Billy Porter
Billy Porter

How Billy Porter's Oscar Gown Changed the World

Billy Porter uses fashion as a way to make political statements, and the actor’s interest in the intersection between activism and art was made most clear when he showed up to the 2019 Oscars in a head-turning tuxedo gown.

“I know that there is activism inside of fashion,” he told Rachel Brosnahan during their Variety Actors on Actors interview. “I’m an activist. I knew that that tuxedo gown at the Oscars would create a conversation surrounding what gender means, what all these rules we put on everybody in life.”

The “Pose” star goes on to explain how attitudes towards women’s clothing choices have progressed over the years while men are still imposed with strict sartorial expectations. “We’ve gotten past a problem with women wearing pants. When women wear pants it’s powerful,” he said. “When men wear a dress it’s disgusting. We’re not doing that anymore. I’m not doing it.”

The custom Christian Siriano gown that he wore to the awards ceremony isn’t the only look that has turned heads at public events. Most recently, the actor walked – or more accurately, was carried – through the Met Gala pink carpet in a bejeweled Egyptian-inspired cat-suit. In line with this year’s “Camp” theme, in which attendees were encouraged to wear superfluous ensembles, Porter’s outfit also included a headpiece and wings.

“I think that we as artists … have the power to change the molecular structure of people’s hearts and minds and change the world,” he said. “That dress changed the world.”

Variety‘s “Actors on Actors” will air on PBS June 18th and 20th.


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