The Oscars. That strange time of the year when the world stops turning on its axis, and the sun seems to only shine on West Hollywood where the most famous sit in big dresses in a big room and give each other small gold statues. Glamorous? Maybe. Strange? Absolutely.
Yet the awards aren’t just a celebration of great talent (congrats Brie Larson) or compelling, important films (yes, Spotlight was 100 per cent the worthy winner), it has become about the frocks. Or, in other words, what women are wearing. (Can anyone name who made DiCarprio’s suit? No, didn’t think so).
And much like the gold statues handed out to directors and actors and producers, beautiful women stand strangely still on a red carpet, radiating wealth and glamour, wearing dresses worth more than a one-bed in Catford, dripping in jewels that demand their own security team, and presumably breathing in with all the tenacity of a synchronised swim team.
So what happens when a woman shows up who *isn’t* wearing a bespoke couture gown; a woman whose hair *doesn’t* look like it’s spent the last three weeks being coiffed; a woman, god damn it, in a pair of trousers?
Last night Jenny Beavan, one of the industry’s finest costume designers, arrived at the Oscars and went on to win an award for her work on Mad Max: Fury Road. But in a tale as old as DiCaprio’s previous oscar-shunning, Beavan’s work was completely displaced by the fact she showed up in a fake leather M&S jacket, black trousers, and had the look of someone who enjoyed clothes for the very fact she could move in them.
Oh, the horror! Just look at those guys' faces as she goes to collect her award! A row of men, almost in a synchronised choreography that looks staged, belie total disbelief that the woman in front of them doesn’t look like a Disney Princess, is walking with ease and purpose, and is defying every convention she is meant to be upholding. Their faces say it all: an incredulous shock that here is woman refusing to play along with the tired, out-of-date notions of how women should look and should behave. So shocked, it would seem, they forget to clap.
Beavan, (also of Stephen Fry Bag-lady-gate), obviously knew exactly what she was doing. Backstage she said, “I don't do frocks and absolutely don't do heels, I have a bad back. I look ridiculous in a beautiful gown….This is Marks & Spencer with Swarovski at the back. I had a bit of a shoe malfunction and the glitter fell off. I just like feeling comfortable and as far as I'm concerned I'm really dressed up.”
So here we are, the world’s media obsessing over a woman who went to the Oscars in M&S, in nothing that resembles a wedding dress on an acid trip, and instead of dripping in diamonds, she was dripping in heaps of defiant, unapologetic self-assuredness.
And the winner is…Jenny Beavan.