Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone – though not before you’ve tweeted / Facebooked your amazement. I have seismic news. You probably won’t believe it. But here goes. A real, live celebrity – one who lives in Hollywood ‘n’ everything, and has an agent, and is a bona fide actress; not just someone off a reality TV show who once made a fitness video then got fat again – has gone into a shop and bought herself a dress to wear to an awards ceremony. I know! With actual money! Or maybe a credit card: I wasn’t there, so cannot vouch for the specific method of payment, but a financial transaction was made which depleted said celebrity’s bank account and increased the coffers of the store in question. Told you it was seismic!
That the actress in question, Bryce Dallas Howard, bought her own gown to wear to an event as prominent as The Golden Globes is surprising in a world of freeloaders who, as we all know, don’t merely get to borrow dresses with four and five figure price tags, but are actively courted by designers to choose theirs. Dress the right star in the right gown, and the free publicity is priceless, far exceeding the cost of the dress. Little wonder designers fall over themselves to kit out that coterie of A-listers whom they know will grace the newspapers / magazines / websites that matter in the days and weeks after the event.
But if Bryce buying a gown is surprising, it isn’t half as surprising as the reason why. Interviewed by Giuliana Rancic on the red carpet, she said of the floor-length, midnight blue $4800 (£3495) Jenny Packham gown that she “just picked it up at Neiman’s this week” adding that “I like having lots of options for a size six, as opposed to maybe one option, so I always go to department stores for this kind of stuff.”
Sample sizes are routinely a size zero or two, and if you don’t fit into them, tough tittie
Yes, you read that correctly. The 34 year-old actress is a size six – a UK10 – but may as well be a beached whale by the draconian standards of the fashion industry, where sample sizes are routinely a size zero or two, and if you don’t fit into them, tough tittie. Judging from her choice of words – reading between the lines, at least – it doesn’t matter if you’re a beautiful, talented actress, and a presenter at one of the most high-profile, well-regarded awards ceremonies of the year: unless you slim down to near-skeletal proportions, you’ll have to buy your gown off the peg.
The bad news? That we still live in an age where a size six celebrity is considered anomalous. The good news? Bryce’s heroic venture into “Neiman’s” (Neiman Marcus, a US department store roughly the equivelent of Harvey Nichols) has turned her into a heroine overnight. Twitter has been awash with praise (“Bryce for president!”) and memes of her clutching a lightsabre abound. Which is nice, even if “celebrity buys own dress for awards ceremony” isn’t exactly without precedent. In 2014, Hayden Panettiere spent over $10,000 on a Tom Ford gown to wear to the Oscars, after reportedly being turned down to borrow one because Ford was already dressing another actress that night.
Like Panettiere before her, savvy Bryce has raised her profile more adroitly than she ever could have hoped to simply by donning a size zero, hot-off-the-catwalk couture gown borrowed by her stylist. For anyone who hasn’t yet got the memo: being best-dressed is all very well, but when it comes to your acting career, being relatable will get you further. And in the crazy world of Hollywood, nothing says “relatable” more than going into a shop and purchasing something off the peg just like a ‘normal’. Forget “asymmetric” and “burnt orange” – don’t be surprised if the biggest trend this awards season is “buying your own dress.”