Red carpets, nowadays, are synonymous with glamour, glitz and fashion. Red is the colour of importance and revelry as the red carmine dye was very expensive and used to represent deities, saints and royalty. The red carpet as the way we know it takes its colour from the revered reds of the past. It is now the walkway of film royalty into premieres. These carpets are used for the stars to make a grand entrance and showcase their clothes. But, in the case of most women, not always about their illustrious achievements but more simply on what they’re wearing. Hence, why feminism may need a roll-out on our red carpets.
As well as being under huge pressure to perform perfectly for the cameras, Viola Davis said that “Every time you walk that carpet, the pressure [is] to be your authentic self, but at the same time not stick out… That balance is something we are all trying to reach when we walk out the door every day. How do we fit in, but be ourselves and be true to ourselves?” Whilst fashion is, a way to be your authentic self, stars are faced with huge criticism if what they wear is disliked by the media. So naturally, some stars are more subtle with their choice of clothing. However this is often met with more scrutiny of being forgettable.
Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the people that are criticised the most are women. Most Male actors simply wear a suit and are done with it – another highlighting of the need for feminism on the red carpet, why do we not also value men for their fashion choices? However there are so many hurdles for women to jump through, striking the right balance so as not to be called too revealing, too prudish, too bold, not memorable, wearing awful colours or simply too bland. This, then, poses the question are red carpets in need of more feminism? The answer, in my opinion, is of course.
Does bad Fashion trump an Invitation?
“Fashion, in its purest, most fun sense, the sense that allows a woman to enjoy being a woman and to have a bit of self-expression through clothes, is perfectly feminist.” Hadley Freeman, a fashion writer for the Guardian hits the nail on the head perfectly, about what is right with the approach to women in fashion on the red carpet. Unfortunately, it is not so easy. For example, in 2015, a group of women in their 50s were turned away from the red carpet’s screening of Carol, for wearing and I quote ‘rhinestone flats’.
As someone who’s been to a few teenage birthday parties in my former years, I can tell you that whilst rhinestone flats are not always the most fashionable, they are no reason to turn people away from an event. Mainly because surely, it shouldn’t matter that much what shoes people wear to an event they’ll be sat down at most of the time.
Ask Her More
This, as well as many other things, sparked the Ask her more campaign, in which instead of being asked about their clothes, women should be asked about their professional pursuits and accomplishments, as their male counterparts are. This gained traction through women hitting back at reporters asking who or what they’re wearing, which was quickly turned on its head by reporters no longer being fixated on what these women are wearing but on the hard work they’d put into the films. Good and interesting questions became trendier than finding out about what women were wearing. Thus, the rolling out of feminism began in the Industry, with women taking a stand for themselves.
Then, in 2017, the MeToo movement shook the world from within the film industry, and the ripple effects hit every aspect of filmmaking, including fashion on the red carpet. For the 2018 Golden Globes, almost every celebrity wore black. When asked why Ava DuVernay tweeted “I am wearing black today because balance and inclusion and diversity is not some kind of allowance to be made to accommodate people. No, sir. It is a correction of an error. It is a righting of a wrong. And it is going to be done. Now.”
This incredible use of fashion to condemn the sexual harassment and assault of women in Hollywood and all industries was ground-breaking. When they were asked why they were wearing black, celebrities could talk about their own experiences of sexual misconduct and being feminist in the industry, sparking a wider narrative of people being able to stand up and say, ‘me too’.
Whilst Fashion is always changing and evolving, from the ground-breaking and enticing designer outfits on the red carpet to the clothes that we see splashed on Instagram and Pinterest, these movements show that fashion is so important in showing that women are more than just dresses and looking pretty, but multi-faceted human beings with brilliant opinions and so much more to talk about than their clothes. I hope that Feminism will continue to permeate the film and every industry, on the long, long road to equality. For us, dear readers, I think the takeaway should be that we should dress however makes us happy, if you’re going to grace the red carpets or the carpets of a coffee shop, to look however you want and feel good doing it.