Ah! The Oscars: The land of fortune, fame, gleaming faux grins and two-faced air kissing insincerity. This year’s awards ceremony presented us with a Disney Princess theme, Girl Scout cookies (of which Morgan Freeman was a fan) and the end of Leo’s arduous wait for a golden statue.

It seems however, that the glamorous awards ceremony is no longer just a celebration of great talent. It has, instead, become all about the outfits. Or, more specifically, about what the women are wearing. Nobody seemed too mortified about the fact that all males were dressed exactly the same. All attention was on the jewellery, the designers and the frocks (that, individually, probably cost more than my entire inheritance).

So, what happens when a woman shows up who isn’t wearing a diamond encrusted gown, whose contour is most certainly not ‘on fleek’ and whose perm could seriously compete with your average standard poodle (and win)…

Designer Jenny Beavan made the headlines not long ago, when Stephen Fry famously labeled her as ‘bag lady’ for her scruffy ensemble at the BAFTAs. Weeks later, Beavan defied sartorial tradition at the 88th Oscars award ceremony and graced the red carpet wearing an M&S jacket, complete with a personalized studded Swarovski crystal skull on the back. She teamed this with a striped pashmina, and wait for it, a pair of trousers. *Gasps*.

As a result, some of Hollywood’s biggest talents refused to clap for the Mad Max: Fury Road costume designer as she walked up the aisle to collect her well deserved award for ‘Best Costume Design’. Four time Oscar winning director Alejando Iñárritu crossed his arms and glared at the poor woman, whilst Spotlight director Tom McCarthy touched his face with serious concern.
Others belatedly clapped their hands; flashing bemused looks at their other halves in synchronized cries of “A woman in trousers, how awful!”

Beavan however, completely bossed it. She walked down that aisle with self-assurance stronger than Leo’s survival instinct in The Revenant. She outwardly refused to conform to the out-of-date notions of how women in Hollywood should look, and didn’t even realise she was making such a statement. Speaking after the ceremony, Jenny told the Daily Mail that she didn’t care much for Hollywood gowns, saying, “I don’t do frocks and absolutely don’t do heels, I have a bad back” (I feel ya, Jen). She also claims to look “ridiculous in a beautiful gown” and just likes “feeling comfortable”.

So welcome to the 21st century – where the world’s media is obsessing over a woman who went to The Oscars in M&S. Who cares? Refusing to clap for Jenny Beavan just because of her appearance and not simply her wealth of talent is a huge backward step in the fight for feminism. Shame on you, Hollywood.

Later that week, Beavan responded to the unexpected media uproar by reinforcing the message that looks aren’t everything, stating: ‘you don’t have to look like a supermodel to be successful’. So, last Sunday, instead of leaving with blisters, Jenny Beavan left The Oscars with not only a renowned golden award but also heaps of defiance, truck loads of respect and most importantly, as newfound inspiration to all women.

Words by : Izzie Shaw


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