Five Times Red Carpet Fashion Fuelled Positive Change

The glitz, the glamour, and the global effect A-listers have on the public is monumental. This is a result of our modern-day digitalised society – we can’t get enough of these celebs! We want to know what they are doing, are wearing, and why?


Red carpet events are a particularly good example of this as the spotlight is on these celebs. They need to make a lasting impression. Are red carpet events just a platform for the stars to show off wealth beyond our imagination? Or do celebs often use red carpet fashion to promote their beliefs and drive towards a positive direction?


Five times your favourite stars used fashion on the red carpet to promote change.

‘Flesh is Flesh’ – Video Music Awards (VMAs), 2010


Although it was more than a decade ago, we all remember Lady Gaga’s controversial Alexander McQueen ‘meat dress’ in the 2010 VMAs.


Many described the dress as ‘culturally iconic’. Yet, Gaga explained in several interviews that the dress itself conveyed a powerful political statement because it showcased her stance on the U.S. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy. The vegan popstar linked the 2010 red carpet look to her speech ‘The Prime Rib of America’. This urged the US military not to discriminate against gay men and lesbians from serving in the army.


Gaga argued that it should not matter what your sexual orientation was, because if you are willing to give up life for your country then “Flesh is Flesh”. Hence, the meat dress was symbolic as a sign of protest.

The Black Out – Golden Globe Awards, 2018


The 2018 Golden Globe Awards saw the women of Hollywood using fashion and their global spotlight in the red carpet correctly. The celebrities showed unity in raising awareness of the ‘Time’s Up’ movement. This is a global protest against sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. The movement is a solution-based, action-oriented next step in the revolutionary #MeToo movement.


Hundreds of celebrities including Hollywood royalty, Meryl Steep took the opportunity at the awards to wear the colour black. This represented the ‘Black out’ of the red carpet. It served as an act of solidarity against sexual misconduct, whilst also displayed an act of unity towards the victims of sexual harassment.


This is a perfect example of how celebrities can empower others and be the leading voice for millions through something as simple as the colour of their dress. It represents the power in cohesion and influence that these stars and fashion can have on the rest of the world.


One Word Needed – British Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs), 2020


Grammy award-winning singer, Melissa Viviane Jefferson, most commonly known as ‘Lizzo’ let her fashion do the talking on the red carpet. She wore a custom made black Christian Siriano dress with the one word, ‘vote’ printed all over it in capital, block letters.


This red carpet look portrayed a clear message from the artist. It aimed to encourage fans to vote and have their voices heard in the 2020 US presidential election.


Lizzo emphasised on suppression in her acceptance speech as she stated:

“So whether it’s through music, protest, or your right to vote, use your power, use your voice, and refuse to be suppressed.” - Lizzo

This is another example of a celeb using their platform for good. A reminder to vote for millions of fans could make a substantial difference.


Spelling it out – Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, 2017


A couple who displayed a strong pro-immigrant message at the SAG awards were Big Bang Theory star, Simon Helberg and his wife, actor Jocelyn Towne. Helberg held a sign that read ‘Refugees welcome’ whilst the actress had ‘Let them in’ written over her chest. This touching act reminds everyone of the real problems going on in the country.


These political statements exhibited was a show of solidarity against former President Donald Trump’s executive orders. This was severely important because this order would result in refugees from war-torn countries to be detained at US airports.


Helberg had previously shown opposition to Trump but using his platform to showcase his support for the refugees in such a forward way was an admirable move from the couple.


Accessory is key – Emmy Awards, 2019


American actress and LGBTQ+ advocate, Laverne Cox took the red carpet by storm in a single shouldered Monsoori gown. However, the key talking point about was Cox’s colourful accessory. The Eddie Parker clutch designed by Cox featured the rainbow flag with the writing #TRANSISBEAUTIFUL, promoting equality for the LGBTQ+ community.


The other side of the accessory displayed details that read ‘Oct 8, Title VII, Supreme Court’. In an interview, Cox and her date, lawyer Chase Strangio, explained the significance of the date as it referred to an upcoming Supreme Court case.


The case would determine whether it would be legal to dismiss workers solely on the basis of their sexual identity. The actor and the ACLU lawyer urged fans to show up and spread awareness about the case with #RiseUpOctober8.


As hundreds rallied for transgender rights, the case was dismissed. Another victory worth celebrating!


Did these fashion statements fuel change?


The simple answer is yes.


It may come as no surprise that celebrities with millions of supporters can promote changes successfully. This is because their loyal fans will get behind the causes their idols are advocating for.

In the instance of Gaga’s case, after thousands of letters, emails and calls from members and supporters, victory was achieved. DADT was repealed on September 20, 2011.


This means regardless of your sexual orientation, you are welcome to be part of the military. Additionally, the stars of Golden Globes 2018 did not just use fashion to raise awareness but raised funding for victims. The Time’s Up legal defend fund has raised over $15 million to aid those who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.


A great example of fashion promoting feminism and equality. An article to further explore the relationship between the two can be found here.


Best dress does not equal best dressed


The best looks are not the ones which took the longest to create. Or those that cost the most. The best dressed should be a title given to admirable celebrities who use red carpet fashion and their powerful influence to promote a positive change in our society.