Red carpet fashion has always carried some baggage. While it puts glamorous women on a pedestal, it also simultaneously objectifies them into marketing mannequins and fitness models. “What are you wearing?” is the question that women attendees still get asked without fail, while men are asked more creative questions related to their work. At last year’s Oscars, outspoken feminists Amy Poehler, Reese Witherspoon et al launched #AskHerMore campaign to show that women celebs are more than just eye candies.
During this year’s award season, however, red carpet fashion has become more than just a marketing missile engineered by couture houses, mega stylists, and more to stoke the 1%’s spending appetite, then to trickle down to the rest via mass-friendly perfumes, bags, and fast fashion knock-offs. Celebs blacked-out the Golden Globes to show solidarity for #TimesUp movement, and in general, we’re starting to see a lot more red carpet statements that are as much about activism as about fashion. Which got us thinking: Being asked “What are you wearing?” in front of millions of viewers is a powerful opportunity for women celebs to speak up for causes they believe in. Why aren’t they all wearing sustainable, ethical fashion?
These celebs are doing just that, using their platforms to show off how incredible ethical fashion can be.
Connie Britton in Elisabetha Franchi
One of the most visible #TimesUp advocates on the red carpet circuit, Connie Britton, chose a stunning rose sequin column dress by Italian designer Elisabetha Franchi. Forget the misconception about redheads not being able to wear pink; Britton absolutely glows in this color, and the slightly tousled waves are a nice complement, making the whole ensemble younger and hipper. The maison is free of all animal-derived fibers such as fur, feathers, and wool, and donates its proceeds to various animal-focused charities and initiatives. Its EF Loves Dogs line is completely devoted to canine charities, and all the papers used are Forest Stewardship Council certified.
Marisa Tomei in Laura Basci
Marisa Tomei is one of those leading ladies who always make every outfit look 10x better than on a hanger, no? This sparkling long-sleeve number puts the focus on her beautiful, radiant face and loose waves. (Also, sensing a sparkling-long-sleeve-loose-waves trend here with Connie Britton!!) Laura Basci is a Swiss-born, LA-based haute couture designer who makes everything by hand with an in-house team using only fair-trade materials.
Claire Foy in Stella McCartney
Claire Foy, who plays young Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown, turned up in a decidedly more modern and sexy pantsuit by Stella McCartney. This garçonne look is a favorite of other A-listers like Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman, but we particularly love Foy’s version of fitted jacket and loose pants, plus a fully made-up face to keep things womanly.
The slight sheen makes this look like silk, which is actually good news for vegans. In the past, McCartney was using a mix of traditional and peace silk, which is the product of cocoons gathered after the moths are allowed to emerge and fly away. But now they are using a totally new, vegan-friendly silk, made using green chemistry process based on yeast, sugar, and spider DNA. Not only that, Stella McCartney has been on the forefront of using animal-friendly materials, organic cotton, recycled polyester, fair-trade practices, and closed-loop cycles of manufacturing.
Simone Johnson in Fabiana Milazzo
Simone Johnson may not be a household name yet, but her dad certainly is. The Rock’s daughter is just 16 years old but showed off a very grown-up, glamorous style as a Golden Globes ambassador. This corset-bodiced black dress is by Italian designer Fabiana Milazzo, who uses sustainable fabrics like Tencel, Modal, recycled polyester, and cotton. Fragments of Milazzo’s collection are donated to three nonprofits to be upcycled into children’s clothing.
Tara Lipinski in Dress The Population
The Olympic gold medalist wins majorly with this simple yet stunning pick by Dress The Population. The halter neck is perfect for showing off her shapely shoulders and the mermaid shape elongates her petite frame. Founded in 2011 by Franklin Morales, Dress The Population chooses a new charity each month and a dress from its collection; 50% of the proceeds from that dress benefits the month’s chosen charity. All of its operations from design to sampling to production are done in-house in LA to ensure a fair working environment.
Connie Britton in Lingua Franca sweater
And the award for Best Red Carpet Activist goes to…Connie Britton! For Golden Globes, the star chose a “Poverty is sexist” sweater by Lingua Franca, a sustainably-sourced cashmere knit company that makes everything by hand in NYC. It also supports charities through the sale of its collaboration sweaters.
Eva Longoria in Genny
Eva Longoria absolutely glowed next to fellow feminist/friend Reese Witherspoon. The deep-cut neckline alludes to a tuxedo while the sky-high thigh slit keeps the long-sleeve black dress sexy rather than somber. A storied Italian maison (where Gianni Versace was once Creative Director), Genny has turned its focus to sustainable fashion in the past several seasons. It uses certified sustainable materials and produces its collections within 100km of its headquarters, reducing shipping emissions.
Emma Watson in Ronald van der Kemp
You didn’t think we would compile a list of sustainable fashion celebs and not have Emma here, did you?! Our fav poster girl for brains *and* beauty dressed up in Ronald van der Kemp, the Dutch designer who made waves during Spring ’18 couture shows by presenting dresses embroidered by Syrian and African refugees residing in the Netherlands. Using sustainable materials (including vintage silks and renewable cork), his collection sends a powerful message about embracing refugees and reducing consumerism. Usually the one to choose more conventionally beautiful looks, Emma took a fashion risk here and went for something a bit more Vermeer-meets-Rooney-Mara. (Or, Girl with a Pearl Earring slash Girl with a Dragon Tattoo). I honestly feel torn about this look, especially with her new, very short bangs–what do you think?
Hong Chau in Stella McCartney
Hong Chau may not be a familiar face yet, but she’s pretty much on the verge of getting an Oscar nom for her role in Downsizing. This ultra-sexy Stella McCartney number says, “Look at me–I belong here!” The velvet, spaghetti straps, and the black lace are totally 90s-vibing, but the sculptural earrings and sleek hair put things firmly in 2018 footing. When in doubt, mix 2 different periods to keep things contemporary and not too vintage. Duly noted!!!
Which of these ethical fashion designers is your favorite?
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Photos: Simone Johnson via Instagram, Connie Britton via Instagram, Reese Witherspoon via Instagram