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Why this year's Golden Globes black-dress blackout is good for fashion

Why this year's Golden Globes black-dress blackout is good for fashion
At left, a scene from Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale." At right, Sistine Stallone, Scarlet Stallone and Sophia Stallone arriving at last year's 74th Golden Globes at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. (George Kraychyk /Hulu / TNS (left), Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times (right)

Even though the first footfalls on this year's Golden Globes red carpet won't take place until tomorrow, we're just going to go ahead and get the whole trend-spotting thing out of the way: The vast majority of the women in attendance will be wearing black dresses. The men, most of whom would usually pair a white shirt with their black tuxedos, will favor dark ones to create a tone-on-tone formalwear look. The on-trend lapel accessory of the season will be a Time's Up pin.

Inevitably, a few — but only a few — fashion mavericks will be enthusiastically oppositional by dressing in bright, focus-pulling colors. Exposed skin — plunging necklines and daring leg slits — will be at a minimum and red-carpet talking points will be at a maximum. And no one will end up on the evening's "worst-dressed list" because there simply won't be one.

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We know all these things, of course, because they've been explained in great detail in newspapers across the country (including this one) over the last week, as well as parsed, dissected, criticized and generally bandied about across social media. In short: The call to wear black dresses is an effort to highlight the issues of sexual assault, harassment and gender inequality.

As good as this may be for getting the message out (and we have no doubt that it will be very good at that), at first blush it seems as though a sea of black-dress sameness might make the red-carpet arrivals less enjoyable fashion-wise. In fact, it's probably the best thing to happen to the fashion world since the invention of the raised runway. Here are a few reasons why:

The Breakfast Burrito Effect

My friend Heather always orders the same thing when trying out a new restaurant: the breakfast burrito. She does this because she wants to compare like things to like things, and a given restaurant's take on the breakfast staple allows her to do just that. And, with this year's Golden Globes removing color from the equation, things such as silhouette, fabrication and embellishment will be more apparent. So will the considerable skill of the designers and stylists who have worked within the color constraint.

Accessories Will Shine

This is the season armchair fashion critics will be able to see just how important all the little details are; against the monochromatic backdrop, supporting players such as shoes, handbags, sparkly jewelry and lapel flair will move closer to center stage — and play bigger parts in establishing the carpet's standout style.

Cerulean Sweaters 2.0

Fashion matters! Not since Miranda Preistly's cerulean sweater monologue in "The Devil Wears Prada" (2006) has there been such a high-profile pop-culture reminder that the fashion industry so many deride as frivolous isn't just a huge industry, but one whose feathery fingers of influence extend far deeper into our lives than any of us care to admit.

Reverse-'Handmaiding'

For me, the call for color-coded solidarity immediately brought to mind the red robes of "The Handmaid's Tale," but with one very crucial difference; in the dystopian world of Margaret Atwood's book (and the Hulu series), the decision was one foisted upon the handmaids — handed down to them by the men who ruled over them. Here, the dress-code call, by all accounts, was by women to other women and for the purposes of highlighting the plight of other women. The result? They've orchestrated a reverse-"Handmaid's" moment that will fill the arrivals' red carpet with an inky black Rohrschach test that will be beamed into TV-viewing homes around the globe Sunday evening.

And just like interpreting a Rohrschach inkblot, many different people will see many different things when they tune in Sunday night. But there's one thing just about everyone will see — from this moment forward, red-carpet coverage is going to go way beyond simply asking: "Who are you wearing?"

For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me at @ARTschorn.

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