Since its creation in 1902, the red carpet has been synonymous with luxury, glamour and privilege. Clothes worn at events such as the Oscars, the Met Gala and the Golden Globes are often at the forefront of media speculation with millions of viewers waiting to see what the latest celebrities and designers have to offer.
In the current political climate, it is important to assess the consequences of celebrity fashion, red carpet culture and the values that they convey to the general public.
Red carpets host the biggest names in music, film, fashion and more, who are arguably some of the most privileged members of society- so should their garments act as catalyst for conversation about current affairs and social issues?
The 2018 Golden Globes red carpet is a key example of how celebrities have used their spotlight to raise awareness about social issues. As a response to the Harvey Weinstein case and the #MeToo Movement, Time’s Up was born. The charity, founded by over 300 women in Hollywood, raises money to support victims of sexual harassment and highlight gender inequality in entertainment.
At the 2018 Golden Globes, attendees wore black to promote Time’s Up and show solidarity for victims of sexual misconduct. Other celebrities also adorned “Times Up” pins to show their support for the movement.
Despite many celebrities taking this approach, some were louder than others. Connie Britton made a bold statement with her black ensemble, designed by Lingua Franca.
In her essay for Entertainment Weekly, she wrote “Sunday’s Golden Globe awards sent an important message about how women are treated in this country, and how an imperative sea change is happening now. Like my fellow actors, directors, and producers, I dressed in black in solidarity to acknowledge that it is time for women and men to empower ourselves with equality.”
“I proudly wore a sweater embroidered with the words ‘poverty is sexist’ because nowhere in the world are women economically equal to men, nor do they have the same economic opportunities as men — and that inequality is even worse for girls and women in the world’s poorest countries,” she continued. Connie Britton
By showing their solidarity, all of these Hollywood stars used their platform to highlight the epidemic of sexual misconduct across Hollywood and gender inequality across the globe.
A year on from the 2018 Golden Globes, Laverne Cox raised awareness for the LGBTQ+ community and Transgender rights at the 2019 Emmys.
Whilst her outfit was seemingly non-political, her accessories highlighted LGBTQ+ discrimination within the Trump administration. Cox’s custom Eddie Parker rainbow purse read “Oct. 8, Title VII, Supreme Court” in reference to efforts to legalise the ability for employers to fire workers based on gender identity or presentation.
In an interview with E! on the red carpet, Cox stated that her look was “about raising awareness so everyone knows that our lives are in danger.” Furthermore, she highlighted “a lot of people aren’t talking about this case and it has implications for the LGBT community.”
The red carpet as a platform for change…
From these examples, it is clear that some celebrities are actively using their platforms on the red carpet to raise awareness about social issues. Nevertheless, there are still more stories to be heard. With the Golden Globes reaching 20 million viewers in 2017, it is important for celebrities and designers to work together to maximise their social and political impact on their viewership and start a conversation.
To answer the question, “should celebrities use the red carpet to raise awareness of important social Issues?”, the answer for me is undoubtably yes. But it’s not just celebrities who need to get to work – it’s the designers, the management teams, the stylists who also need to strive to educate and raise awareness.
Fashion has always been about storytelling and reflecting vision- however, now is the time for the red carpet to highlight the vision and lived experiences of all people, not just Hollywood’s elite.