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Stars Like Lena Waithe, Rachel Brosnahan Support Issues Through Fashion

On a Sunday morning in November 2017, Oscar-nominated costume designer and stylist Arianne Phillips pulled up to CAA for a meeting to which she’d been invited without receiving any other information.

“Reese Witherspoon was there at that meeting, and I know her because we worked together on ‘Walk the Line,’” says Phillips, who’s also worked on “Nocturnal Animals,” “W.E.” and “A Single Man,” as well as with Madonna for more than 20 years. “She told me at that time, it hadn’t been announced, that the actresses were going to wear black in solidarity [to the 2018 Globes], and would I create a pin or something for the men who’d be supporting to wear?”

The black and white Time’s Up pin that Phillips designed became a pervasive red-carpet statement for both men and women, at the Globes and other awards shows throughout the year.

Though the “blackout” organized in protest of sexual harassment wasn’t repeated this season, Phillips was once again approached. “I was asked by Time’s Up and Reese if I would collaborate with them on ways that we can create messaging at the Globes, being that it was a year-anniversary. So again, I just worked with the wonderful team at Time’s Up to develop the idea of ribbons and bracelets that people could wear this time to continue the messaging.” Her black and white accessories referenced Time’s Up X2, a new initiative aimed at doubling the number of women in the workplace.

Through these endeavors, Phillips realized that “the conversation can be changed on the carpet for good.” And at this year’s Globes, she launched the Red Carpet ADvocacy (RAD) initiative she’d been developing with friend and luxury brand consultant Carineh Martin.

“These awards shows have such massive audiences and celebrities have so much influence, and brands really want to be a part of that conversation,” says Martin, who first collaborated with Phillips in 1997 while running the VIP Relations Department at Prada, and continued to during her subsequent posts at Estee Lauder and Dior. RAD is their way of infusing the red-carpet platform with a purpose: “The talent picks the charity or the cause that they want to support, and aligns themselves with brands that want to stand with them in that advocacy. RAD comes in to bring those parties together and to create the advocacy campaign.”

At this year’s Globes, every single designer worn by Elisabeth Moss, styled by Karla Welch, donated to Moss’ charity, the ACLU. This served as the first time an actor’s entire look at an awards show was philanthropic, and Moss’ collaborators included Dior, Neil Lane, Tamara Mellon and Roger Vivier. “The talent chooses the charity so that they can speak from the heart,” says Phillips. “It’s not asking the talent to speak on behalf of the brand’s charity — that is inauthentic. This is really about an emotional connection.”

RAD then partnered with Gucci and Tracee Ellis Ross on a screening of “If Beale Street Could Talk” benefitting Ross’ causes of choice, #MeToo and Essie Justice Group. The designers Mandy Moore partnered with for the SAG Awards — Jason Wu, Niwaka and Jimmy Choo — donated to UNICEF, while those Patricia Arquette wore — Christian Siriano, Stephen Webster and Roger Vivier — supported GiveLove. All parties also posted on social media, to encourage fans to get involved.

“We are working on the Grammys, BAFTA and Oscars. After that, Met Gala, Cannes Film Festival and so on,” says Martin, who would love to see RAD inspire people and promote change. “It doesn’t take much to create significant impact, so why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you use your platform to advocate for something you already believe in?”

In the absence of an all-black uniform, many women supported Time’s Up at this year’s Globes by incorporating the items Phillips designed into their outfits. Julianne Moore and Charlize Theron accessorized with Time’s Up bracelets, Laura Dern and Caitriona Balfe dangled ribbons from their bags, and Gina Rodriguez attached a white ribbon to the back of her pale blue Reem Acra dress. Rachel Brosnahan’s husband, Jason Ralph, even sported a bow tie fashioned from the ribbon to complement the one Brosnahan tied around her wrist.

“I was fortunate enough to be here last year with the birth of this movement,” Brosnahan told Variety on the red carpet. “And while we’ve accomplished a lot in the last year — for example, the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund has helped more than 4,000 men and women — we still have a lot of work to do.”

To support Time’s Up and female empowerment, stylist Elizabeth Stewart — whose clients include Julia Roberts, Jessica Chastain and Cate Blanchett — collaborated with Sergio Rossi on a collection of power pumps and sandals. Available at Sergio Rossi’s pop-up store at Westfield Century City through March 6, the black, red, and light pink designs flaunt words including “strength,” “power” and “kindness” — and 100% of the profits benefit the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. Says Stewart, “They are meant to be a talisman of strength for the wearer, and also a reminder to be the person they want to be.”

Stewart and her clients are also using the red carpet to champion for the environment. “I’ve had many clients request to repeat a look in order to support our belief that fashion is to be cherished for a lifetime, rather than fill up landfills with one-time-use-only clothing,” says Stewart, a fan of sustainable fashion and recycling gowns. “Cate Blanchett started off this past May by re-wearing her 2014 Globes dress to the opening night of Cannes!”

Other women have been promoting inclusion and diversity by wearing designers who are female or of different ethnic origins. Gemma Chan made a point of choosing Asian designers, like Prabal Gurung and Kenzo, for her “Crazy Rich Asians” press tour; Globes host Sandra Oh opted for looks by strong female designers Donatella Versace and Stella McCartney; and Lena Waithe hosted this year’s Film Independent Spirit Awards brunch wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt.

No stranger to using fashion to make a political statement, Waithe sported a hoodie with the face of the first black woman to run for president, Shirley Chisholm — now part of the logo for Kamala Harris’ campaign — to last year’s MTV Movie & TV Awards. And the LGBTQ advocate wore a Carolina Herrera suit with a rainbow flag cape to last year’s “Heavenly Bodies”-themed Met Gala.

“It’s one of the moments in my career that is always going to stand out to me,” says Waithe’s stylist Tiffany Hasbourne, who’s also a costume designer on “Ballers,” “Atlanta,” and Waithe’s new BET series “Boomerang.” “We had to have a very honest conversation. ‘You know what this Met Gala is, it’s talking about Catholicism and what that stands for’… And she was like, ‘I think we should do it. Ask [creative director Wes Gordon] if he can add brown to the bottom of the flag.’” Which he did.

“She constantly wants to be a part of things that speak for everyone,” says Hasbourne, who Waithe had just asked to reach out to some new, independent designers for Sundance. “The person who may not be able to get on a platform that she has access to, she is always working towards making sure that she represents that voice.”

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