On Friday, Bafta announced that guests had been issued with a set of fashion guidelines as part of a wider attempt to reduce its awards ceremony’s carbon footprint. Invitees were encouraged to choose outfits with the environment in mind, whether through renting, rewearing or buying vintage.
But when the fashion credits rolled in on the Bafta red carpet, hardly anyone appeared to have got the memo.
Here was Rooney Mara in a sculptural gown from Givenchy’s most recent couture show. Here was Olivia Coleman in an embroidered Alexander McQueen dress from the label’s most recent resort collection. Here were Chanel ambassadors Margot Robbie and Lily-Rose Depp in a laser-cut black Chanel spring/summer 20 couture peplum dress and a pre-fall 20 sheer black lace-on-lace jumpsuit, respectively.
Many of the gowns were custom-made, such as Daisy Ridley’s sheer, Aphrodite meets Studio 54 knife-edge pleats by Oscar de la Renta. So, too, was Naomie Harris’s Michael Kors spaghetti-strapped shimmering column. And Jodie Turner-Smith’s majestic canary-yellow custom Gucci sequinned gown. And Scarlett Johansson’s shimmering custom Atelier Versace gown that ruffled out, from sleekness to froth at the bottom.
It fell to the Duchess of Cambridge – someone the Daily Mail recently described on its front page as “a royal who DOES know how to behave” – to choose a gold and cream Alexander McQueen dress she had previously worn on a 2012 tour of Malaysia.
Joaquin Phoenix was virtuous too, again wearing the Stella McCartney tux he has pledged to wear all awards season, for the sake of the climate – a well-meant intention that didn’t go down brilliantly when it was announced on social media. And Saoirse Ronan wore a black, dropped-waist Gucci dress made from discarded satin textiles.
Aside from that, the green carpet didn’t really happen. Instead, a violet spectrum emerged. Charlize Theron wore a very violet Dior gown; Florence Pugh gave off “let them eat plant-based desert” vibes in fuchsia flounces of panniered fabric overlaid on black mini dress, a gown created by the spring/summer 20 collaboration between Dries van noten and Edina Monsoon’s favourite designer, Christian Lacroix. Renée Zellweger was in palest lilac-pink Prada; Laura Dern wore artfully mismatching red and fuchsia Valentino. Dern’s sleek, embellished gown was one of the strongest of the night. Zoë Kravitz’s dress was memorable too – she looked like a jazz-age little mermaid, courtesy of Saint Laurent.
It was a strange disconnect. Perhaps Bafta issued the advice too late for the celebrities to come on board? Perhaps the celebrity-fashion industrial complex is just too profitable and entrenched to shake up in one awards season? Or perhaps, when the Hollywood types saw the derision meted out to Phoenix, it hardly seemed worth the bother. In any case, it was a spirited red carpet, but not a particularly sustainable one.