How Political Statements on the Red Carpet Have Evolved Through the Years

For decades, celebrities have been using the red carpet as a platform to voice their opinions on political and social issues, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

In 1972, for instance, Jane Fonda wore an all-black YSL suit to the Oscars to protest the Vietnam War (she was also nominated in the Best Actress category). Fast-forward 46 years later, and Hollywood’s biggest stars used an all-black dress code as a channel for protest yet again.

At the 2018 Golden Globe Awards, a sea of black dresses appeared on the red carpet as Hollywood women came together to take a stand in solidarity against sexual harassment and gender inequality. This happened in the midst of the #MeToo movement, which also prompted more than 300 women, including Nicole Kidman, Emma Stone and Reese Witherspoon, to launch Time’s Up, an initiative fighting harassment across all industries.

Mariah Carey, America Ferrera, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Billie Jean King. Mariah Carey, from left, America Ferrera, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, and Billie Jean King arrive at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, Calif75th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals, Beverly Hills, USA - 07 Jan 2018
(L-R): Mariah Carey, America Ferrera, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone and Billie Jean King on the red carpet at the 2018 Golden Globes.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

This year, stars continued their support for Time’s Up at the Globes by wearing wristbands and pins.

So whether there are subtle statements or grand entrances in all-black gowns, fashion is one of the most impactful mediums to make a statement — especially during awards season.

And in a heavy politically charged climate under the Trump administration, celebrities are continuing to use their style as a means to assert their stances. For instance, at the Grammy’s this month, pro-Trump fashion hit the carpet. Singer Joy Villa dressed in gown designed to be the Mexican border wall, and Ricky Rebel wore a Trump 2020 suit jacket.

joy villa, build the wall, grammy awards, 2019, red carpet, celebrity style, maga,
Joy Villa makes a statement with her pro-Trump Grammys look.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Whereas at the 2018 Emmys in September, “Black-ish” star Jenifer Lewis sported a casual Nike ensemble to stand behind Colin Kaepernick and the company’s decision to use the ex-NFL star in its 30th-anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. (Trump said in an interview with The Daily Caller that the ad sent a “terrible message.”)

jenifer lewis
Jenifer Lewis wearing a Nike logo sweatshirt and black sneakers.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Celebrities are also expressing their stances on social issues simply through the designers they choose to wear as more and more labels continue to take a stand politically through their designs and collections.

“It’s always fascinating and rewarding to see fashion being used as a vehicle for activism,” said stylist Andrew Gelwicks. “On the runway, a lot of designers, such as Prabal Gurung and Christian Siriano, are making bold political statements in their clothing.”

He added, “I anticipate this year’s political and social statements will still have a presence on the carpet but might be more subtle with a small pin or even by which designers they use.”

Pyer Moss, lead by designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, is a brand using its designs to celebrate black culture and promote matters outside the industry, such as racism and gun violence. Jean-Raymond constantly redefines what fashion is by challenging social narratives in America today.

At the 2018 CFDA Awards, actress Issa Rae wore all black designers as she hosted the event, starting on the carpet with a custom Pyer Moss look. Tracee Ellis Ross is another person making a statement when it comes to diversity in entertainment and fashion. She featured all black designers during the 2018 American Music Awards, which she hosted.

Issa RaeCFDA Fashion Awards, Arrivals, New York, USA - 04 Jun 2018WEARING PYER MOSS
Issa Rae wears a Pyer Moss look at the 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards.
CREDIT: Matt Baron/Shutterstock

With the 2019 Academy Awards just hours away, be sure to stay tuned on which celebrities use the moment to take a stand.

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