It wasn’t supposed to be about the dresses.
Anyone who watched the 2018 Golden Globe Awards knows that this season guests were encouraged to wear black and dress in solidarity with the Time's Up movement.
Started by key Hollywood players like America Ferrera, Eva Longoria, Reese Witherspoon, and Shonda Rhimes, the movement is a call for action against systemic sexual assault, harassment, and inequality in the workplace across all industries.
On the red carpet, this movement was expected to be the talking point for most attendees.
At the top of E!s broadcast, host Guiliana Rancic declared that tonight the question of the evening would be “why are you wearing black,” not “who are you wearing?”
Rancic and co-host Ryan Seacrest did, in fact, ask many women this question and, as many have pointed out, avoided asking men the same.
That failing aside, as Robin Givhan wrote for the Washington Post, “the goal was to replace the red carpet fashion conversation with one about gender equity and workplace safety. And mostly, it did.”
But here’s where the demonstration fell short.
If the thought process behind wearing black was to make sure no one asked about the dress itself...why wear a dress at all? Why not an actual uniform of sorts.
The answer? Because at the end of the day, it is about the dress... at least a little bit. And that should be okay.
On paper, this all-black red carpet protest seemed like a great idea: No fashion talk, all politics. And it did indeed play out that way. But when the red carpet becomes a protest ground, clothing choices should not be swept under the rug. Clothes make a statement, too. And here was a chance to make them deliberately, purposefully and to celebrate them.
To this day, most of fashion’s big design houses are still led by men. This Golden Globes broadcast would have an opportunity to highlight the few womenswear brands that are actually run by women.
Stella McCartney dressed Claire Foy and Hong Chau, while Sadie Sink and Diane Kruger wore Miu Miu and Prada, both designed by Miuccia Prada.
Dior Haute Couture, designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri (the brand’s first ever female creative director!) dressed Natalie Portman, Sally Hawkins, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Biel, and Elisabeth Moss.
Would this not have been the perfect time for actresses to proudly declare they are wearing a gown created by a proud feminist designer if that's the case?
If asked “Who are you wearing,” would that not have been an ideal moment for Sarah Paulson and Millie Bobby Brown to point out that Calvin Klein is the only brand that’s made a substantial financial contribution to the Time’s Up Legal defense fund?
“Maybe the decision to stay mum about fashion on the red carpet was an over-correction,” writes Givahn. I call it a mistake. This idea that a woman cannot discuss politics and fashion in the same breath is absurd. As Alyssa Vingan Klein of Fashionista writes, “the subtext here [is] troubling, as it essentially wrote fashion off as frivolous.”
But fashion does not have to be vapid.
Take Marc Jacobs who included a statement from Tracee Ellis Ross with their dressing press release. “We wear black to join with the voices of ALL women, particularly women of color, LGBTQX women, disabled women and all other women who have been disproportionately affected by sexual violence,” it read in part. “TIMES UP on discrimination, harassment and abuse.”
Brands that support the Time’s Up movement, and displays of female leadership should be supported and the 2018 Golden Globes red carpet would have been the place start.
Highlight companies like Forevermark, Sachin & Babi, Shiffon, and Prabal Gurung, who are also donating to Times Up. Discuss the movement, of course — please don’t stop — but also give these brands the props they deserve.
And for goodness' sake, please give women an opportunity to be the multifaceted, thoughtful, human beings that we are. One point does not have to cancel out the other.
It wasn’t about the dresses, this Golden Globes season, but maybe, in part, it should have been.
This story first appeared on ELLE.com.
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