Time’s up for black dress

Frances McDor­mand was right - you can show sol­i­dar­ity with­out fol­low­ing a code, writes Han­nah Betts.

The Timaru Herald - - FASHION&BEAUTY -

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’.

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