Story at a glance

  • The Oscars red carpet is not only a big moment for Hollywood, but the fashion industry as well.
  • While some attendees made political statements with what they wore, others chose to make a statement with what they didn’t wear: new clothes.
  • Natalie Portman, Joaquin Phoenix and Jane Fonda were just a few celebrities to use the red carpet to make a political fashion statement.

Rain or shine, the show must go on. So, Hollywood’s biggest stars put their best foot forward onto a soaking wet Oscars red carpet Sunday night to make their fashion statements with a squish.  

As primetime viewership continues to drop, the Oscars have also taken a hit in recent years. While ratings went up last year, it was only enough to be the second smallest audience ever for an Academy Awards telecast. Viewership hasn’t crossed 40 million since 2014, the year of the famous Ellen DeGeneres selfie. But whether you watched the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9 or not, you probably saw gallery after gallery of celebrities’ red carpet looks online the next morning. 

And while they all seem to blur together after a while, there's an added reason for that this year. Celebrities are increasingly rewearing or repurposing their red carpet looks in the name of sustainability. 

Joaquin Phoenix used his "Best Actor" acceptance speech to promote animal rights in the same Stella McCartney tuxedo that he plans to wear for the entire 2020 awards season. Jane Fonda declared on her first Fire Drill Friday arrest that the red coat she was wearing was the last piece of clothing she’d ever buy, and she stayed true to her promise in the same dress she wore to the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Kaitlyn Dever of “Booksmart” told E! that her Louis Vuitton dress was made of Tencel, an eco-friendly fiber. And Vogue reports Saoirse Ronan’s custom Gucci gown used leftover black satin from her BAFTAs dress, which itself was made from discarded satin to comply with the film award’s sustainable dress guidelines. 

The environmentally conscious approach by fashion’s biggest brands mirrors efforts from fast fashion brands seeking to combat the problem of clothing waste. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that more than 11 million tons of textiles were sent to landfills in 2017, contributing to carbon emissions and water pollution. Still, on a night that’s arguably as big for the fashion industry as it is for the film industry, many celebrities still changed into a second look for the after-parties

Celebrities who did sport new looks, however, didn’t shy away from using the red carpet spotlight to make a statement. Waad Al-Kateab, director of Oscar-nominated documentary "For Sama," shared the meaning of her dress on Twitter. 

Natalie Portman wore a dress that went viral, donning a black Dior cape embroidered with the name of female directors that weren't nominated for the Oscars in a banner year for women in Hollywood. 

"I wanted to recognize the women who were not recognized for their incredible work this year in my subtle way," she told the L.A. Times

The names included Lorene Scafaria, Lulu Wang and Greta Gerwig. Portman is a director herself, producing two movies under her company Handsomecharlie films, which has produced no other female-directed movies otherwise. 

Published on Feb 10, 2020