For all the fun that’s in the glitz and glamour of award season, it can be difficult not to be taken aback by the array of ornate, gorgeous creatures that glide up the red carpet. These women are powerhouses; they excel at their craft, toiling hard for years to bring a range of diverse, complex female roles to the big screen and this is what we seek to applaud them for. But yes, all eyes are also on what they choose to wear when collecting these accolades. And, for the most part, they opt for a classicly beautiful ballgown. One that is pretty and the height of femininity. We’re all for embracing this; wearing what makes you feel beautiful no matter the occasion, but the red carpet always looks the same and at this stage, it’s very stagnant. Few break the mould amongst the sequins, silk trains and painfully perfect hair.
However last night, one actress stood out a mile; waltzing up the expensive carpet like a breath of fresh air: Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood. Wearing a tailored Altuzarra suit with a white bow at the collarbone, she proudly proclaimed her reason for ditching a dress this year. “This is my third nomination, and I’ve been to the Globes six times, and I’ve worn a dress every time – and I love dresses, I’m not trying to protest dresses – but I wanted to make sure that young girls and women knew that they aren’t a requirement and that you don’t have to wear one if you don’t want to, and to just be yourself, because your worth is more than that,” she told Ryan Secrest.
Wood isn’t the first woman to try trousers at a glamorous award show, remember Diane Keaton? Or when costume designer Jenny Beavan showed us casual clothes can be cool at the Oscars last year? Wood wasn’t alone last night either; Kathryn Hahn and Octavia Spencer joined the no dress movement but it was Woods’ words that struck a chord. A self-confessed movie fanatic, I lap up everything about award season – including the designer gowns – but last night was the first time I ever remember feeling immeasurably proud of a celebrity’s red carpet choice.
I’d never seen a young, Hollywood star make such a statement at a time when the done thing is to look like you belong there, like everyone else. I’d never seen someone so blatantly look straight into a camera that way and tell the millions of potentially impressionable young women watching that; it’s okay not to look like the rest; to embrace who you are, even if it’s in a tuxedo, even in Hollywood. “Be yourself and never apologise,” was what Wood, in her elegantly tailored suit, proudly said. And I cheered.
This isn’t about criticising those that go for the gown, though. It’s not about wearing a tux, as such, it’s what this represents. It’s about embracing individuality; refusing to conform in a society where women are continually told to do just that. About telling women, there’s another option if you don’t want to look like an ethereal rose in Valentino or Gucci or Dior – you can do this, of course, should you want to – but the point is, you shouldn’t be afraid to go for plan B. You can ditch the spandex, throw next season’s floral trends out the window and do – and wear – whatever the hell you want.
Thank you, Evan Rachel Wood.