The past year in media can often times be summed up by one event, on one amazing and glamorous night. This weekend’s Oscars were no exception in exemplifying exactly the types of changes in the spheres of fashion, media, and social movements that have been on all our minds. This year however, felt like there was more change to be seen, especially with the past year’s gradual acceptance of feminism and female empowerment as a movement in general, but in particular with how women are represented in media and how the media and fashion industry are showing subtle signs of change for the better. Fashion and film haven’t always been a proponent of traditional feminism, but here are a few ways in which this year’s 87th Annual Academy Awards were a triumph for both fashionistas and feminists alike.
Patricia Arquette Acceptance Speech
First and foremost, let’s address one of the biggest, and albeit, controversial moments of the night which happened during the actual broadcast when Patricia Arquette accepted her award for Best Supporting Actress. If you haven’t seen her speech already, I suggest you watch the video below, if not for Meryl Streep and J.Lo’s amazing joint reactions. She definitely addressed a big issue but then sort of lost a bit of credit with this comment after the awards: “[…] It’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.” Aside from the fact LGBT and POC have been active in equality for decades, but last I checked, queer women and women of color were still women. Equality should be all inclusive. Not cool, Patricia. Nice try though.
Honored in memoriam during the Oscars were notable women such as Maya Angelou and Lauren Bacall, both feminist advocates in their own right. Surprisingly, Ms. Oscar Red Carpet herself, Joan Rivers, was left out the tribute. The Academy later apologized and paid respect on their official website, but still, we think she deserves a little more than an online shoutout.
One of the most popular hashtags of the night, and what every good feminist was on the watch for during the red carpet walk was the #AskHerMore movement, prompted by The Representation Project, begged the male centric media at large to focus on more than just actresses clothes and appearance this year during red carpet interviews.
This however, struck a chord with myself, and apparently a few others within the fashion community when you consider what a machine events like the Oscars are for many designer brands and the fashion industry in its entirety (though Reese definitely gave the fashionistas some props). Countless hours of labor are put into the styling of just one celebrity, when you take into account the actual making of the dress, the marketing and networking involved in coordinating garments and jewelry with the right clients, the amount of PR power that takes. It’s incredible when you sit down and think about how many people and how much planning it took just to get a dress on a woman for millions of people to see.
Let’s take a deeper look
Lupita Nyong’o’s Custom Calvin Klein Dress
Not only did this dress stun audiences and cement Lupita’s fashion icon status forever, but it was a sign of intensive craftsmanship being brought on by big American designers that hasn’t been seen for a while (there were over 6000 pearls that were hand embroidered and custom fit!). With the popularity of high fashion from abroad, many American designers get overlooked, but this dress, along with other designers like Donna Karan and Zac Posen, prove that there’s something to be said of American taste makers.
Lady Gaga’s custom Alaïa
This dress actually managed to make history as it was the first time the designer had been featured on the Oscar’s red carpet, a feat for any designer, no matter how established.
Julianne Moore’s custom Chanel
Not only was this custom Chanel piece gorgeous, but along with the previous two dresses, it presented a trend of custom one-of-a-kind pieces. The presence of many custom gowns completely changes the game for some of these brands, presenting a true wow-factor for audiences and major exposure and credibility for the designers.
Sienna Miller in Oscar de la Renta
And as a sign of ultimate change and memoriam, Oscar de la Renta’s successor made his debut on the red carpet, which is a true testament to the iconic late designer’s fashion house. De la Renta was the red carpet king, and is known as the “gentleman of women’s fashion”. He understood the true essence of strong women, not afraid to feel beautiful, make bold statements, and embrace their femininity. This was a true testament to the industry’s respect and admiration for women in my opinion.
This year’s Oscar’s definitely taught us a lot. What I can say I personally took away from it was a sense of empowerment for women in the media and in the fashion industry alike. Where I understand that women are more than what they wear, the things they wear are more than just outdated standards of beauty; they’re a reclamation of what it means to be a woman. Fashion can be a strong force for change, and as most don’t understand, is a business. And when women succeed and can be a force for positive change in a world powered by industry, be it fashion, media, or otherwise, that’s definitely something that deserves a gold statue.