Celebrity fashion has always been talked about in the media. From Gaga’s iconic VMA meat dress to Jason Sudeikis’ statement suit about racism in football during the Ted Lasso premiere, celebrities know how to use the red carpet as a platform for political activism.
Fashion is about so much more than a label, style can tell a story in seconds, making it the perfect outlet for opinion leaders with popular platforms.
Look closely at seven key moments in fashion history when a celebrity outfit made the next day’s newspaper.
The 2010 VMAs will always go down in history thanks to Lady Gaga’s most iconic fashion statement, the meat dress. Known for her quirky style and her passion for using her platform for good, she’s not s stranger to an out-there outfit, but this one came with a social cause behind it.
In a protest against the US military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prevented military workers from being open about their sexuality, Gaga used the meat dress to speak up about sexuality not being a choice.
“If we don’t stand up for what we believe in and if we don’t fight for our rights…pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones,” she told Ellen.
Less than a year later, the same policy was fully repealed in September 2011.
Second up is Laverne Cox, with her statement style choice at the 2019 Emmy awards. Carrying a rainbow clutch designed by Edie Parker, she sported the statement #TransIsBeautiful to draw attention to the discrimination of Trans people in the US Supreme Court.
Protesting against the discrimination of employment rights in the LGBTQ+ community under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Laverne Cox stated that “A lot of people aren’t talking about this case, and it has implications for the LGBT community. But it has implications for women and anyone who doesn’t conform to someone else’s idea of how you should be… A man or woman or neither,” in a recent interview with E!
Just a year later, the Supreme Court rectified the act, ruling that LGBTQ+ employees would be protected from work-based discrimination.
(Image Source: Instagram)
Ted Lasso actor Jason Sudeikis also made a statement during the premiere of the newest season of the hit football-focused show Ted Lasso.
Choosing to sport a black top with the names of three black England team players on it, the star started a conversation about racism in football after the three players showcased faced racial abuse on the back of the 2020 European cup.
“They caught a lot of guff online, the three young Black men,” Sudeikis explained “And our show is rooted in both, you know, despising things like bullying and racism or whatnot, but it also is rooted and takes place in London, in England. And so yeah, it was just our way to use this big fancy premiere to spotlight them and let them know we got their back.”
(Image Source: Instagram)
Who says political figures can’t make statements with their fashion too? At the 2021 Met Gala, American politician Alexandria Ocasio Cortez did just that with her “TAX THE RICH’ dress.
In an attempt to get the attention of NYC elected officials who would be attending the event, she took to the red carpet to share her options on the healthcare system and climate action.
“The medium is the message,” she said on Instagram. “The time is now for childcare, healthcare, and climate action for all. Tax the Rich.”
Fashion statements don’t always have to be political. American filmmaker Spike Lee gave us an example of that at the 2020 Oscars after walking the red carpet in a fashion tribute to the late Lakers player Kobe Bryant.
Laced in Lakers colours, purple and gold and embodied with the number 24, the emotional message paid tribute to the work Lee did with Kobe in his last documentary, Kobe Doin’ Work.
Lizzo is known for her extroverted personality and strong moral compass, so fans were not surprised to see her rocking her own fashion social statement at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards.
With just a few months left before the presidential election, Lizzo used her platform to encourage young fans to get out and vote.
Wearing a black Christian Siriano dress plastered with the word ‘VOTE’, she definitely stood out amongst the crowd.
Better still, after winning the award for Top Song Sales, she used her acceptance speech to further enhance her fashion statement.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about suppression and the voices that refused to be suppressed,” she said. “I wonder, would I be standing here right now if it weren’t for the big Black women who refused to have their voices suppressed? …Whether it’s through music, protest, or your right to vote, use your power, use your voice, and refuse to be suppressed.”
Last but not least, international pop star Harry styles has also had the media talking with his newest fashion statements. After dressing up as Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ during his Love on Tour, Madison Square Garden performance, the singer came under fire for wearing feminine clothes.
Styles has since used his platform to remove gender stigmas from the fashion world. As the first man to appear on the cover of American Vogue in a dress, he uses his stage to campaign for LGBTQ+ rights, especially in the fashion industry.
“I’m not just sprinkling in sexual ambiguity to be interesting, I want things to look a certain way,” he told the Guardian. “Not because it makes me look gay, or it makes me look straight, or it makes me look bisexual, but because I think it looks cool.”
As long as fashion exists, it will be used to tell a story and make a statement. If you want to see yourself better, it’s time to take a look at what your own style says about you.
As celebrities make movements with their clothing choices, could it be time for you to make a style statement too?