When in doubt, wear black. So goes one of the oldest style adages of them all. But for Hollywood’s Golden Globes-attending women what should have been one of the simplest dress codes turned out to be more complex than any of them could have imagined.
They were protesting sexual harassment with their sombre (but also very chic) choice of hue, yet confusion reigned as to what the exact messaging of the fashion blackout was meant to be.
“This is a moment of solidarity not a fashion moment,” Eva Longoria had insisted earlier in the week. “This time the industry can’t expect us to go up and twirl around.” Meanwhile, on the red carpet, Catherine Zeta Jones declared: “’The dress code didn’t say anything about not looking our best.’ Clearly, opinion was so divided on what being’ best-dressed’ or ‘worst-dressed’ actually meant in this new post-Weinstein era that everyone got it right and everyone got it wrong.
In one corner, we had the modesty crew whose choices chimed with the recent catwalk trend for demure dressing. Alicia Vikander opted for beaded Victoriana gown by Louis Vuitton- buttoned right up to the neck at the front but with a slash at the back. Michelle Pfeiffer was equally refined in a neat jacket and floor-sweeping skirt by Dior. While some saw this as them kowtowing to the idea that women should cover up to avoid sexual harassment others applauded them for striking the right note for showing a restrained approach.
Then, there were the tuxedos. Despite years of women looking fabulous in tailoring, wearing a suit still says ‘dressing like a man’. Claire Foy and Susan Sarandon were sleekly polished in Stella McCartney and Saint Laurent, respectively, with Foy’s look so popular it even had its own Twitter account by the morning. But does appropriating the uniform of the patriarchy (Weinstein would have worn a black suit too) play well when you are protesting the behaviour of (some) men? Gah!
Finally, there were the women who did black, sure, but with lots of sheer panels, cut-outs and legs and cleavage showing. From Kate Hudson’s navel-grazing, knicker flashing Valentino to Zeta Jones’ in tulle Zuhair Murad, this was maxed-out, skin-baring glamour, just as if it was any other red carpet. But then this was not any other red carpet.
As worthwhile as the actresses’ protest dressing might have been, the strategy didn’t stop us all from judging, even just a little bit. How could we not? Whether it was a suit, sheer mini, or black dress abstainer (just three in total) everyone still had something to say about what did become a Hollywood fashion moment.