Throughout Oscar history, clothes and politics have clashed at the podium.
Clothes generally reflect the times we live in, but at Sunday evening’s Oscars, it was hard to say exactly what sartorial message should be sent, given that war had so recently broken out between the U.S. and Iraq.
"They left it up to each of the guests’ discretion to dress appropriately, which is a change from wartime years in the past," said Patty Fox, fashion coordinator for the Academy Awards and author of "Star Style at the Academy Awards." In the end, the glamour factor was turned down a notch Sunday, as many actresses felt the more wasteful gesture would be to scrap their already-commissioned dresses.
In the past, though, the Academy was more explicit about what — and what not — to wear. During World War II, it banned formal wear and dancing, labeling the event a dinner — not a banquet. At the 1941 awards, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt addressed the crowd by telephone, and the women were asked to make donations to the Red Cross in lieu of wearing corsages. Actor Van Heflin even accepted his award at the 1942 awards in full military uniform.
But by 1943, the imposed somber mood was considered stifling. Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper waged her own campaign against the glamour ban, leading "a guerrilla war of my own to doll up the Academy Awards, when the studio chieftains still wanted the presentation to look no dressier than a missionary’s sewing bee."
She telephoned stars directly, urging them to buck the trend. In 1943, Ginger Rogers took the lead, wearing a sparkling gown with flowers in her hair. But others continued to take the edict of informality to heart, most notably Ingrid Bergman, who wore the same dress to both the 1944 and 1945 ceremonies.
There were no such rules during either the Korean or Vietnam wars, however. During Vietnam, several attendees opted for hippie attire, though that perhaps had as much to do with the fashions of the times as any political statement. Sonny and Cher arrived in sandals and casual wear and Ali MacGraw took the stage in a fringed vest. Then there was Vanessa Redgrave’s solemn medieval-inspired robe in 1978, worn during an acceptance speech in which she raised the topic of the Palestinians’ plight.Last year’s Oscars, even though they took place only six months after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, were as glamorous and glitzy as ever, with stars not hesitating to parade their colorful couture and diamonds. The only somberness came in the ceremony itself, which included a filmed tribute to New York. And in 1991 during the Persian Gulf conflict, the only sign of wartime was the metal detectors at the Shrine Auditorium.
Ultimately, every awards show is characterized by its own particular moment in time. Certainly the main legacy of the 75th Academy Awards had little to do with frivolous fashion moments. As Fox observed, "it will be remembered as one of unrest and uncertainty."
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews