Time’s up for black dress
Frances McDormand was right - you can show solidarity without following a code, writes Hannah Betts.
Another awards ceremony, another sartorial blackout. The Baftas – like the Golden Globes before them – turned the red carpet jet black in a demonstration of solidarity for Hollywood’s anti-sexual harassment Time’s Up movement.
Here was a crowd of impeccably elegant crows: Saoirse Ronan in Chanel, Jennifer Lawrence in Dior, and Margot Robbie in a Givenchy halter-neck.
Meanwhile, the Duchess of Cambridge was criticised for opting for dark green, defenders maintaining that her frock’s black ribbon was a sign of support.
But hell hath no tedium like an actor engorged with moral outrage, especially pre-Oscar season when virtue signalling becomes the only show in town. And before you knew it, the glare of ire had turned away from the likes of the Weinsteins of this world and towards the Duchess for not standing with the sisterhood.
The thespian world’s selfcongratulatory radicalism is becoming a little self-righteous.
Many of us will have found ourselves emitting a cheer for Best Actress winner Frances McDormand, who sported a red and pink ensemble, informing those assembled: ‘‘I have a little trouble with compliance. But I want you to know that I stand in full solidarity with my sisters tonight in black.’’ Go, McDormand!
‘‘Trouble with compliance’’ lies at the heart of this movement.
Surely, the first blow against patriarchal abuses is to stop telling women what to do: whether it’s what to wear, or how to express their political opinions?
Besides, isn’t it men rather than women who should be in mourning-cum-purdah? Restrictions on female dress conjure not rebellion, but The Handmaid’s Tale.
Isn’t the acting world playing into the hands of abusers who claim female beauty and the frivolity of fashion as provocations for their assaults? We shouldn’t have to don full-length funeral garb to convey that our bodies are off-limits.
Do not misunderstand me. I am not one of those women who reject #Time’sUp and #MeToo for alienating the unfair sex.
These campaigns, and their associated activisms, have filled me with admiration, opening my eyes to abuses that I too long took for granted.
They have made me view my own life differently, a galvanising force that has proved inspiring. But let’s focus on their substance not the superficial; weight not wallpaper.
In the brouhaha over the Duchess of Cambridge’s Jenny Packham number, we are in danger of losing sight of the real issues.
As it was, the wrangling over frockgate gained more coverage than the fact that – of the statues awarded at the ceremony – 40 were claimed by men, eight by women.
As Kristin Scott Thomas observed: ‘‘We need equality now – their slogan is absolutely right. Now it’s a question of moving it from conversation to action.’’
Inevitably, we are destined for a sombrely clad Oscars on March 4, and I hope it feels like a powerful, rather than surface-only, message: death to old Hollywood and the criminals who blackened its name.
Let’s please call time’s up on blackouts and an end to the idea that borrowing a black frock is a means to political change and anyone who dares to disobey the dress code doesn’t stand by her ‘‘sister’s’’ side.
– The Telegraph
Frances McDormand says she has a ‘little trouble with compliance’.