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The Year The Red Carpet Became Green

Red carpet fashion is a feature as old as Hollywood itself, but in the past year, stars have swapped premiers for quarantine. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world an unimaginable amount. Even a simple trip to the hairdressers became impossible, so of course red carpets with hundreds of stars, countless stylists, and paparazzi were a no go.

2020 and 2021 may be the years that change red carpet fashion forever. No longer could celebrities be surrounded by a squad of makeup artists or fly to a fashion house to commission couture dresses…

When two of the leading countries in the world of fashion manufacturing, China and Italy, shut down at the start of 2020, to avoid an increase in the spread of infections, there was also a sharp decrease in shipping, air miles, waste and carbon emissions.

The world’s eyes were opened to just how damaging the impact of the fashion industry has. Clearly change was needed, and this worldwide crisis may have been the starting point. Sustainability became a buzz word, with the BAFTAs making a sustainable fashion the theme for 2021.

Online events and alternative choices

Another major shift was, as awards ceremonies took place online, many celebs began to tone down the glam and splash less cash. Many realised it may be distasteful for millionaire movie stars to parade around their houses in designer gowns whilst millions have lost their livelihoods. So, it was time for changes on the red carpet.

“It’s important to be mindful of the tone of what we’re putting on there and be conscious of the fact that people are facing real struggles.” Avo Yermagyan, celebrity stylist

Of course, fashion can be a form of escapism, and it is unrealistic to cancel red carpet events completely. In the current climate, any distraction from everyday life is a welcome break. For many, it is important to be able to unpick fashion choices of red carpet events. But how can we enjoy the high glamour without impacting on the earth?

Rewear, recycle and rework

With production still slowed down and everyone’s mind increasingly open to the dangers of climate change, 2020 was a starting point for many celebs to get innovative and shop sustainably. Celebrities like the award-winning actress, Tiffany Haddish, are leading the trail away from the “wear it once” rule.

She has continued to wear her expensive 2017 Alexander McQueen gown eight times, including in 2021, breaking Hollywood’s unwritten ban on outfit repeating. Each time, she styled it with differing hair, makeup and accessories, showing that its possible to be innovative and unique without buying a whole new gown for every event.

Jane Fonda also had a recycled fashion moment with her 25-year-old classic white trouser suit which she wore to the Golden Globes in February 2021 – a chic example of counteracting the throwaway culture of the fashion industry.

Another sustainable twist in this year’s fashion trends was new dresses made from recycled materials. With more and more consciousness of the fashion industry’s effect on pollution and waste, many designers are opting for more eco-friendly creations.

At the Oscars in 2020, Saoirse Ronan wore a stunning black gown using only fabric upcycled from her BAFTAs dress. Others opted for ethical brands and low impact materials, such as organic cotton.

Vintage was another popular way to support sustainability and many stars stepped out in decades old classic gowns in a nod to ethical consumption and the importance of recycling. Zendaya chose a Versace vintage number from 1996, and set a positive example for the younger generation of fashion fans.

The fashion industry’s preoccupation with newness has a worrying effect on the planet, with an estimated 92 million tons of textile waste per year making it to landfill and polluting the earth. This recent trend for vintage gowns is an excellent way to continue classic red-carpet glamour without adding to the already damaging level of waste.

A sustainable fashion future?

It’s clear that, in order to have a more sustainable future, celebrities need to light the way towards a greener fashion industry, and iconic red carpet events are the perfect chance to be that positive example.

Changing the way the celebrity fashion industry works doesn’t signal the end of the glitz and glamour, rather, shopping sustainably can encourage innovation and creativity.

Millions of people tune in to these events every year, and perhaps they will become a platform towards green fashion choices?


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