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Female Designers Rule the Red Carpet in 2018 Awards Season

Stylist Erica Cloud, who works with a roster of clients that includes Hong Chau, Mandy Moore and Patty Jenkins, made the unusual decision to dress her clients almost exclusively in female designers from head to toe this awards season.

“I just felt, given the Time’s Up movement, and bringing awareness in all areas, that it was a nice way to give tribute to that as well, you know, in a long-time male-dominated business,” says Cloud. She has used Stella McCartney, Rodarte, Rosie Assoulin, Monique Lhuillier, Vika Gazinskaya, Bella Freud, Irene Neuwirth jewelry and Tamara Mellon shoes.

Were her clients on board with it? “Oh, one hundred percent,” says Cloud. “I’m very lucky to work with very strong females who are both intelligent but also very giving and warm and involved, so they are very happy to support other women. We’re all in it together, so let’s celebrate that.”

Cloud introduced Moore to Rosie Assoulin, who designed the “This Is Us” actress’ Golden Globes gown. Assoulin’s friend Neuwirth designed Moore’s jewelry.

“It was a little love fest,” says Cloud of the collaboration. “I don’t want to give any disrespect to the designers by not saying who Mandy was wearing, because somebody worked hard on that dress, but at the same time still give respect to the movement and what the issues [#TimesUp] that are being brought up are.”

It’s a tricky line to tread right now on the red carpet, where in the past women have been questioned about their gowns and men their work.

Oscar nominee Allison Janney wore the gunmetal gown by Russian designer Yulia Yanina that Tara Swennen had picked for Globes, before the blackout, to the SAG Awards. “It reminded us of chain mail, and so we loved the idea of it feeling like armor against all the atrocities that have been happening,” Swennen says.

“I think everyone’s becoming more aware of what they’re trying to say through their clothes and so whether that be an eco-conscious decision, or a female-driven decision, or a designer who’s supporting a specific cause, women are becoming much more aware that what they put on makes a statement and that in itself has power.”

This season, Swennen worked with Fabiana Milazzo specifically because of the designer’s initiatives toward impoverished women in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“She essentially creates this hub, with a nursery and a school, where they can all work together as a community,” says Swennen of Milazzo’s tribe of seamstresses. “They all sit together while they work and they gossip and they teach each other and Fabiana has educational programs for them as well. If we’re going to support women, let’s really support them.”

While fashion has traditionally been a male-dominated business, two of the biggest and most established houses, Dior and Givenchy, have recently appointed female creative directors for the first time; Nicole Kidman wore a dress from Clare Waight Keller’s debut collection at Givenchy to the Golden Globes.

Does that in itself reflect change? “I hope so,” says Swennen, who also works with Whitney Cummings, Caitriona Balfe and Kristen Stewart. “For a brand that’s had a male designer for years upon years, the female view is a nice change of pace. It’s a different view, you know? I hope it paves the way for many more brands to be equal opportunists in all facets of their businesses.”

“Also, there’s something to be said for women designing for women,” Cloud says. “It comes down to how women feel when they wear clothing and the little things that make all of us feel more confident. I think it’s great to have a woman’s perspective on that because we’re all different and all have our own sets of insecurities and I think that’s something that’s very conscious in female designers. They try and make it flattering for all women.”

Above all else, the current sea change on the carpet “is giving inspiration and hope to little girls. I think it’s great to show that you can really do anything, and just keep pursuing dreams because they can be reality.”

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