It looked like Rapunzel’s hair in Tangled before her big chop. It looked how Donald Trump probably thinks his hair looks. This left many people wondering: Why? What was the intent? Was the stage made to honor great hair of films past?

It wasn’t, in fact. It was actually supposed to be a message of inclusivity, according to the set designer, David Korins.

“I took a long, hard look at the world, and regardless of where you stand [politically], it’s pretty clear that there are a lot of hard-lined lines in the sand,” Korins told Architectural Digest the Friday before the Oscars aired. “There’s a lot of rectilinear and rigid thinking and there’s a lot of ups and downs, and I wanted to make something that was a distinct statement about inclusion. There’s almost not a [single] straight line onstage and [in] the entire design.”

“We have built an installation of an incredibly soft, beautiful, sweeping, asymmetrical portal that wraps literally out into the audience, covers the opera boxes, and hugs the audience,” Korins continued. “It is a statement of inclusion, it’s a statement about community in the room and then also reaching out through the camera with the different kinds of immersive angles.”

So it’s supposed to be a wistful manifestation of our ability to … see both sides, maybe? Have less rigid borders? Have an awards show with no host or very little structure?

Whatever inclusion Korins was going for, he got to craft his message with Swarovski crystals: The hairlike set piece was actually called the “Crystal Swag,” and it is a three-story-high, 54-foot-wide piece of art, one of four that Swarovski helped create for the awards show. Korins said that the design was a real challenge, and “there is no linear written narrative — we get to make a real statement about what we see in the world and what we hope for the world.”

Why Does the Oscars Set Look Like a Wig?