Red carpet fashion: Why Jennifer Aniston and Joaquin Phoenix are recycling their clothes
One of the biggest fashion trends emerging this awards season comes from the environmental movement: the practice of reducing, reusing and recycling.
Take a look at Joaquin Phoenix. He has collected trophy after trophy at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards for his titular role in “Joker” wearing the same black tuxedo by British designer Stella McCartney.
Premiering the suit at the Globes earlier this month, the actor complemented his shawl-collar jacket with a black bow tie. At the subsequent Critics’ Choice Awards and SAG Awards, he swapped the traditional neckwear for a modern skinny tie.
At the SAG Awards, Jennifer Aniston melded style, sustainability and sex appeal by choosing vintage over brand-new, accepting an award for her work on “The Morning Show” in a semi-sheer white silk gown from Christian Dior by John Galliano.
Laura Dern, too, took the sustainable route at the SAG Awards in a McCartney-designed dress made of sustainable forest-green cady. Last year, Dern told The Times that New York-based designer Gabriela Hearst was reworking one of her styles that the “Marriage Story” actress had previously worn into a new design for the red carpet. “I love the idea of deconstructing something and putting it back together,” Dern said.
Also this awards season, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts has been advocating sustainability. It has invited nominees and attendees, including Dern, Phoenix and the duke and duchess of Cambridge, to dress sustainably for its Sunday ceremony in London. To assist the BAFTA audience, the London College of Fashion published a “handy style guide [that] encourages us to make different fashion choices and be a voice for change,” such as opting for resale, renting or following an emerging designer such as Phoebe English.
“Shopping sustainably is a sum of parts,” Samata Pattinson, chief executive of Red Carpet Green Dress, said in an email. The organization has partnered with actresses such as Laura Harrier, Zoey Deutch and Sophie Turner to highlight environmentally responsible fashion at the Oscars. “It’s vintage, eco-wear, recycling and ... it’s not buying anything at all,” she said.
Outside Hollywood, the notion of repeating an outfit isn’t revolutionary. Within the fashion industry, it is a novel one because the red carpet leads to a fantasy world buoyed by glamour and extravagance. Photos of the stylish step-and-repeat are transmitted globally, boosting designers’ profiles and turning brands into household names. Who wants to see the same old outfit again? Never mind a gown made out of recycled plastic.
Still, a growing circle of celebrities, designers, stylists and retailers is bucking convention.
New York-based designer Prabal Gurung is no stranger to Hollywood’s red carpet, having dressed Elisabeth Moss for the Emmys in 2017. In his pre-fall 2020 collection, he tried his hand at applying couture technique to eco-friendly fabrics. The result is a black strapless gown that integrates a repurposed lace corset as well as sustainable taffeta made with fibers from recycled plastic bottles.
“It is a very modern approach to evening wear and creates luxurious pieces that have soul,” Gurung said in an email. “Our first of many steps to incorporating sustainability in a couture way, such as the hand pleating seen in the collection, allowed us to cast a fresh lens on the beautiful gowns that are at the heart of the brand’s DNA.” Although the dress has yet to be worn by a celebrity, the designer added, “I am excited by the growing availability of fabrics such as the taffeta we used and have been encouraged by the positive reactions by stylists.”
Stylists have been guided by conscientious clients. Working with stylist Jeanne Yang, “Aquaman” actor Jason Momoa decided to re-wear a pair of black Valentino pants at the Globes. He paired them with a green velvet Tom Ford blazer, which he purchased so he could wear it again in the future. Yang explained their sartorial selections, which included a Twitter-loved tank top. “Jason is somewhat unconventional and very conscious of sustainability,” she told The Times earlier this month.
Elizabeth Stewart, who has styled Oscar winners such as Cate Blanchett, Viola Davis, Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts, also believes that clothes should be worn again and again.
For example, last October at Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year Awards in London, Blanchett slipped into a shiny black Armani Privé jumpsuit covered allover with red and blue embellishments — the same one she had worn five years earlier to Armani’s pre-Oscars party in Beverly Hills.
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“It’s important to demonstrate that clothes need to be cherished for a lifetime,” Stewart told The Times in January 2019 of her rationale behind reusing outfits. “Why should it go into a landfill piling up with people’s discarded clothes?”
Retailers such as Nordstrom and COS also see the upside of repurposing fashion. On Friday, Nordstrom will offer a program called “See You Tomorrow” on its website and in its New York store at West 57th Street and Broadway.
The Seattle-based department store’s buyers will evaluate and purchase gently used clothing, shoes and accessories from consumers, who, in turn, will receive a gift card redeemable at Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack and HauteLook.
COS, the higher-end sister brand of H&M, is partnering with the Renewal Workshop to repair clothes that were damaged in production or returned by customers. Debuting Feb. 4 as part of a collection called Restore, these items will be sold at COS in Los Angeles at Westfield Century City as well as in New York and Washington, D.C., at a lower price than COS’ minimalist main line.
Stylist-turned-designer George Kotsiopoulos said one way the fashion industry could reduce its carbon footprint and help the environment is to limit the shipments of outfits sent for consideration. “Say you have a fitting for someone,” he said by phone. “You’re calling in clothing from all over the world for this person. You’re talking about shipping and boxes and shipping it back. Just that one dress or that one suit for someone on the [red] carpet — it is a bit ridiculous.”
Kotsiopoulos has his own plan for making the red carpet more green with L.A.-based designer Laura Basci. Under their label, George Laura, they’re collecting vintage ties made by Gucci, Valentino, Moschino, Balmain and other high-end brands and giving them a second life.
Basci, who grew up in Switzerland and worked in couture houses there and in Italy, heads her eponymous fashion house in L.A., where she and her employees spend more than 20 hours hand-beading intricate designs on each tie. “I just go with the flow and follow the lines and make it prettier,” Basci said of the beadwork. “Each piece is a one-of-a-kind.”
Although the duo is still ironing out details for their label’s launch, Kotsiopoulos has been wearing their designs out on the town.
A Dior polka dot tie with scores of red beads glistened off his all-black outfit at the Jan. 9 premiere of RuPaul’s new comedy series “AJ and the Queen.”
Kotsiopoulos estimates that the reworked ties will sell for between $900 and $1,200 apiece. “There are a lot of ties out there,” he said. “We just want to make them fantastic.”
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