The Oscars asked for green fashion on its red carpet, but few stars complied

  • Style
  • Tuesday, 14 Mar 2023

Very few celebrities answered the call for green practices on the red carpet at the 2023 Oscars. Pictured here (from left) are Cate Blanchett, Zoe Saldana and Rooney Mara. Photo composite: AFP

Style meets sustainability. Such was the mission given to guests attending this year's prestigious Oscars ceremony, who were asked to rent, reuse, upcycle, or look to natural materials in order to put sustainability in the spotlight on the most hotly watched red carpet of the season.

In reality, the expected green wave failed to engulf the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, but a handful of guests made an effort to blaze a trail to a more environmentally friendly event.

The slew of celebrities on the guest list for the 95th Academy Awards ceremony – whose big winner proved to be Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan's feature film, Everything Everywhere All At Once – certainly lived up to the famous Hollywood glamour expected of such an event thanks to a perfect combination of tradition and modernity, notably embodied by an abundance of corsets, lace, sheers and... bridal gowns.

But was this red carpet – the most sophisticated and hotly watched of the awards season – more environmentally friendly, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had envisaged?

Nothing is less certain, although everyone has their own take on what sustainability actually means.

Read more: Oscars 2023 fashion: Michelle Yeoh and other stars regale on the red carpet

A 'Sustainable Style Guide'

Yet the message was clear enough. In November, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its intention to bolster its sustainability efforts by making its prestigious red carpet greener.

Through a partnership with the Red Carpet Green Dress (RCGD) organisation, the institution worked on a "Sustainable Style Guide", a specially tailored edition of which was sent to all guests invited to attend the ceremony.

The idea was to help them adopt a more environmentally friendly dress code, and pave the way for greener red carpet events.

"While the Academy remains consistent in our commitment to operating as a socially responsible organisation with sustainability at our core, we acknowledge that there is always more we can do," Jeanell English, Academy executive vice president of impact and inclusion, said at the time.

"We are proud to partner with RCGD Global. Its thought leadership and expertise, along with the active engagement of Academy members, will continue to support our forward and necessary momentum."

For this 95th ceremony, guests were encouraged to turn to vintage dresses, outfits already worn on other occasions, rented gowns, creations borrowed from the archives of major fashion houses, upcycled designs, or to favour textiles derived from natural sources, such as linen, hemp, wool, or biosourced materials based on plants, as well as more sustainable production methods and brands considered ethical.

All of which might suggest that some of the major brands already working in the field, such as Stella McCartney, would be a key presence on the red carpet. But, in the end, only a few of the guests really made this kind of choice.

Chloe East, Bailey Bass, Zoe Saldana

Three world-renowned celebrities officially joined RCGD Global's campaign for this year's Oscars, adopting at least one of the sustainable principles of this fashion guide.

American actress Chloe East chose a sumptuous Monique Lhuillier dress made from black Tencel fibers and scrap fabric.

Meanwhile, actress Bailey Bass wore a Zac Posen couture dress of a simplicity and elegance that didn't fail to impress. This outfit too was made using sustainable Tencel fibers of botanic origin, and accessorised with lab-grown diamonds.

The last, but not least, celebrity to partner with Red Carpet Green Dress, was Zoe Saldana, who stepped out in a Fendi lingerie-inspired creation.

Specifically, it was a pale pink silk satin gown, consisting of a lace-embellished corset-style bodice and draped skirt, which the Avatar star wore with vintage Cartier jewelry pieces.

The reuse of creations from the past – once considered a fashion faux pas – shows the willingness of certain guests to adopt more environmentally friendly practices, although there's clearly still a long way to go.

Other guests looking to change the game included Rooney Mara, who walked the red carpet in a vintage empire-waist Alexander McQueen gown from the British fashion house's fall 2008 collection, and Cate Blanchett, who opted for a Louis Vuitton outfit with a draped blue top from the French fashion house's archives.

And – unusual enough to be noteworthy – the two world-famous actresses opted to wear the same outfit for the Oscars ceremony and the after-show party traditionally hosted by Vanity Fair.

Read more: Breaking down the red carpet look of Michelle Yeoh, Malaysia's first Oscar winner

Giving Oscars fashion a second life

Still, the other guests – many of whom wore brand-new dresses from the Autumn/Winter 2023 collections of major fashion houses – have not necessarily given up on reducing the impact of their evening wear on the environment.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences asked in its "Sustainable Style Guide" for guests to consider highlighting cultural heritage and craftsmanship.

This was certainly accomplished by the overwhelming majority of guests, who opted for haute couture gowns, as well as meticulously handcrafted jewelry pieces.

Haute couture and fine jewellery are – in a way – inherently more eco-responsible, whether through the quality of the materials used, the manufacturing processes, or the work of the many craftspeople who bring these creations to life.

The afterlife of Oscars fashion was also at the heart of the Academy's concerns, which expressly encouraged guests to keep their outfits to wear them again, transform them into something else, sell them to give them a second life, or donate them to charity. Something that the numerous guests at this 95th Oscar ceremony have surely not failed to do. – AFP Relaxnews

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