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Star Wars Premiers last night in London, but what’s the story behind the VIP red carpet?

UK Star Wars “The Force Awakens” premiere: On the red carpet in Leicester Square with Christian Baring. 

But what’s the story behind using a red carpet – and why? 


All images: Christian Baring

The Force Awakens has already been described as a classic and a triumph. But this has raised the question, why have a red carpet? Why not have any other colour at your VIP events? 

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A red carpet is traditionally used to mark the route taken by heads of state on ceremonial and formal occasions, and has in recent decades been extended to use by VIPs and celebrities at formal events.  

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Harrison Ford last night, by Christan Baring 


The earliest known reference to walking a red carpet in literature is in the play Agamemnon by Aeschylus, written in 458 BC. When the title character returns from Troy, he is greeted by his vengeful wife Clytemnestra who offers him a red path to walk upon:

“Now my beloved, step down from your chariot, and let not your foot, my lord, touch the Earth. Servants, let there be spread before the house he never expected to see, where Justice leads him in, a crimson path.”

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Agamemnon, knowing that only gods walk on such luxury, responds with trepidation:
“I am a mortal, a man; I cannot trample upon these tinted splendors without fear thrown in my path.”


Oriental carpets in Renaissance painting often show rugs and carpets, patterned but with red often the main background colour, laid on the steps to a throne, or on a dais where rulers or sacred figures are placed.

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A red carpet was rolled out to a river to welcome the arrival of United States president James Monroe in 1821.In 1902, The New York Central Railroad used plush crimson carpets to direct people as they boarded their 20th Century Limited passenger train. This is believed to be the origin of the phrase “red-carpet treatment”. Film premieres are often laid down with red carpets.

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There you go readers – you learn something new every day!
All images Christian Baring 

Visit Instagram @christianbaring 

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