Red carpet fashion gone green?

Exploring how this year’s Oscars was the most eco-conscious yet

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(Photo courtesy of The Academy's official Facebook page)

By Robyn Cowie, Collegian Correspondent

This year’s award season was heralded as the most eco-conscious yet, with many stars choosing to consider the environment when deciding what they were wearing. Maggie Rogers made a statement at this year’s Grammys when she chose to accessorise her outfit with a reusable water bottle carried in a Chanel case. The British Film and Television Awards even encouraged its attendees to not only make sustainable choices on travelling to the award show but also offered each guest guidelines for what they should wear, which included the re-wearing of existing red carpet pieces, a list of pre-approved sustainable brands and red carpet rental options. 

However, it was at the Oscars where sustainable fashion was truly championed. Hollywood’s leading stars all took to the red carpet for the 92nd Academy Awards, with many choosing to be more environmentally conscious. This leads us to ask if this is a trend which we shall be seeing more of on the red carpet? Has the red carpet perhaps turned green?  

Award season fashion is often discussed about as much as the award show itself, with many celebrities having meticulously planned their outfit, hair, make up, accessories and arrival. All of which can be very costly for the environment. Often red-carpet fashion means one of a kind pieces that take hours to create, but often these outfits are only worn once and never used again. This not only damages the environment, but also presents a message to the world that re-wearing clothes isn’t cool and it is always best to wear something new for each event. This year’s Academy Awards begun to break this cycle of thinking and reminded us all the power in loving the clothes we already have. 

The biggest way in which the Oscars fashion provided a more sustainable message was with stars re-wearing outfits which they had worn before. Joaquin Phoenix, who won Best Actor at the award show, heralded sustainable fashion through the whole 2020 award season, by re-wearing the same suit for every award show he attended. The actor chose a suit designed by Stella McCartney. Phoenix stated he chose to re-wear his single outfit to raise awareness about how unnecessary it is for us to constantly buy new clothes and proved to us all that one perfectly fitted suit is all you need to take the award season by storm.  

Similarly, Jane Fonda presented the award for Best Picture in a dress which she had first worn for the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. Fonda recently declared that the infamous red coat she was wearing when she was arrested in 2019 for protesting climate change would be the last item of clothing she ever purchased.

At the Vanity Fair Oscars party, both Laura Dern and Elizabeth Banks re-wore dresses from previous red-carpet moments as well. Dern wore Giorgio Armani whilst clutching her award and first wore the black, floor length gown in 1990 at the premier of “Wild at Heart” at the Cannes Film Festival. Whereas, Elizabeth Banks wore a red gown which the actress had originally worn to the same party in 2004, designed by Badgley Mischka. Banks chose to alter the dress slightly by removing the embellished straps, but apart from that, the dress remains unchanged and perfect for the same party 16 years later.

 Another way in which sustainable fashion was championed at the Academy Awards was through stars wearing vintage pieces on the red carpet. Margot Robbie attended the award ceremony wearing a navy, off the shoulder gown by Chanel from Spring/Summer 1994.

Penelope Cruz also opted for vintage Chanel couture, wearing a black gown with a full skirt, flower embellishment and pearl string belt. The dress was originally from the Chanel’s 1995 Spring/Summer collection.

Super-model Lily Aldridge chose to wear vintage to both the award ceremony and Vanity Fair after party. The model chose to wear a white Ralph Lauren dress from 2013 to the ceremony and a 2004 white gown from the fashion house Gucci, designed by Tom Ford.

Lastly, Kim Kardashian West stole the show at the Vanity Fair party by wearing Alexander McQueen’s infamous ‘Oyster Dress’ from his 2003 collection. Only two of these dresses exist in the world, one being given to Kardashian-West by her husband for Christmas and the other being on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. All of these stars continued a trend of recent award shows and press events, that being the re-discovery of timeless pieces which still make for breath-taking red-carpet fashion. 

Lastly, environmentally conscious fashion was heralded by the innovative use of sustainable fabrics. Saoirse Ronan repurposed the black top of her Oscars dress from the dress she wore at the BAFTAs the week before the Oscars. The Irish actress reimagined the top by attaching it to a full lilac skirt and accessorising with jewellery from Gucci.  

Repurposing is one innovative way in which award season outfits can we worn more than once. The fashion house Louis Vuitton ensured that all of the stars wearing the brand for the Oscars used only environmentally friendly materials. Both Kaitlyn Denver and Léa Seydoux wore eco-fashion by the designer. Kaitlyn Denver opted for a red, Swarovski encrusted gown. The dress was made from silk certified as environmentally friendly by the Red Carpet Green Dress campaign, meaning the carbon offset for creating the dress was neutralised. Denver’s Aldo heels were chosen due to the shoe brand being carbon neutral.

Léa Seydoux wore a white floor length gown made from Tencel luxe yarn and silk fabric and organic satin shoes, another outfit which was created in partnership with the Red Carpet Green Dress campaign.

Timothée Chalamet also wore eco-conscious fashion with Prada suit trousers and a bomber jacket combination which was made out of recycled nylon. Each of these outfits present the variety of options available when it comes to carbon neutral fashion for award shows. 

This year’s 92nd Academy Awards showed us all that there are many options when it comes to making more sustainable choices in regards to fashion for the awards season. However, there is more that can be done. It is commendable that Hollywood is now embracing the re-wearing of old garments, wearing vintage couture, choosing clothes from environmental initiatives and with eco-conscious fabrics. All of which are positive steps, however these were only a few out of the many attendees to the Oscars, as well as attendees to all the award shows this season. Progress and awareness are being made for sustainable fashion choices at award shows, but the more stars who join, the better. 

Robyn Cowie can be reached at [email protected].edu.