On the Golden Globes Red Carpet, a Retreat | Modern Society of USA

On the Golden Globes Red Carpet, a Retreat

On the Golden Globes Red Carpet, a Retreat

Thus does the promise of red-carpet change that hovered over the Golden Globes only a year ago — when women took back their wardrobes for the night — get squandered.

The co-host Sandra Oh, in an emotional moment during the opening set of the awards show on Sunday, said she could see “change” by looking around the ballroom. But during the dress parade that is the celebrity entrances, it was mostly back to business on the fashion front. And I mean that literally.

The red carpet is a marketing machine, pairing stars and brands to optimum mutually beneficial effect. Last year, the collective decision by women to wear black in honor of the Time’s Up movement, which aims to address systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace, changed the equation if not the players. It had power because it felt personal, a quality that has been largely leeched from the contemporary red carpet, where what to wear — that most close-to-the-body decision — has generally been transformed into a business arrangement. It raised the stakes beyond advertising to advocacy, suggesting the moment could be used for more than just moneymaking. Yet 12 months later, it’s still a promise, not a reality.

Unlike last year, there was no mention in the post-appearance news releases sent out by the brands of any dress-related donations to nonprofits or other causes. Indeed, the endorsement machine is apparently back in full force, from the jewels (now among the most lucrative deals to be had) to the bags, shoes and — this is a new one — skin care.

More provocative were the bondage straps that wound around the exposed waists of Rosamund Pike in Givenchy and Thandie Newton in Michael Kors, as if to suggest all stars are at the mercy of the red carpet rules.

Still, that kind of fun-with-fashion approach was left largely to the men, who seemed disinclined to play by the old rules. Instead there was color (Mr. Elba, Spike Lee in purple Versace), print (Darren Criss’s floral jacket), drama (Billy Porter’s bejeweled Randi Rahm cape lined in bright pink silk), gender fluidity (Cody Fern) and just plain old weirdness.

As an example, see Timothée Chalamet’s “embroidered bib” by Louis Vuitton, a choice that was perhaps supposed to be a cool modern variation on a vest, but that mostly resembled a deconstructed parachute harness.

At least it was a talking point. In the absence of any greater point, that may be the next best thing.

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