The year on the red carpet

It was the year public figures returned to the limelight, first with a tiptoe outside during the presidential nomination, then a socially distanced red carpet at the Oscars – then an explosion in full throttle, ball gowns to the max. to dress repressed at the Cannes Film Festival, as if to compensate for the previous year of forced isolation.

Our celebrity avatars were no longer Just Like Us, stuck at home in sweatpants, T-shirts and Tevas; they had become receptacles through which we could peacock by proxy. The skirts got bigger and bigger, the costumes more and more detached, the gender differentiation more and more irrelevant and the definition of who has to send a message with what they wore more and more. large. The basic black tuxedo and little black dress turned into relics of the olden days. Who wants a dressy understatement when you’ve been forcibly muzzled for months?

Instead, give us color, personality, and a bugle bead (or 10) as symbols of a new era; vehicles of unhindered self-expression. Perhaps this is wishful thinking. Maybe the 2020s will really be the redux of the 1920s. Either way, the sheer visual statement has lit up our flows.

When Amanda Gorman rose to the pulpit on January 20 to read her poem, “The Hill We Go Up,” at Joseph Biden’s inauguration, her sunshine yellow Prada coat and cardinal red headband seemed to symbolize the glow. and the hope of his words and the promise of a new dawn – and new patterns.

Harry Styles in not one but three Grammy feather boas – purple, green and black – increased searches for the accessory by 1,500% in 48 hours, according to Lyst. “The clothes are here to have fun, experiment and play with,” he told Vogue in an interview the year before, and he’s been living what it means ever since, inspiring legions of fans to follow his lead. and dressing up for her concerts, turning the touring experience into an explosion of id. And identity.

Speaking of: When Deb Haaland was sworn in as Home Secretary, making history as the first Native American to lead a Cabinet-level agency, she also made history by avoiding the uniform Washington’s habit of fruit bowl-colored pantsuits in favor of traditional native dress. She wore a dark jacket over a sky blue ribbon skirt with rainbow trims embroidered with images of butterflies, stars and corn; moccasin boots; a turquoise and silver belt and necklace; and dragonfly earrings. It was yet another sign that we are entering an era in which personal statement, as evidenced by the attire worn for moments that will be captured for posterity, was becoming the biggest trend of the year.

When it came to tall, no one could beat Carey Mulligan’s gold Valentino skirt and bandeau top at the Oscars, the first true (albeit socially distanced) red carpet of the year. Essentially a wearable form of social distancing, it took what had been a harbinger of the pandemic (stay six feet away!) And turned it into something beautiful.

Colman Domingo was also a staple in a hot pink Versace tuxedo, a choice that set the tone for a year in which men stopped playing a background role on the red carpet. Instead, they stepped forward with plumage as eye-catching as any ball gown, emphasizing their own individuality. Forget the penguin costume of yesteryear. Enter the age at all is allowed.

There was no better example of this change than Spike Lee, the first black director to serve as jury president at the Cannes Film Festival, who showed up for the occasion in a wardrobe personalized by Virgil Abloh for the Louis Vuitton men’s clothing. From a fuchsia suit that opens with matching sunglasses to a final look bathed in sunset tones; a black suit with bright red buttons, black shoes with red laces and a green, red and black beret; and a ‘houndstooth’ costume with a pattern actually made from little basketball players, he defined what indie style really meant.

This relay was taken over by Timothée Chalamet, who contributed to the promotion of his films “The French Dispatch” and “Dune” by dressing if not exactly on the theme (phew), at least in the most eclectic and most impressive possible. He traded in Tom Ford’s silver moiré for a shimmering Haider Ackermann for a Stella McCartney mushroom toile de Jouy for a zippered Alexander McQueen – in case anyone doubted his image was his to control. No brand belongs to him.

Billy Porter may have been the fashion agnostic pioneer on the red carpet, but this is the year Lil Nas X established himself as his provocative champion. Case in point: Andrea Grossi’s child-ready dress he wore to the BET Awards with a mega-skirt, corset, short jacket and suspenders, all printed with references to war and religion. He later changed into a Richard Quinn flared floral suit (and changed again for his performance). Like his controversial “Satan Shoes” collaboration with MSCHF (and his Twitter feed), his style has rewritten the status quo.

It was the year, after all, that a new generation of taste makers appeared. See, for example, pop star Olivia Rodrigo at a White House meeting with President Biden and his team to discuss a campaign to promote vaccination among Gen Z while wearing her group’s uniform of peers. Her vintage pink Boucle Chanel suit symbolized two of their obsessions: the economy (for its sustainability implications) and the ’90s (that time before social media).

For sheer visual drama, however, no one could beat Zendaya, who (along with her stylist Law Roach) set a new standard for making an entry. This has never been truer than at the Venice Film Festival, where she appeared in a wet-looking nude Balmain molded over her body and worn with a 93-karat emerald necklace from Bulgari.

The combination was as stunning as Emma Raducanu’s triumph as the first unranked player to win the US Open women’s tournament. Her talent, her age (18, at the time of her victory) and her multicultural background (British citizen, she is half Romanian and half Chinese) have made her a heroine for the moment. Her taste for fashion (she attended the awards ceremony in Chanel – and sneakers) reflected her ambitions.

The year of fashion could be boiled down to two outfits worn at the one-off Met Gala in September. First, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a surprise appearance in a white Aurora James mermaid dress from Brother Vellies with the graffiti “Tax the Rich” spray-painted on the back. It became the talking point not only of the party, but of the week, taking the idea of ​​taking your position on your sleeve to a new level.

Next, Kim Kardashian appeared in a head-to-toe black lower body and Balenciaga dress, turning into a meta-commentary on her own cultural ubiquity: Even with her face erased and no words spoken, everyone knew who she was. Together, the two women demonstrated the yin and yang of the combination of social media, fashion and politics to define our shared experience in 2021.

Yet it was Jennifer Lawrence who winked at the sequel in 2022 when she appeared at the premiere of “Don’t Look Up” in full pregnant glory and golden Dior, as the promise of ‘an even brighter future. Dress for it, and maybe it will.

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