Dear readers, I caught this article on WashingtonPost.com last week and it just sat strangely with me.
First, I have to say it was majorily exciting to see fashion come up as a hot topic in the Post – that speaks volumes for our industry and the place it deserves in the media. So, I’ll begin by saying, brava to the Post for putting out a piece centered soley on the fashion industry as whole. But… then I read it. It left me feeling just down right weird. Robin Givhan is a talented writer and fashion critic, don’t get me wrong. She is captivating, thought-provoking and I usually love her work. There was just something about this one, though.
Beginning with the notion that “the red carpet is bad for fashion” is clearly a technique of shock-value (which as a writer I loved!) – and I genuinely enjoyed the thought of being totally on board with Givhan by the end – but then I got to the end and…I was not.
Her main argument in this piece is that the red carpet does far more for celebrities than it does for the fashion industry. I just don’t agree. Givhan questions, “What do designers get? The opportunity to create a pretty — but safe — formal gown that briefly amuses the eye but does little to move the fashion needle.” I
have serious issues with this statement. In just taking a look at just the 2015 styles of the red carpet during last week’s Golden Globes, I see some seriously unsafe and creative choices that sparked great conversation about women’s fashion. Emma Stone and Lorde both trotted down the carpet in… pants! Emma in a bedazzled Lanvin jumpsuit and Lorde in a sleekly stunning Narciso Rodriguez tux. And, dear readers, because that tux was so different with its cropped top and wide legged trouser combo – I had to go and see what designer was behind the magic. This is precisely why I think the red carpet is, in fact, good for fashion.
Givhan makes the claim, with several examples, that many actors and actresses owe their fame to faceless and nameless “invisible” designers. While I am no pop culture buff, I can honestly say that it is a stretch to attribute the fame of talented actresses to simply the dresses they were seen in on the red carpet. It was their work that got them to the carpet in the first place. She goes on to talk about how few ever mention the designers – the only talk is about the garment itself. Well, I’m clearly biased here because I’m interested in and live for fashion – we (us fashionistas, that is!) all talk about “who are you wearing” after a red carpet. And even for those who don’t keep in stride with the fashion industry, red carpet events bring fashion to the table (literally). Workroom lunches, happy hours, Starbucks line – you name it and I can guarentee there is talk about what was worn the day after a red carpet event. The red carpet puts fashion on the lips of many who normally aren’t engaged in the industry.
My gripe with the article is this – I don’t believe red carpet events are bad for fashion. While I agree that some aspects of fashion don’t get the coverage they deserve (which is what I think Givhan is getting at here), I do see them as a benefit to our industry because the carpet itself brings conversation centered on fashion to a wide ranging audience including but not limited to all the viewers of prime time television. Givhan is clearly right in her notion that “We consume the delights [red carpet fashions] so quickly that we can’t fully appreciate them.” I’d agree that the red carpet propels and further engages us in the concept of fast fashion but deeming the entirety of award show red carpets as a negative for fashion as a whole is just a stretch to me.
Like a perfectly fitting shoe or Tuesdays at Goodwill, a piece of writing that leaves me unsettled for hours is just one of those things I really love. Now, dear readers, I want to hear from you. Do you think the red carpet is bad for fashion?
Comment below with your stylish two cents!